The brakes are the most important safety components in a vehicle. They should be always well maintained and in good condition. In this article, we are going to look at how often we should replace the fast wearing parts of the brakes, with attention to the brake pads.
The brake pads is one of the components of a vehicle’s large braking system. Other components of the brakes system include: brake rotor, brake calipers and the disc brakes. The brake pads are responsible for converting kinetic energy from the moving wheels of the vehicle to thermal energy through friction.
The brake pads are connected to the brake calipers to work. In fact in most cars, each wheel is fitted with a brake caliper.
The calipers are connected to the brake pads. When the driver applies the brakes, the caliper pushes the two pads against the spinning disc of the wheel to slow and stop the vehicle. The friction between the pads and disc is what stops the wheel from moving. It is also what wears out the brake pads.
There are however a number of factors that affect how fast brake pads wear out. The following section highlights these factors.
Factors that affect wearing out in brake pads
Brake pads are vital for braking in vehicles. They are literally what slow down the wheels. How long the brake pads last depends on a few internal and external factors. Some include: brake material, driving environment and driving habits among others.
The driving habits of the driver heavily affect the lifespan of brake pads. Some drivers push hard against the brake pedal while others are gentle. Others prefer to stop abruptly while others start slowing down from a distance till they stop. This factor cannot be controlled as it solely depends on the driver’s driving habits.
Smooth and gradual braking will ensure the brake pads last longer than abruptly stopping. This however does not mean you should never brake abruptly. In emergency situations, you can and should brake abruptly if need be.
Brake pad materials
Brake pads can be made from different materials, most commonly ceramic material and metal brakes. Carbon ceramic material generally lasts longer than standard metal brakes.
However, in cold weather, ceramic brake pads may pose danger since they are less effective and require heat to work properly. Steel brake pads are the most common in regular cars whereas ceramic pads are found in high performance vehicles such as race cars and rally cars.
Brake pad toughness
Brake pads made from tough and hard compounds generally last longer than softer pads. Hard brake pads however require a certain amount of warmness to work effectively. They can be quite ineffective during extreme cold days such as winter.
Because of this, they are not common in regular cars. Instead, they can be found in performance cars such as rally cars. Soft compound brake pads on the other hand do not last long but perform better at low speeds. They can easily melt when it’s too hot causing reduced brake performance and in more serious conditions, accidents.
If you drive in and around the city, your brakes are likely to last a shorter time compared to someone who takes long straight drives. This is because in cities, there is much more braking due to traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and generally busier and more populated roads.
Also, if you drive in hilly and mountainous regions, your brake pads will wear out faster because of the braking needed to go downhill.
What are ceramic brakes?
Ceramic brakes pas were first made in 1970 for use in aircrafts. Soon after, they were adopted by Formula One race cars and trains. In the early 00’s, Porsche made the first production car with ceramic brakes.
Ceramic brakes do not mean that the brakes are solely made from ceramic. The brake discs are what is made from carbon ceramic. Ceramic pads work the same way as regular pads.
They are made by shooting grains of carbon fiber into a brake disc shape. It is then heated and pressurized so that the resin shot can turn into plastic. After this, it is cooled in water and then heated again until it reached 1700 Celsius. It is painted to prevent oxidation and then fitted into the car.
Due to their crystalline structure, ceramic pads are tough and durable compared to semi-metallic and metallic brake pads. This makes them expensive but far much more long-lasting than other brake pads.
When should I use ceramic brake pads?
Ceramic brakes can be expensive for most people. Since regular brakes work as well, you can avoid ceramic pads. However, if you driving under the following conditions, consider fitting your car with ceramic pads.
Professional drivers: If you drive race cars and other performance cars, consider installing ceramic brake pads. This is because these pads will not wear out when subjected to high temperatures for a long time. Ceramic brake pads have very high melting points.
Track drivers: Track driving is a sport where drivers race on tracks and compete on who has the best lap time. Since ceramic brakes are less affected by the high temperature braking produces, they are much more effective in high speeds.
Pedigree: If the price tag does not bother you, go ahead and install ceramic pads.
How long do ceramic brakes last?
Brake pads vary in how long they last depending on the material. On average, brake pads should last between 30k and 70k miles. The material used however contributes greatly to how long the brakes will last.
Ceramic brake pads are known to last longest of all brake pads due to their tough nature and light weight. Once you feel that the car is taking longer to stop, it is time to replace the brake pads. Cars today have warning systems that alert the driver of worn out pads. Squeaky brake are also a sign that the brake pads need immediate replacement. It is important to always remember that brake pads are always repaired in pairs.
If the brake pad are visibly worn out, this is a sign that they need immediate replacing. If there are any unusual sounds coming from the brakes, it is also a sign that they need immediate replacement.
It is important to maintain good vehicle maintenance habits and get the car inspected often by professional mechanic. This will go a long way in ensuring the brake pads are always in good condition. Remember that good functional brakes are essential for your safety.