Your safety is never more important to anyone than it is to you. The replacement of brake pads on your car is never done without consideration for the qualifications of the mechanic who is to be commissioned for the project. There are many people who consider the replacement of brakes as a mundane task with little regard for the abilities of the mechanic.
If you truly care for your safety, you must take the time to acquire a very basic understanding of your brakes and how they work. With a basic and proper view of how your brakes function you will not only improve the conditions for your own safety, but the safety of others that come within range of your car.
It Takes More Then Brake Pads to Stop You
When you push your brake pedal the subsequent chain of events, happen rapidly and result in your car decelerating to the point of being completely stopped. The chain of events is important, but not as important to understand as their culmination at the meeting of the brake pad against the rotor.
The force of the brake pedal being pushed ultimately causes pressurized brake fluid to force the brake pad from its resting position against the rotor that is attached to the wheel. The free spinning rotor has the inertia of the tires and the inertia of the car to overcome when the brakes are applied. With the average car weighing more than two thousand pounds, the amount of force necessary is incredible.
You do not have to be a mathematician to understand that a vehicle travelling downhill at a speed in excess of even ten miles an hour is going to need an extremely strong counterforce to the inertia of the car, the gravity of the hill, and the pull of the drive train.
What the Pads and Rotor Do
To be simplistic and avoid scientific jargon any more than we have already used, pushing the brakes makes your wheels stop turning. Brakes can actually stop your tires from spinning all at once, when this happens onlookers will say you have slammed on the brakes and “laid rubber.” Brake pads are made of very strong materials and have a flat surface.
They push against the rotor that is typically made of metal which is normally harder than the brake pad. The principle at play here is to transfer mechanical energy and heat caused by the friction.
The larger the brake pad surface area, the stronger potential stopping power of the brake system. The brake pads being of a softer material pushing against the harder material of the rotor wear out faster. If the brake pads are not changed at regular intervals, the operator of a vehicle will eventually hear the sound of metal grinding against metal when the brake pedal is applied.
Metal against metal allows for a very poor transfer of heat and energy, and the ability of the car to stop quickly is greatly reduced. If you hear a car squeaking as it comes to a stop, your safety is being placed at risk and the operator of the car owes it to themselves and society in general to make their car road worthy.
Anything that impairs the ability of the brake pad surface to press firmly against the rotor with enough force to overcome the inertia of the car creates an unsafe braking situation. The full surface of the pad has to be smooth and lay flatly against the rotor for complete stopping power. Damage to the brake pad or rotor can take a variety of forms.
The rotor is a round disc that has been machined to have a polished flat surface for the brake pads to press against. If the rotor gets too hot, it can warp the brake pads and will challenge their ability to provide a smooth, effective stop. A warped rotor may be difficult to detect without pulling the wheel off but can be identified visually by a trained professional.
If there has been significant heat damage, you may notice a hue coloring to the rotor similar to the colors of gasoline floating on water. Heat damage can make the surface of the rotor difficult for the surface of the brake pad to grab. One indicator that you may have a warped rotor is if you feel a vibration in your car when you press on the brake pedal while coming to a stop.
Warping and heat are not the only types of damage that may occur to a rotor. If you have had the brake shoes of your car replaced before you may have noticed that the shoes do not wear evenly. If the surface of the brake pad did not wear evenly and you did not replace the rotors or have them resurfaced, the old wear pattern will affect the new brake pads. The softer brake pad will wear down to match the wear pattern of the harder metal rotor.
While the shoes are wearing down to align with the surface of the rotor, there are two things happening. The life of the brake pad has been greatly reduced as only a portion of it is being used, and forces accelerated wear. In addition, there is a reduction of stopping power as the full surface of the brake pad is not being applied.
One of the indicators of wear on the rotor is the appearance of significant grooves that can be visibly seen on the shiny surface of the brake pad. If you can see your rotor by peering through the rims of your car and there are grooves visible you need to have, the surface of your rotors machined at a minimum, possibly needing to replace them.
There are two other considerations for your rotors that bear down on your need to possibly replace them. While you are looking at your rotors for warping or coloring signifying heat damage, look for cracks. They can be minute and web out across the surface of the rotor, but they are still a cause for concern. The other sign of trouble is the thickness of the rotor. Even if there is no heat damage, warping, or cracks, the rotors do wear thin.
The brake pads are designed to have optimum force as they travel to the rotor. The shorter the distance they travel to make contact the more grabbing power they have. As the rotor wears down, it wears thin and forces the brake pad to travel farther sacrificing stopping power. There is no fix for a thin rotor, it must be replaced.
Bad brakes are a hazard to the automobiles operator, the passengers, and anyone who happens to be in the way when the car is unable to stop. Operators of vehicles have a duty of diligence for the condition of their automobiles to include its ability to stop. Ray Weatherspoon Automotive Inc. is a shop that can fix everything on the brake system from the pedal to the brake light and everything in between.
With micrometers to check the thickness of rotors and pads all of the necessary tools are available for getting the job done right. If you are not a brake expert but do want your brakes expertly fixed, this is the right place to entrust your vehicle.
The writer, Ray Donato, is something of a motorhead who does everything he can to try and maintain his vehicle and keep everything in perfect working order. If you wish to learn more about Ray you can visit on Google+