Inside Your Car 30 May 2022

Car Parts 101: Rotors and brake pads


Does your car squeal in protest each time you hit the brakes? While some noise doesn’t always imply a problem, if the squeaks are persistent and so high-pitched it makes you flinch, it might be worth taking a look at your rotors and brake pads.

As drivers, it's easy to forget all the mechanical parts that keep your car moving (and stopping), which is why a regular service is so important. Here we look at two vital components of your vehicle’s braking system (the brake pads and rotors), how to tell if they need replacing and — if you’re not averse to swinging a wrench around — how to replace them yourself.

What are brake rotors?

Brake rotors are large metal discs inside your car’s wheels, attached by the vehicle’s axle. They work with the brake pads to safely stop your car when you press the brake pedal.

When to replace brake rotors

In a perfect world, car parts never get old or worn. Unfortunately, there is no fighting Father Time. A worn out brake rotor can warp, crack or have deep score marks. Changing brake rotors before these issues occur is vital to making sure your brakes continue to work the way they should. Sudden stops, “riding” the brakes (like during a long, steep decline), or worn brake pads can all impact the health of your rotors.

Knowing when your brake rotors may need some TLC can help you stay ahead of the curve. Keep an eye on the following for signs of worn rotors:

  • Vibration when braking.
  • Taking longer to slow down.
  • Flashing brake light on the dash.
  • Grinding, squeaking or squealing noises when braking.
  • Grooves worn into the rotor.

What are brake pads?

Brake pads are part of your vehicle’s disc brake system. They are steel plates with pads (friction material) that face the disc brake rotors. When you activate the brake pedal, brake fluid is sent towards your brake callipers which presses the brake pads against the brake rotors.

When to replace brake pads

Brake pads usually last from around 40,000 up to 105,000 kilometres, but how soon you need to change brake pads depends on:

  • How much you drive.
  • The type of driving you do.
  • Where you drive.
  • The type of pads installed.
  • The weight of your vehicle.
  • Whether you tow or carry heavy loads.

With so many varying factors, it can be hard to know the state of your brake pads. So if you’re not sure, ask the team at mycar during your next service.

Signs of worn brake pads

Unless they are screaming for your attention, it can be difficult to pinpoint when your brake pads may be wearing too thin. If you:

  • Can see that friction material has excessively worn down
  • Hear a squealing, screeching, clicking, grinding or metallic scraping noise when you push your foot onto the brake pedal
  • Notice your brake pedal is vibrating when you slow down
  • Notice your car is pulling to one side

Then you may want to have your brake pads checked, and possibly replaced.

Your vehicle's brake system is essential for the safety of you and your passengers. So to make sure they are in the correct position and in good condition, we will always recommend bringing your car in for a professional service.

Have peace of mind knowing we use high-quality product and expert workmanship to make your car stop short, the way it should.

Call mycar today to book your brake system service.

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