This is Saul Reisman over at Saul’s Automotive again and we’re going to talk a little bit about the way your brakes fail when they start to wear out.
From the factory, your vehicle’s brake pads are anywhere from five-to-10 millimeters thick. These pads are down to about two-to-three millimeters of thickness internally. We put them up against each other we can see there’s actually a gap in the center. This tells us that the pads are not wearing perfectly even or square against each other. This is typical from overheating and actually chaffing the pads apart. As we can see there is still a little bit of material left here. These pads actually warped the rotors because the rotors started to match this surface and began pulling the vehicle right-and-left under hard-braking; just one typical example.
Another one we’re going to look at is an uneven caliper. Now, these pads are worn to the wear bar. This one specifically is almost metal-to-metal; there’s very little pad material left at all whereas the outboard pad from the same side has almost 50 percent of its material. What this tells us is that when the brake pads are being squeezed by the caliper itself, that the caliper is not squeezing evenly on both sides or that the caliper is not sliding properly in order to squeeze across both. Now, many brake shops would simply see this come in and say, “The brake pads are worn out, the rotors are eaten up. It’s getting rotors and pads.” A more trained eye will analyze the actual pads themselves, see the uneven wear characteristics of the pads, then inspect the brake caliper itself to determine if the caliper can be greased and repaired or if the caliper needs replacement.
This is an often overlooked component as most of us think that the only parts designed to wear out are the friction surfaces. However, if somebody were to replace just the rotors and pads on this vehicle they would regain braking performance for a short time and then, once these started wearing unevenly again, the rotor would get worn out and we would start to eat into the rotor and physically score the surface like a record, destroying it from the smooth glassy-like surface it should have. When this happens is when you feel that grinding, crunching, horrible noise from your brakes. At that point, it’s pretty much guaranteed the rotors will get replaced because they cannot be, in any way, saved from this type of damage.
Well, we often see vehicles come in that have recently had their brake rotors and pads serviced, inexpensively, at other locations. We very often find those components worn out quickly due to inferior pad materials and calipers that haven’t been serviced properly. This allows the pad to burn up much quicker than normal and makes the consumer believe that the pads are simply wearing out normally and that they seem to simply be maybe a little quicker or a little hotter than normal and they are completely unaware that their brake calipers are causing the problem. A typical set of rotors and pads should last your vehicle 50-to-100-thousand-miles. Many after-market brakes that we see come installed are only lasting 15-to-30-thousand-miles because of these exact problems.
Any vehicle that comes to Saul’s Automotive for a free brake inspection gets the calipers lubricated and the glides serviced every time. That way we can ensure that your brakes wear evenly, safely, and progressively all the time to keep your vehicle on the road for as long as possible with the least investment as necessary. If you have any concerns about your brakes and the way they’re wearing, please stop by and see us.