One of the most industrious parts of your car yet one that chooses to ‘work behind the scenes’ is your brake pad. And just because, it can work for miles at the background, many take it for granted, forgetting that ‘motion without control is only danger-in-pause-mode. The brake system is a big family and we will summarily look over a few key things you should know about of one the most important safety installations in every car.
How you drive: If you often have to go from Ikeja to Lekki (a 38Km trip) by air, using your vehicle, you certainly will need your car’s brake pads checked and replaced more often than your elderly landlord who makes Maryland from Anthony (a 4.8Km drive) in 2hours on a traffic-free road. Consistency of braking and how hard you slam them determines how often you should check those vital pads.
What brake pads you use: There are 3 main classes of brake pads in order of durability and cost (from the least to the highest): semi-metallic, metallic and ceramic. If you use a semi-metallic (which is mostly what we have here in Nigeria), then beyond the brand name, you should also look out for how much brake dust it emits on your wheels. That grey/black soothe-like powder is what is referred to as brake dust. Ceramic brake pads, while the best, are pretty pricey and not so necessary except you have a heavy foot and often on high-doses of adrenaline shots.
Noise from your brake pads: If you ever wondered what that noise sounds like, then listen attentively in almost any major traffic jam, especially in Lagos, and you will hear a shrill/screeching sound as most cars grind to a halt. You need to be keen on listening to this noise in holdup, otherwise, you easily assume it’s the “rhythm of gridlock”. Now if you hear this noise from your vehicle, that’s the metal indicator (shim) built into your brake pads, scratching against your rotors (brake disks). It’s meant to notify you of the need to change your brake pads. When you ignore this, they continue until it’s just a loud grinding noise of metal against metal. Now you see how many deaf drivers we have moving cars around? Lol
Reduced alertness: If your brakes don’t respond as swiftly as they used to when you bought the car (or the last time you changed your brake pads) or if the pedal ‘sinks’ till near the floor of the car before your ride slows down, then it is very likely, there’s a leak in your brake system. You should have that checked by your mechanic, quickly!
Pulls or Vibrations: If your vehicle attempts to pull to one side or vibrates feverishly when you step on your brakes on good speed, then the brakes lining on your rotors are unevenly worn or there is some foreign matter in your vehicle’s brake fluid. Please check this as soon as you can. And if this persist after trying to sort it out, do well to check the vehicle alignment.
Now that we have done a quick shuttle through what makes the brake pads and her first cousins so relevant to the safety of your car, we are hopeful that, starting now, you will begin observing these signs as they are they are one of the few ways a car communicates how closer to danger, each acceleration might be.
And for durable, model-specific brake pads, switch to quality…switch to CARvity!