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The Ultimate Guide to Brake Pads

The History of Brake Pads

The first caliper-type disc brakes brakes were developed in England during the 1890's by Frederick William Lanchester, who was the first to also patent the designs. His initial designs utilized copper due to the lack of different types of metals, which didn't fair well against the dusty, unpaved roads of the early 1900's. It wasn't until WWII, when planes and tanks began utilizing disc brakes. Some of the early auto companies, such as the Daimler Company, Argus Motoren, and Crosley began to develop vehicles with disc brakes. Since then, there has been various different attempts at changing the braking systems of automobiles, some of which are still used today.

How do brake pads work? 

If you're looking at the wheel of your vehicle, you'll notice a few different parts that make up your brake system. The largest part of your brake system on each wheel is the brake disc (or rotor). This is the part of your brake that rotates, and your brake pad applies pressure to the rotor to stop your vehicle from moving.

How often should you replace brake pads?

On average, your brake pads should be replaced every 50,000 miles, but that number can fluctuate drastically based off of several factors. For instance, a vehicle that is driven aggressively around a metropolitan area will need new brake pads sooner than a vehicle that spends most of its time driving on the highway due to how little they'll utilize their brakes.

Are there different types of brake pads?

Yes, there are a few different types of brake pads to choose from. These range from semi-metallic to ceramic and all have different price points and performance requirements. The type of vehicle you drive will largely dictate what type of brake pad you need, as higher-end performance vehicles need performance braking, while a normal everyday commuter vehicle will need brakes that deal better with the constant starts and stops that city driving presents.

How often should I have my brakes checked? 

You should check on your brakes at least once per year, if not more. Again, it depends on your driving style and environment. Sometimes brakes can wear out with little to no signs, and you don't want to get to the point that you're having to have costly emergency brake work done on your vehicle.

Can I change my brake pads myself?

Yes, you can definitely change your brake pads yourself. As long as you have the equipment and knowledge do to so, brake pad replacement is fairly easy. To change the brake pads yourself you're going to need the following equipment:

  • New Brake Pads
  • Car Jack and Stands
  • Tire Iron (Lug Wrench)
  • Ratchet and Socket Set
  • Torque Wrench
  • Brake Pad Spreader or C-Clamp
  • Allen/Torx Set
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Safety Glasses

How long does it take to replace brake pads?

The amount of time that it takes to replace brake pads ranges from 15 minutes to over an hour. It really depends on experience, amount of pads to be replaced, and how much help you've got. Less experienced individuals should be able to move faster after changing one or two pads.

Are there special repair shops for brake repair or replacement? 

While there are specialized shops setup just for brake repair needs, nearly all auto repair shops have the ability  and knowledge to take care of your brake problems. The biggest factors when choosing a brake repair shop is reputation and convenience.

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