Common Issues with Brake Pads

Considering how much you depend on your vehicles brakes, properly maintaining your shouldn’t be a hard and logical choice. If you eventually develop any problems with your brake system, including brake pads, changing them yourself as a DIY project, or having a qualified mechanic complete the project will not be an insurmountable challenge.

A standard indicator of brake pads getting too worn is the screeching sound you hear from your wheels while braking when driving. In this article, we will consider a few of the problems you might be facing with your brake pads, and present the ways to fix these problems.


The essential function of the brake system is to respond to the pressure you apply to the brake pedal by slowing down the car. It would be best to make sure your brake pads are never worn below an optimal level as they could cause unnecessary damage to other brake system components.

In general, two types of brakes are installed in regular vehicles. The two types are disc and drum brakes. Both use friction to slow down cars. Disc brake pads compress against a rotor, while “brake shoes” press against the inside of brake drums.

Both create a lot of friction during use to stop your vehicle, and are parts that are periodically worn out, which is why you must inspect your brake pads and brake shoes often.

Watch out for the following indicators to know when to replace brake pads and shoes:

  1. Squealing Noises: You will notice an un-mistakable high pitch sound when the vehicle brake pads or shoes get worn out. Most newer design pads or shoes will have a metal attachment in the brake that triggers this sound once he pad or shoe is near wearing completely out. The squealing noise typically sounds like fingernails dragging over a chalkboard. When you hear this sound become a regular thing, then you need to inspect your brakes to ensure whether all is well, or if maintenance is required, or go to see a brake specialist. Other newer designs may have an electronic sensor that will illuminate a warning light in your dash. Either way, waiting too long once you hear this sound, or see a brake warning light in your dash, before changing your brake pads is not a good idea because not all brakes will alert you with this sound, or even the dash light, when they have reached a point where they need maintenance, or simply fail.
  2. You See Less Than a Quarter-Inch of Brake Pad During an Inspection: You can check the discs on your brake pad to know if you should consider repaving them. Check the brake caliper holding the brake pads. If you notice the brake pads are compressed against the rotor, you should have them inspected when this friction material is less than a quarter inch.
  3. You Hear a Deep Metallic Grinding or Growling When Applying the Brakes: The brake pads will give out a growling sound when too worn out or when the pad/shoe backing plate is in contact with the disc or drum. This metal-to-metal contact can cause damage to the rotors or calipers if allowed to continue too long. You should repair your braking system when you hear this grinding or growling sound.
  4. Indicator Light Shows on Your Dash: The indicator light in the dashboard will provide you with a warning sign. If the light comes on, it is a strong indicator of a problem with your brakes. In whatever repairs you then carry out, it is advisable to get new brake pads and sensors to replace your old ones, and either turn, or replace your rotors.


This article has provided a brief overview of common problems you might experience with your brake system or brake pads and what each means.

Keep in mind that you can purchase your brake pads and other components to “do it yourself”, or give them to your repairman to install if you do not have the time to do that yourself.

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