Inspect and Replace Brake Pads and Rotors for Maximum Safety

I don’t think anyone would argue that brakes are the most important safety feature on your car. If you can’t stop, you and everyone in your path are in danger. To function effectively, brake systems need to be checked and serviced regularly. Brake pads should be inspected at least twice a year. Your brake rotors should also be evaluated at the same time. When it comes time to replace your brake pads, you have several different materials to choose from. The following overview should help you keep your brakes in top operating condition.

As long as your brakes seem to be doing their job, it’s easy to ignore them. However, you should take a look at the condition of your brake pads at least twice a year. Fortunately, this is not a difficult requirement. You can often check your brake pads without removing your wheel at all. Assuming you don’t have hubcaps, just look through the wheel at the pads. Measure the amount of pad that is left. You should have a thickness of at least 1/8 inch. If you have any less than that, you should have your brake pads replaced.

While you’re checking the brake pads, take a look at the rotors. The rotors are the metal disks that the brake pads press against. Good rotors should look smooth and shiny, with maybe a few fine lines. If your rotors have any rough spots or deep grooves, you’ll need to service them as well. In years past, many people would have their rotors “turned,” which means grinding and polishing the grooves and rough spots out. However, the price of rotors has dropped so low that most people just replace them.

If you need to replace your brake pads, you can choose from several materials. Ceramic brake pads are the most expensive, but they provide extremely quiet operation and last a really long time. Semi-metallic pads are probably the most popular options. You can also buy “organic” pads, although your vehicle may not be able to use them. Organic pads used to consist of asbestos and carbon, but today the asbestos has been replaced by Kevlar.

Considering how important brakes are to the safety of yourself and others, regular inspection and replacement when necessary costs very little time or money. Don’t just assume your brakes are fine. Take a look around your car and see how your brakes are doing.

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