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Brake pads are the parts of a car's braking system that […]
Brake pads are the parts of a car's braking system that actually take the brunt of the frictional force necessary to stop the car. Brake pads convert the kinetic energy of the car to thermal energy by friction . Two brake pads are contained in the brake caliper with their friction surfaces facing the rotor. When the brakes are hydraulically applied, the caliper clamps or squeezes the two pads together into the spinning rotor to slow/stop the vehicle. When a brake pad is heated by contact with a rotor , it transfers small amounts of friction material to the disc, turning it dull gray.The brake pad and disc (both now with friction material), then "stick" to each other, providing the friction that stops the vehicle.
Brake pads were originally made with organic ingredients such as asbestos and carbon, held together by a strong resin. The use of asbestos was eventually banned by the US government, but some non-metallic or organic versions are still sold. Only vehicles designed for organic pads can use them, however. The same material used in bulletproof vests, Kevlar®, has replaced asbestos in non-metallic brake pads.
Brake pads often have special shims built into them to deliberately create a grinding noise as they wear out, in order to alert drivers to have them replaced as soon as possible. If the pads continue to grind, the exposed metal of the caliper may carve out a channel in the rotor. If such damage occurs, the entire rotor must either be replaced or turned. Mechanics can shave off a thin layer of metal from the rotor to remove minor grooves. Since new rotors are relatively inexpensive, however, many mechanics recommend replacing them entirely. New brake pads can be replaced in a few hours if the owner has the tools and patience to perform the job. It is important to apply a special lubricating grease between the new pads and the calipers to avoid a hideous grinding noise. Calipers may also have to be readjusted to accommodate the thickness of new pads.