Keeping your brakes in good working order increases your safety. Better quality parts replaced regularly in professional garages ensure shorter stopping distance.
Brake pads, the basic component of the braking system, require special attention of the driver. Their general condition, not only their wear, but also the durability of the material they are made of, have direct influence on your comfort of driving and peace of mind. Driving a car equipped with old or defective brake pads is irritating, noisy, but, most importantly, dangerous.
How brake pads work
Their role boils down to squeezing against the brake discs hard enough to reduce the speed of the car. But the braking system is not comprised of brake pads only. In fact, its efficiency depends upon a many more factors. A car's speed is reduced by pressing the pads against the brake discs. This is possible thanks to pistons controlled by the pressure of the brake fluid. Checking the level of the brake fluid and changing it at least every two years is as important as checking and changing brakes pads. The brake fluid inside pistons is protected against leakage by means of seals, which also protect it against outside contaminants. The braking system should be perceived as a whole, rather than a number of independent components. Even high-quality brake pads will not do if the brake discs are worn. Changing these two elements will not suffice if the protective rubber insulation is damaged. In other words, if the brake fluid leaks out, the pistons will seize up, resulting in a significant deterioration of the operation of the callipers.
Good quality brake pads should have qualities that ensure a short braking distance.
The most important one is a stable friction coefficient, which should remain the same irrespective of cold or hot weather. The speed also matters - good quality pads must be effective and reliable at both high and low temperatures. Another aspect of great importance is recovery. High quality brake pads are created in such a way as to allow them to recover their initial properties and temperature after braking. Manufacturers also make sure that callipers operate silently and do not cause excessive vibration. Brake pads should be chosen carefully, keeping in mind the conditions in which they are going to operate. When driving in the city, the brakes are used very often, heating up to over 200 centigrade. Brake callipers must be efficient and ensure a car's safety even in the most extreme conditions.
Changing brake pads
Brake pads should definitely be replaced with new ones when they are less than 3 mm thick. You can check their thickness yourself e.g. when changing the tyres. The material covering the pads contains a characteristic grove visible after removing the wheels. If the grove is barely visible or not visible at all, it means that the pads require changing. They require changing also when the material covering them shows uneven wear, which may affect the braking distance.
Changing brake pads Pads should always be changed on both wheels of the same axis. After removing the wheels, the pads are removed from the calliper in order to check the condition of the guides, seals and the dust cover. New pads are slightly bigger than the old ones, as the material covering them has not yet been used. Hence the piston must be pushed into the calliper, as a result of which, the level of the brake fluid increases. Therefore, it should be reduced accordingly if need be, and checked in terms of its boiling point. If your car is equipped with brake pads wear sensors, they should also be changed. If you have your brake pads changed at a professional garage, you will probably also have the calliper guides lubricated and the brake discs inspected - if their groves are too deep, they should be changed.
Garages operating within the Motointegrator Partner chain offer a comprehensive brake pads change service. The chain associates over five thousand garages nationwide. Their clients are provided with free consulting and a broad range of services. Use the Motointegrator.pl search engine to find the nearest garage.
The cost of changing brake pads on one axis starts from PLN 50 - depending on the car type and the time needed to change the pads.
Durability of brake pads
The frequency of changing brake pads depends on many factors. It's not just the matter of durability of the materials of which they are made, but also the weight of the car and the way it is used. Passenger cars are not exposed to as big loads as trucks. The wear and tear of the braking systems differs in cars driven mainly over long distances and those driven on busy streets. The wear and tear of brake pads depends also on their type. Soft brake pads provide greater braking power and shorter braking distance, but they wear faster. Hard pads are less efficient, but more durable. A car driven mostly in the city requires changing its brake pads every 20-25 thousand kilometres. A car driven mostly outside the city requires changing its brake pads about every 40 thousand kilometres.
Original brake pads vs. cheaper aftermarket parts
Brake pads are chosen to fit a specific car type and its braking system. They are sold in sets for the front or back axis.
Replacement of brake pads often causes a dilemma which ones to choose: more expensive parts by renowned and proven brands or cheaper aftermarket parts. Although the market offers a wide range of parts to choose from, you should not seek to save money when it comes to brake pads. The most popular ones are covered with a cloth made from a mix of minerals. Ceramic pads are rarer and used mostly in top-class and sports cars.
Parts from lesser known brands offer poorer quality. When making a choice, you should pay attention to the brand, as the contrast between the price of better products and the less popular ones is usually not very big and results from technical differences. More expensive brake pads undergo more tests and are made of materials more resistant to high temperatures. Investment in such materials is investment in your safety.