Brake Pads, what they do and when to change them.

by Andrew Automoto21. November 2013 10:32

Brakes reduce your forward motion in a vehicle. On a vehicle with disc brakes each wheel is attached to a brake rotor that spins with it. The brake caliper is a device the squeezes the spinning rotor when the brake pedal is depressed causing the vehicle to slow down.

The best comparison of Brake Pads, is that of your bike brakes. When you squeeze down on the hand brake of your bike, you will notice that wires attached to two hinged metal rods (The Calipers) get close onto the rim of the tyre, (the Rotor). If the metal rods touched the bike rim, you would hear an loud screech and you would wreck your tyre rim. Here are when the Brake pads come into it.

At the end of the metal rods, there are two rubber pieces that push against the rim of the tyre causing friction between the pads and the rim and causes them to “stick” together, which eventually the  slows the bike down safely and quietly. Eventually however the rubber on your bike brakes will wear down just like the Brake Pads in your vehicle and so you will be required to change them.

The lifespan of your brake pads depends of a range of variables from your personal driving style to the quality you buy, to the laws of physics. Most service centres check your brakes every service, as they are one of the most important safety features on your vehicle. However a simpler way to know if your brake pads need changing is to listen.

Each Brake pad has a small piece of metal in it, known as a wear indicator, when the brakes wear down to a certain level the wear indicator grinds against the rotor making a squealing noise when you apply the brakes, this is a signal that it is time to have your brakes checked. If you are doing it yourself check the thickness of the brake pads. If the pads are 50mm or less in depth, it is time to change them. Changing your brake pads to soon is much better than changing them too late, changing them to late doesn't just mean that your car may not stop safely, worn brake pads also rub on the Rotor, causing marks in the Rotor, and if the brake pads are really worn and rubbing against the rotor they can cause it to warp. This means going to a mechanic and getting your rotor replaced cost you time and money. There is no such thing as lifetime brake pads!

Now before you run out and buy a set of brake pads, here are a few rules to abide by so you make sure you get a good brand of brake pads:

·         Stick with big brand names

  • Be sure the manufacturer uses the FMSI brake standard
  • Don’t buy more pad than you need (performance pads are only good for performance braking)
  • Make sure your buying the right type of brake pads for your vehicle.
  • Make sure factory style shims are included

There are many different types of Brake Pads depending on the vehicle and the intended use, from very soft to harder more durable brake pads. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend a specific type of Brake pad for their vehicles. Please check your Owner’s manual for the type of Brake pads that are best suited to your vehicle, or alternatively visit to speak to your closest authorised service centre or dealership.

Some of the different brands of brake pads sold in Australia are

  •        Bendix Brake Pads
  •        RDA brake pads
  •        Ferodo
  •        Hawk performance
  •        Posi quiet
  •        Stop tech street performance brake pads

To find out more information on how to change your brake pads visit – How to change your brake pads



‘The information provided in this article is for general advise only.  It is not intended for instructional use.  Use of the information is at your own risk.  We recommend you seek the advice of a trained professional.'