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Brake Pad Wear Indicator – A Detailed Overview

March 17, 2024 | Victor Lukasso

Brake Pad wear indicators are monitoring devices designed to alert drivers when their brake pads have reached the minimum thickness or wear limit.

Vehicle manufacturers include brake wear indicators to inform drivers when to replace their brake pads. This feature is available on vehicles with more than three wheels and is also valuable for industrial applications like wind turbines and cranes.

The type of wear indicator varies depending on the brake system, and it can be electronic or acoustic. Keep reading to learn more about brake pad wear indicators, including answers to frequently asked questions!

What happens when your brakes become Squeaky

As you use your brake pads daily, various issues may arise. One of these issues is the development of squeaky brakes or squeaky brake pads.

If you notice that your brakes are squeaking, it is most likely due to activating your brake pad wear indicators. To avoid further complications, fixing or replacing the brake pads immediately is essential.

Meanwhile, there are several common reasons why your brakes might be squeaking:

1. Debris In Brakes

If you have twigs, mud, or debris caught between your rotors and brake pads, it can cause unusual sounds, including squeaking.

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Performing a routine brake check can identify and remove any accumulated debris between the rotor and brake pads.

2. Metallic Brake Pads

It is important to note that as your vehicle increases in size and weight, it will require more braking power. Modern brake pads are manufactured with added reinforcement, using metallic or semi-metallic friction materials.

The metallic composition in these brake pads can range up to 70%, resulting in a naturally occurring squeaking sound when the brakes are applied. Although it may be unpleasant to hear, squeaky brakes in these cases are typically not a cause for concern.

3. Rusty Brakes

When your vehicle sits idle in damp or rainy conditions, or the braking system accumulates rust, it may start making squeaking sounds. However, the rust will wear away after driving the car for a while, and the squeaking should stop.

4. Calipers Sticking

Sticky calipers, a common problem, may also cause squeaky brakes. If you notice any unusual brake operation along with squeaking, it is advisable to consult your mechanic right away to prevent further damage. One tell-tale sign of sticky calipers is when your car pulls to one side while braking.

If you’re unsure of the cause of the squeaky brakes, it’s best to seek the advice of a mechanic.

Common Causes Of Uneven Brake Pad Wear and Solutions

1. Corroded Slide Pin

When functioning correctly, the slide pins in your car’s braking system allow the caliper to move back and forth, preventing the brake pads from touching the rotors.

However, if these slide pins become corroded or the piston gets stuck, the caliper will not move smoothly, causing it to get stuck and leading to faster brake pad wear.

How to get rid of corroded slide pins?

It is essential to address this common brake pad issue promptly by seeking the assistance of a qualified mechanic. This will help prevent any potential problems that may arise as a result.

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2. Misalignment In The Brake Pads

Improper brake pad installation can result in misalignment and cause uneven wear on the pad. The correct alignment of the brake pad is essential to ensure proper squeezing of the rotor.

If you notice any misalignment in the brake pad, it can lead to braking issues in a matter of weeks or months after a new installation. To avoid this problem, it’s essential to have the brake pads installed correctly.

What can you do about this?

This issue requires the expertise of a professional mechanic, and attempting to fix it yourself could be challenging. It’s best to seek a trained mechanic’s help to ensure the problem is resolved correctly.

3. Disc Thickness Variation

Disc Thickness Variation (DTV) is a common term used to describe the condition where the brake rotors on your vehicle have uneven levels of thickness. When this happens, the brake pads will contact certain areas of the rotor more than others, causing uneven and premature wear.

Various factors, such as a sticking brake caliper, rust, corrosion, or frequent slamming on the brakes, can cause DTV.

Dirt and debris can also accumulate in the rotor and brake pad, leading to DTV. If you suspect your vehicle has DTV, it’s best to consult a mechanic to fix it before it causes further damage.

What can you do about it?

You should consult a professional mechanic to fix the flat spots on your brake rotors.

4. Caliper Failure

Caliper failure and piston issues are common causes of uneven brake pads. The brake caliper in your car contains a piston that applies pressure on the brake pads to stop the vehicle. However, the rubber seal that pulls the caliper piston away may lose its ability, resulting in regular contact between the pad and the brake rotor. This can cause faster brake pad wear.

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Sticky pistons and guide pins caused by rust or debris on the caliper can also prevent the piston from sliding smoothly, increasing brake pad wear. It is advisable to consult a mechanic to fix these issues promptly.

What should you do?

It is recommended to seek the help of a professional mechanic to fix the issue properly. Attempting to fix it on your own can be more complicated than anticipated.

Brake Pad Wear Indicator Placement

Replacing a brake pad wear indicator can be a complex process, so it’s recommended that you seek the assistance of a qualified mechanic. Attempting to do it on your own may significantly damage your vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions About Brake Pad Wear

Q: What causes uneven brake pad wear?

There are several causes of uneven brake pad wear, but these are the common causes.

  • Debris In Brakes
  • Disc Thickness Variation
  • Caliper failure
  • Misalignment

Q: What does uneven brake pad wear mean?

Uneven brake pad wear is typically caused by caliper failure, which results in a brake pad that is not level or smooth. The brake caliper features a piston that applies pressure to the brake pads to bring the vehicle to a halt.

Q: Does the brake pad wear indicator go outside or inside?

It’s important to note that the brake pad wear indicator should be installed on the inner side of the caliper as the inner pad tends to wear out faster than the outer pad.

Q: What does the brake wear indicator do?

The brake wear indicator or sensor is an important safety feature installed to alert the driver when it’s time to replace the brake pads. The sensor is typically mounted on the brake pad and connected to the caliper, and it is present in about 2-4 wheels of a vehicle.

Q: How to check the brake wear indicator

You will need a flashlight to ensure a clear view to inspect your brake pads properly. If you notice that the brake pads appear to be less than 1/4 inch thick, it may be time to replace them with new ones. Some brake pads may also have a wear indicator slot in the pad’s center. If this slot is no longer visible or barely visible, it is crucial to replace the brake pads as soon as possible.

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Meet Victor Lukasso, the owner of V. Auto Basics. Through this blog, Victor Provides Insights on the latest tips, maintenance, repair, and techniques in the automotive world.