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Worn or Cracked Brake Pads: Common Signs & When to Replace

Your car’s brakes are an essential safety feature that takes your car from a swift 65 MPH down to a complete stop if necessary. Brakes have a big job stopping a moving two ton vehicle. If brake pads are cracked or worn down, it makes this process a bit more difficult, affecting your ability to stop, and may even damage your vehicle’s rotors. 

A brake inspection every 3,000 to 5,000 miles can help keep you informed about the condition of your car’s brakes. 

Brake pads wear down in several ways and not always evenly. When a technician inspects your brake pads, they’ll be removed and measured. The technician will also look for unusual wear patterns, cracks, or damages. Cracked brake pads should be replaced as recommended. 

Once brake pads wear past a certain point, they can cause damage to the rotors that requires machining or replacement all together, which can be quite costly. Cracked Brake Pad compared to new brake pad

Signs of Worn or Cracked Brake Pads

Brake pads are made with a steel backing plate on one side and the other side that meets the rotor, it is covered with friction materials. When the brake pedal is pressed, the brake pad clamps down on to the rotor to slow or stop the vehicle.

Listed below  are the most common signs of worn brake pads

  • Outer Pad Wear – Caused from the brake pad leaning against the rotors after the calipers are released. This sort of wear is often caused by malfunctioning brake components such as bushings, pins, or slides. When this kind of wear occurs it is recommended to replace the calipers and brake pads.
  • Cracks, Glazing, or Lifting – Cracks, glazing and lifting edges are often related to overuse or defective brake pads, a faulty caliper, or a parking brake that is slightly engaged. This kind of brake trouble indicates the brake pad needs to be replaced and the parking brake should be adjusted.
  • Tapered Wear – Tapered wear is an uneven wear pattern where the pad will appear to have a slant from one side of the pad to the other. This kind of wear indicates that the pads were either installed incorrectly, the caliper is stuck on one side of the pad, or the guide pins are worn. Replacing the caliper as well as the brake pads will resolve this issue.
  • Inner Pad Wear – Excessive wear on the interior side of the brake pad indicates the pad is rubbing against the rotor, after the caliper has released. This kind of wear is often the result of corrosion, worn seals, or a faulty caliper.

When to Replace Brake Pads

You can expect to replace your brakes every 50,000 miles, though this timeline can vary based on driving habits, brake pad quality, and the terrain you drive on. Brake pads should wear evenly across the inside and outside as well as on each wheel, however, it doesn’t always happen like that.

Waiting too long to replace brake pads can be dangerous. Over time, and lots of slowing and stopping the car, brake pads naturally wear down. Brake pads that are severely worn down reduce the ability for your car to stop.

The wear indicator included on brake pads will help clue you in as to when brake pads should be replaced. The wear indicator is a small piece of metal attached to the brake pad that comes in contact with the brake rotor once the pad has worn down to a certain level. When this occurs, you’ll often hear a squeaking sound when the brakes are applied.

Worn Brake Pad

Brake pads that are in good condition measure about 8 mm – 12 mm. It’s time to start thinking about replacement when pads get between 6 mm – 4 mm, and brake pads should most certainly be replaced once they measure between 2 mm – 3 mm. 

Replace brake pads at the right time. Waiting too long can cause damage to the rotors by creating deep nicks and grooves called scores. Once rotors get to this point, they may be damaged beyond the point of machining, requiring replacement. Turned rotors cost far less than an entire replacement.

We are the brake experts at Sun Devil Auto! Did you know that every time your vehicle receives an oil change with us, we include a free brake inspection? 

Your safety is very important to us at Sun Devil Auto and it’s vital to your safety to ensure your brakes are in good condition to stop when you need to stop. Our ASE Certified Brake Technicians can tell you when your brake pads have worn down to the point of replacement. Plus, our brake service includes a limited lifetime warranty! Don’t let brake problems stop you in your tracks. Visit a Sun Devil Auto today.