Although brakes in modern vehicles look complicated, they are a fundamentally simple system composed of only a few parts. There are numerous components involved in communicating the information from your foot on the brake pedal to the wheels, but when it comes down to actually stopping your vehicle, there are only two major parts to think of: rotors and pads.
When you depress the brake pedal, it is the friction caused by the brake pads squeezing against the rotors that slow your vehicle down. Because of the immense friction, these two components are the ones that receive most of the wear and tear and require regular replacement.
Also referred to as “disks” or “discs”, brake rotors are attached to each wheel in your vehicle. The rotors spin with the wheels and are what the brake pads squeeze against to create friction to stop your vehicle. Most rotors are made of cast iron, but you can find rotors in a variety of materials including carbon and ceramic compounds.
When you depress the brake pedal, the pads, held by the brake calipers, clamp down on the spinning rotors. The harder you press on the brake pedal, the more friction will be created and the more aggressively you will slow down. Most brake pads are made of a mixture of rubber, carbon, fiberglass, and/or Kevlar, all bound together by a resin. You can also find brake pads that are made of ceramic or metal, which offer a different balance of cost, performance, and durability.
Every vehicle will eventually require a brake pad and rotor replacement, but your driving style will play a huge role in how quickly the pads and rotors will break down. Drivers with a “lead foot” will find themselves servicing their pads and rotors more often than drivers with a smooth style.
Do I Need to Do Rotors and Pads Together?
Don’t be surprised if your technician recommends replacing your vehicle’s pads and rotors at the same time, even if that’s not what you’ve usually done. This is actually quite a standard recommendation, and we’ll explain why below.
One of the reasons why a technician may recommend replacing both pads and rotors at the same time is maintenance efficiency. Let’s say your pads are totally cooked and need to come out today, but your rotors still have 10% of their life left. You would be safe to replace the pads, leave the rotors, and drive off having saved a bit of money.
The problem is that after a few weeks of driving, you’ll most likely have to come back to the shop to get the rotors replaced. When you offset the replacement of pads and rotors, you can find yourself spending twice the amount of time getting your brakes serviced as you need.
However, let’s say that you have been working with an offset maintenance schedule for a while and are replacing your pads while your rotors are still at 80%. In this scenario, you may be given the option to keep your existing rotors. The mechanic will also check the evenness of the rotors to make sure that everything is wearing properly.
The best course of action is to seek advice from a service team that you trust; which is why it’s so beneficial to have a consistent shop with which you can form a good working relationship. A good mechanic will provide you with a recommendation with your best interest in mind.
Regular Brake Servicing
When safety is a priority, regular brake services are obviously a vital part of vehicle maintenance. The extreme pressure and friction involved in your braking system result in the gradual degradation of components, which necessitates routine maintenance.
As a rule of thumb, brake pads will need replacement after about 80,000 kilometers. But, depending on your vehicle and driving style, they could need replacement in as little as 40,000 kilometers. Routine maintenance from your mechanic will involve brake inspections, so they will keep you up to date on the status of your brakes, along with the rest of your vehicle’s components.
Drive Confidently with Tunerworks
Whether you need help making your vehicle go or stop, Tunerworks has you covered. Our expert team has decades of combined experience with all makes and models of vehicles, and is excited to offer you personalized service.