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Do you notice your brakes grinding, brake noise or squeaking brake problems? Squeaky brakes can be an indicator of brake wear and indicate you may need a brake replacement.

If you have questions about brake wear, use this handy brake pad replacement indicator chart to help identify disc brake problems and their causes, effects and solutions.

Appearance Cause Effect Solution
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • Recommend periodic maintenance
Cracked pads

(small cracks in center of pad)

  • Stress cracks caused by pads flexing
  • Pads not free to slide in caliper
  • Piston bends in back plate
  • Lubricate caliper slides and guide pins
  • Replace pads
Uneven wear within a set

(uneven wear on pad surface)

  • Irregularly worn brake disc (wear lip)
  • Squeal and brake pedal pulsation
  • Premature pad wear
  • Replace rotors and pads
Uneven wear

(uneven wear on pad surface)

  • Irregularly worn brake disc (wear lip)
  • Squeal and brake pedal pulsation
  • Premature pad wear
  • Replace rotors and pads
Metal residue

(metal residue on friction surface)

  • Water leakage, “quenching” of the rotor causes rotor fragments to break away, transferring them to the friction material
  • Particularly noticeable if heavy braking on poorly bedded rotors
  • Has no detrimental effect on braking performance
  • May cause rotor damage or brake squeal
  • In extreme instances, replace rotors and pads

(partially charred friction material/whitish outer edges)

  • Prolonged excessive pad temperature due to intensive use or dragging
  • Reduction in initial braking efficiency
  • Excessive material deterioration
  • Material becomes brittle, chips and cracks
  • Excessive abnormal wear
  • Providing the damage is not excessive, pads can be used and will be effective under normal use

(pad friction surface "glazed")

  • High intermittent pad temperature for short durations
  • Temporary reduction in braking performance
  • Can be remedied by “normal” use
Backplate damage
  • Incorrect assembly
  • Excessive force used during installation
  • Reduced braking efficiency, irregular, wear, noise and judder
  • In extreme instances, products will not fit in the caliper
  • Replace Pads
Worn out pads

(friction material completely worn out)

  • No periodic control of pad wear
  • Vehicle may pull to one side
  • Damage to rotor
  • High squeal and noise
  • Replace pads
Surface contamination

(friction material contaminated with oil, grease or brake fluid)

  • Spillage during maintenance
  • Vehicle may pull to one side
  • Reduction in braking performance
  • Replace pads
Tapered pads

(uneven wear, tapered pads)

  • Distorted caliper
  • Caliper slides sticking
  • Piston sticking
  • Excessive caliper clearance
  • Premature pad wear
  • Uneven braking pressure
  • Noise and squeal
  • Replace pads
  • Service or replace calipers
  • Replace with new loaded calipers

Think it may be time to replace your brakes? Be sure to see a professional to determine when to change brake pads and components.

Learn more about quality brake parts, find your car part, or find where to buy your auto part today.

The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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