Before you throw out the old brake pads or order a new set, take a good look at them. Worn brake pads can tell you a lot about the entire brake system and prevent the new pads from suffering the same fate. It can also help you to recommend a brake repair that returns the vehicle to like-new condition.
RULES OF INSPECTION
- Never judge the condition of the brake pads using just one pad. Both pads and their thicknesses need to be inspected and documented.
- Never take rust or corrosion lightly. Corrosion on the caliper and pads is an indication the coating, plating or paint has failed and needs to be addressed. Corrosion can migrate to the area between the friction material and backing plate.
- Some brake pad manufacturers bond the friction material to the backing plate with adhesives. Delamination can occur when the corrosion gets between the adhesive and friction material. At best, it can cause a noise problem; at worst, the corrosion can cause the friction material to separate and reduce the effective area of the brake pad.
- Never ignore the guide pins, boots or slides. It is rare to find a caliper that has worn out the brake pads without wear or degradation also taking place on the guide pins or slides. As a rule, when the pads are replaced so should the hardware.
- Never estimate life or thickness using percentages. It is impossible to predict the life left in a brake pad with a percentage. While most consumers might be able to understand a percentage, it is misleading and often inaccurate. In order to accurately estimate the percentage of material worn on a brake pad, you would first have to know how much friction material was present when the pad was new.
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