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The Consequences of Not Replacing Worn-Out Brake Pads

The Consequences of Not Replacing
Worn-Out Brake Pads

We all know brakes are important for safe driving, however, many drivers don’t realize how crucial it is to replace their brake pads regularly. Like other parts of your car, brake pads are susceptible to wear, especially because they’re constantly exposed to heat and friction. If you wait too long to replace them, it can jeopardize your safety and the safety of others—and cause excessive wear and damage to other parts of your vehicle. 

Understanding the Role of Brake Pads

Whenever you push down the brake pedal, it sets the entire braking system in motion. Hydraulic pressure is applied to the brake calipers, which squeeze the brake pads against the brake rotors or drums. The friction material on the brake pad then slows down or stops your vehicle. 

As you can imagine, this creates a lot of heat and friction on the brake pads, which is why they wear down over time. Several other factors can contribute to brake pad wear as well, including:

  • Driving habits like aggressive driving, frequent braking, and abrupt stops
  • Driving conditions like heavy traffic or stop-and-go traffic 
  • Brake pad quality
  • Vehicle weight

Although it’s typically recommended to replace your brake pads every 10,000 to 20,000 miles, you may need to follow different replacement intervals based on your vehicle, driving conditions, and driving habits. For this reason, it’s always best to have regular inspections and work with your auto repair shop to find the best replacement interval for your needs. 

What Happens if You Don’t Replace Your Brake Pads?

If you don’t replace your brake pads, it can cause several issues, including:

  • Slow response time: Worn-out brake pads can increase the amount of time it takes for your brakes to slow or stop your vehicle, which can significantly increase your risk of accidents. 
  • Severe brake damage: The brake pad material serves as a protective barrier for your rotors. When the material wears down all the way, it causes metal-on-metal contact that can cause severe and expensive damage to the rotors and other braking components and overheating.

Caliper damage: As brake pads wear, the hydraulic piston in the brake calipers pushes out further and further. Eventually, the piston can push out far enough that rust builds up on it and it won’t compress back into the caliper. When this happens, the brake calipers need to be replaced before you can install new brake pads. Typically caliper replacement doubles the price of a brake job. We recommend replacing the brake pads at around 3mm of pad thickness because most caliper problems occur when the pads wear to less than 3mm. 

Recognizing the Signs of Worn Brake Pads

Fortunately, there are several very clear signs that can let you know when your brake pads need to be replaced: 

  • Visibly worn pads that are less than a quarter-inch thick or grooves on the rotor
  • High-pitched screeching or grinding noises when you press the brake pedal
  • A rough feeling in the brake pedal
  • Extended stopping distances or a slow brake response
  • Uneven braking that causes your car to pull to one side
  • Pulsation or vibration in the brake pedal
  • Extremely sensitive or insensitive brakes
  • Brake fluid leaks 
  • An illuminated dashboard brake warning light(s) 

For Reliable Brake Repair, Visit Signal Garage Auto Care

Failing to replace worn-out brake pads not only compromises your safety but also sets off a chain reaction of consequences that can affect your car’s overall performance. As a responsible driver, it’s important to heed the warning signs of worn brake pads, prioritize timely replacements, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a well-maintained braking system. After all, safety should always be in the driver’s seat! In addition, regular brake pad replacements and other types of proactive maintenance are far more economical than repairs. 

Whether you need a new set of brake pads or repairs you can always trust the team at Signal Garage to do what’s best for your vehicle. We treat our customers like extended family and their cars as if they were our own. Contact us today at one of our three convenient locations or request an appointment online!

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