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J&B Auto Tool News

Brake Pads 101: Everything You Need to Know About Brake Pads

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Brake pads are an essential component of your vehicle's braking system. Consisting of steel plates coating with friction material, they are designed to convert the kinetic energy produced by your vehicle into thermal energy via friction. In each of your vehicle's brake calipers, there are two brake pads -- one on each side. For a safe and effective braking system, the brake pads must be properly installed with an adequate amount of friction material remaining on the steel plates.

The Mechanics of Brake Pads

Contrary to what some people believe, not all wheels on a vehicle have brake pads. In most vehicles, rather, only the front two wheels have brake pads. On each of these wheels, there's a rotor and caliper. When you press your foot on the brake pedal, the caliper squeezes the rotors and connected brake pads.

Because brake pads are made of a friction material, they are able to absorb and convert the kinetic energy produced by your vehicle into friction. The brake pads push against the rotors, thus slowing down the speed at which the wheels turn. Brake pads have been around since the early 1900s, and since that time, they've become an integral component of automotive braking systems.

How to Tell If Your Vehicle's Brake Pads Are Worn

Over time, the material from which brake pads are made will wear away. Whether the brake pads are made of ceramic, steel, copper or cellulose, they won't last forever. And failure to replace worn brake pads could result in damage to your vehicle's rotors.

Here are a few telltale signs that your vehicle's brake pads are worn:

  • Vibrations coming from the front of your vehicle -- if your vehicle only has brakes on the front axle -- when pressing the brake pedal
  • Squealing or grinding noise when pressing the brake pedal
  • Vehicle pulling to either the left or right
  • Brakes pulsate when pressing the brake pedal
  • You haven't changed them in over 70,000 miles
  • It takes longer to stop when pressing the brake pedal than in the past
  • The Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) light is illuminated in your vehicle's dashboard

How Much Does It Cost to Replace to Replace Brake Pads?

Even if your vehicle's brake pads are worn, they are relatively inexpensive to replace. While the exact cost varies depending on your vehicle, your location and more, you can expect to pay around $150 to $250 per axle to replace the brake pads.

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