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How do you know if you need new brake pads?

Updated on February 16, 2015
Car braking
Car braking
How braking system works
How braking system works

Many people neglect their cars brakes, relying on periodic inspections. But would not hurt anybody to know some details about our brakes, not only how them works but when you have to change them and what dangers are if you hesitate to change them when worn.

It is good to know that, unfortunately, brakes wear out more rapidly than is provided by the manufacturer. And that is because of the chaotic traffic which overload the brakes, but also because of potholes in asphalt, or because of the phenomenon of camber.

An overview of used discs can be done following the rust, the wear of the friction surface, grooves made by brake pads, ovalization and cracks. The wear of brake pads is easily seen as one of the discs. The brake pads must never come to a higher wear in friction material than 3 mm.

Components of a disc brake
Components of a disc brake

Signs your brake pads need replacing

Brake Noises

When you hear suspicious sounds that occur in the brake pedal means there are problems with the discs or brake pads. However, some pads have a specific hiss, which is not a problem. In rare cases, some pebbles can lock braking system.

The steering pulls to one side or to the other when braking

This is a clear sign that the braking force is uneven on both sides of the car. An inspection is very important.

Very soft pedal

Brake pads have a strong grasp when the brake pedal is depressed a lot.

Very hard pedal

This symptom may be related with power assist system. In any case, it is clear that the brake system has problems. Go to service, but at a moderate speed, to control braking.

New brake pads
New brake pads
Worn brake pads
Worn brake pads

After how many kilometers are you changing the brake pads?

See results

The brakes engage at the lowest touch of the pedal

Braking can not be performed progressively and gradually, and the reaction of the system is too brutal.

Vibrations while braking

This symptom may indicate out-of-roundness of brake discs. In these moments, when braking from speeds of around 70-80 km / h are clearly transmitted vibration in the steering wheel. A side effect of this is additional wear which is supported by the powertrain components. The disks should be changed as soon as possible. You also have to avoid high speeds.

Warning lights on specific dashboard sign

This may be due to brake fluid being under level or brake pads wearing . The fact is that the issue should be investigated by a professional.

New disc brake
New disc brake
ABS dashboard warning light
ABS dashboard warning light

After how many kilometers are you changing the brake discs?

See results

Hot rims

The brake is locked, which can be caused either by blocking the caliper piston, pushing the brake pad or due to a malfunction in the ABS / ESP. Although rare, cases where a caliper is blocked by the ABS / ESP are difficult to identify, because no one thinks that the electronic module may be damaged and transmit the signal to block the wheel.

ABS dashboard warning light

ABS sensor of a wheel came off or is damaged, requiring replacement.

Brake pads dashboard warning light

This means that the brake pads have wear electronic sensor and require replacement because they have reached the limit for use under optimal conditions.

Rusty rear brake discs

If the rear axle disks remain long rusted even after long car use, there is a problem with brake distributor. This no longer applies the back brakes and should be reviewed.

Worn brake disc
Worn brake disc

Brake discs with striations or grooves

If there are grooves on the disc, it means that were of poor quality, and the brake pads have printed their profile in metal . At the first opportunity, when changing pads, discs need to be replace too.

Brake discs with lip

If the lip which is made by the brake disc to the outside exceeds 1 mm, it means it's overly worn and needs replacing.

Stains on asphalt

If you find stains behind the wheels means that they might be caused by the brake assembly, or by dampers. Take the wheel and verify calipers and hoses for leaks.

Safety tips for your car's braking system

  • Check every three months the state of the brake discs and pads after the above criteria.
  • Never install discs or pads second hand.
  • When you are changing discs, you also must have brake pads changed.
  • Never leave the handbrake on when are below 0 degrees Celsius out


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    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Good information for people like me, that do not have a maintenance light to tell me, however I have a great service department that keeps my car in great shape. Thanks for very useful information.

    • Romanian profile image

      Nicu 3 years ago from Oradea, Romania

      @DDE , you're right some components of the car don't have an unlimited lifetime, and we have to know when to change them.

      @ran2406 I'm glad you find my hub educative, thanks for your feedback.

    • profile image

      Ran_Inspired 3 years ago from India

      Very nice and educative hub.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Informative and a very important topic for knowing about break pads. Sometimes people don't know about the maintenance of their cars. It is a great responsibility and you covered this issue to the point.