Brake Pad Replacement in Walnut Creek
Welcome to Frank’s Auto Service – the leading Walnut Creek auto repair shop. Among the full range of Walnut Creek auto repairs we offer, brake service and repair, and specifically brake pad replacement, is one of the most frequent.
Made of friction material, brake pads get pressed against the surface of rotors during braking. Rotors, being attached to the wheels, transfer the friction force to the wheels which causes them to slow down, and eventually the car stops. As brake pads do their work, the friction causes the pads to wear down. Eventually the pads need to be replaced, or all the friction material will be gone and the brakes will be “metal to metal”, which in turn will damage the rotors and require rotor replacement.
How to tell if it’s time for brake pads to be replaced?
There are many clues your car will give you when it’s time for brake pad replacement - they really mean you should take your car to a professional mechanic:
- We all know this sound - squealing brakes – if you ever heard a car with squealing brakes, you know something is not right. It’s time for a visit to your trusted mechanic.
- Most recently built vehicles have electronic sensors built into the pads – the vehicle will light a warning light on the dashboard to let you know that brake pads need to be replaced. Brake pads are typically replaced in pairs – either front axle or rear axle. Because of differences in the amount of force acting on the pads in the front vs. the rear, it’s rare that both front and rear brake pads need to be replaced at the same time, thought it does happen now and then.
- Grinding noise when braking – this usually indicates that brake pads are worn down and your vehicle’s brakes are “metal to metal”. At this point it’s likely that rotors are damaged as well and the brake repair will involve rotor replacement. Get your car to a shop immediately – safety is at stake.
- Brake pedal pulsating or vehicle vibration – this could be a sign that brake rotors are warped. In the olden days, brake rotors would be resurfaced (using lathe to cut and eliminate uneven spots to create a flat, smooth surface again), and could be reused. Today, rotors are much thinner than they used to be, because manufacturers are trying to save weight to comply with EPA fuel efficiency standards. Cost is also a factor - as a result, most of the time, brake rotors are simply replaced.
- Brake system warning light on the dashboard, or a brake system maintenance message should be taken very seriously and you should get your vehicle serviced as soon as possible – safety could be at stake.
- Car pulling to either side while braking is likely an indication that brake calipers need to be replaced. Just like the brake pads, brake calipers are typically replaced in pairs, even if only one is not working correctly. Fortunately brake caliper replacement is fairly rare compared to brake pad replacement.
What is involved in brake pad replacement?
At Frank’s Auto Service we start with an overall visual inspection, then take off the wheels, inspect brake pads visually, check that calipers are operating properly (malfunctioning calipers should be replaced at the same time), then measure brake pad thickness. In most cases, if the friction material thickness is less than 2 mm, brake pads should be replaced.
As mentioned previously, brake pads are replaced in pairs, either front or rear. Sometimes both front and rear brake pads need to be replaced at the same time, but it is rare.
During brake pad replacement, we will also lubricate components of the brake system. We also check condition of the brake fluid, and we top off the brake fluid if needed. We also check brake lines for any leaks. Once the new brake pads are installed, and wheels are back on, we perform the final check – our technician will take your vehicle for a test drive, to make sure the brakes work correctly under real world conditions.
Among vehicle safety systems, brakes are probably the most critical system. If you have even the slightest concern about your vehicle’s brakes, bring your car to Frank’s Auto Service. We employ nationally ASE certified technicians, who can perform a professional brake inspection and let you know what needs to be done. You can setup an appointment online, or simply call us at the shop.