Brake Pad & Rotor Kits
Brake Pad & Rotor Kits at 1A Auto
What are brake pads and rotors and where are they located?
Brake pads and rotors are an essential part of the braking system of vehicles with disc brakes. Most cars and trucks produced after 1972 have come standard with front disc brakes. Many vehicles today also have rear disc brakes, although some models still use drums and shoes in the rear. Brake pads and rotors are the last step in the process that slows your vehicle down when you press the brake pedal.
When you pump the brakes, hydraulic pressure causes your brake calipers to move, pushing the pads into the rotors. The rotors are connected to the wheel hubs and spin at the same rate. Pushing the pads into the rotors slows the rotors, and therefore the hubs, ultimately slowing or stopping the vehicle.
As you can imagine, a great of deal of friction is needed for this to occur. With use, brakes will break down due to this friction. The friction will cause the kinetic energy of the spinning rotors to be converted into heat (like when you rub your hands together for warmth). Heat can also be a cause of wear to your rotors and brake pads.
How do I know if my brake pads and rotors need to be replaced?
The clearest sign that your brakes need to be replaced is a squeaking or squealing sound coming from the area of the wheels. Most brake pads come with a wear tab. As the surface of the pads wear away, this tab starts to stick out and grind into the rotors, causing the initial squealing “metal on metal” noise. This is most often heard when the breaks are being applied, but can happen all the time if the pads are well worn. At this point, that squeaker will constantly rub the rotor and annoy you, the driver, into submission. Once you hear this extremely unpleasant noise, it is time to replace your disc brake pads. This tab can also wear grooves into the rotor, so you should either have your rotors machined (or “turned”) to a smooth surface or replaced. This can only be done so many times before the rotor becomes too thin to reuse and modern rotors start off thinner than older ones (to reduce weight). Replacing rotors and pads at the same time may be your best bet.
Many vehicles, especially European makes, use electronic wear sensors. These sensors will illuminate a “service brake” light in the instrument cluster when the pads wear to their discard thickness. It is important to replace worn pads as soon as they reach this predetermined thickness to prevent possible damage to your vehicle’s brake discs and to ensure proper braking. Being able to safely stop your car is equally as important as being able to start it.
Brake rotors can also warp due to heat. This will cause the brake pedal to pulsate or the front end to wobble during braking. Any sign of cracking, corrosion or uneven disc surface is a good reason to replace your brakes.
Your brakes are one of your vehicle’s most essential safety features. If they don’t work, you may not be able to safely stop your car. Being able to safely stop your car is equally as important as being able to start it. Otherwise, you will be a danger to yourself and other motorists. Be sure to obtain replacement brake pads and rotors as soon as possible if the vehicle needs them.
Can I replace the brake pads and rotors myself?
Yes, with a little effort you should be able to replace your own disc brakes. You will have to raise one end of the vehicle (whichever end you are replacing the brakes on) onto jack stands and remove the wheel and tire. It may also be a good idea to take a picture of your brakes before removing the old parts to aid you in putting everything back together. In most modern cars, the brake rotor and wheel hub are separate parts. At one time, though, the majority of cars and trucks had the wheel hub and brake disc incorporated together. This type of rotor can still be found today, specifically on two wheel drive pickup trucks and vans. When replacing this style of brake rotor, the wheel bearings must be removed from the original brake rotors and pressed into the new ones, which increases the difficulty of the job.