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Brake pads give you the friction elements you need to help you slow and stop your car in a disc brake system. The brake pads are located inside the brake caliper, which applies braking force onto the brake discs.



What are Brake Pads

Brake pads convert the kinetic energy of the car to thermal energy by use of friction. When a brake pad is heated up in contact with a rotor, it starts to transfer small amounts of friction material to the rotor. The pad and rotor will then 'stick' to each other to provide stopping power. The friction of the pad against the rotor is responsible for the majority of stopping power.

How do Brake Pads Work?

Brake pads are positioned inside the brake caliper opening, such that one pad applies pressure to the outer surface of the brake rotor and the other pad to the inner surface of the brake rotor. When the vehicle operator applies pressure to the brake pedal, hydraulic fluid is placed under pressure and transfers energy to the brake calipers. Blake fluid under pressure pushes the caliper pistons outward, moving the brake pads into contact with the rotor surfaces. Brake pad contact with the rotor causes friction, which transforms energy to perform braking action and reduce the vehicle speed.

How are Brake Pads Made?

Brake pads generally utilize a variety of organic and metallic materials to form the friction material. These are combined with a binder material that keeps the friction from shedding or breaking under pressure and heat. The friction material is bonded to a backing plate. The backing plate forms the guides for the brake pads to precisely fit into the caliper brackets as well as the contact surface for the caliper pistons. Shims are frequently fitted to the backing plates to prevent brake pad noise. Wear clips are frequently fitted to the backing plates to alert the vehicle operator when the remaining friction material has become very thin and the brake pads will soon need to be replaced.

Why do Brake Pads Fail?

  • The friction material wears as a normal part of the friction created during the braking process
  • Brake pads can wear in an accelerated or asymmetric fashion if there are problems with the brake pressure in the calipers or problems with the caliper's ability to align itself during braking

What are Symptoms of Brake Pad Failure?

  • Should the friction material become completely worn away to such degree that braking causes contact between the backing plate and the rotor, braking efficiency will be greatly reduced

What are Implications of Brake Pad Failure?

  • A loud grinding noise during braking will likely occur, and if not repaired quickly, the rotor will become damaged

If you have questions or concerns about brake pads, your vehicle's braking system, or any of your vehicle's components, come into your local Pep Boys where we can answer any question, help you find any part, or perform any vehicle service you might need.

If you want to learn more about other car parts, especially as they apply to brake pads, we recommend reading up on brake lines, brake systems and Brake Pads