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 Brake pads should really be called friction pads. Brake pads use a combination of force and friction to slow the vehicle down when the brakes are applied. There are also brake shoes. The difference between the two is that brake pads clamp themselves onto a rotating disc to convert the driving force of a moving vehicle into heat in order to stop the vehicle, whereas brake shoes push out against a rotating drum in order to accomplish the same task.

While some vehicles have disc brakes and others drums, the end result of hitting the brakes should ideally be the same either way—foot goes down and car, truck, or giant RV stops. Another function of the brake pad material is to keep the discs from getting gummed up with the friction material that the pads themselves are made of. Each time the brake pads clamp themselves onto the rotor and stop the vehicle, a small amount of the material turns from brake pad into dust. A smaller amount of the brake rotor itself also turns into dust. This dust unfortunately deposits itself all over the wheels. Brake pads and rotors are wear items that for obvious reasons should be checked and replaced on a regular basis.

While swapping in a new set of pads for worn out old ones seems pretty simple, it's a task to nonetheless take very seriously. A service manual is crucial, as a mistake or shortcut made during brake assembly could have dire circumstances. Minimum thicknesses of brake pads and rotors are rules to live and keep living by. New brake pads should never be installed on worn rotors into malfunctioning calipers. Particular care should be taken with ABS systems. All that said, the next choice to be made in a brake pad replacement is the characteristics of the brake pad material itself.

 In the world of brake pad material, there is no one best material that works for every situation. Brake pad material designed for everyday moderate driving will quickly overheat during performance driving and cause rapid wear along with brake fade. On the other hand, high performance brake pad material will never get hot enough to create braking friction under normal street driving. Another rule of thumb is the more aggressive the brake material, the more rapid rotor or drum wear will occur. Noise is also a concern as with greater performance more noise is to be expected.

What type of brake pad is best suited for my vehicle?

The key to selecting the right material is to determine what type of brake pad material best suits your driving style. If driving down to the corner store and returning the occasional video is your routine, then super-performance pads are not required and may actually bring a decrease in around-town performance. If track days or canyon runs are marked out on your driving calendar, then a higher performance pad may be just the ticket as standard compounds won't hold up to that kind of driving punishment. On the everyday list of brake pads are those made of organic materials. Organic pads feature moderate stopping power and wear along with low or no noise.

 Next up in line are the metallic or semi-metallic pads. Actual metal embedded in the pad material makes these pads more aggressive—but can also bring more noise and disc wear along to the stopping party. Semi-metallic pads can be considered for an upgrade over organics. The latest and greatest brake pad material is ceramic. The ceramic compounds are said to offer the best of both worlds, with superior stopping power and long wear along with low or no noise. Another bonus to ceramics is low dusting—which can keep those fancy wheels cleaner longer. Within these general compound guidelines there are many variants. To rule out guesswork, stick with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacture)-specified material and upgrade only if a suitable replacement is available.

if you are ready to install your new brake pads, then follow along with the step by step tutorial.

After removing the wheels, use brake cleaner to remove dust and grime. Do not use compressed air. Do not breathe brake dust. Always leave one side assembled for reference. This will make it easier on you in case you need a reference. You can go look at the other side to see how you are coming along and if you are installing your new brake pads correctly.

Loosen the brake reservoir cover to allow air to escape. Note the brake fluid level.

Do not strip out any mounting screws if rotor removal is required. A light tap on the screwdriver with a hammer may be enough to loosen. If not, use an impact screwdriver. if you strip these screws, you are asking for trouble.

On some brake systems, removal of the caliper bolts may be required to change the brake pads. Always consult the service manual for the proper procedure. Always torque fasteners to specification. 

Remove the caliper if required. Never allow a caliper to hang from the brake hose, this could result in hose or line damage. Remove the old brake pads and note the position of the clips, shims, and tabs.

In this case, the locating tab on the in-board rear brake pad must ride in the groove of the caliper piston for proper operation. Note that the rear in-board pad has no shim installed for this reason.

To install the new brake pads, the brake caliper piston must be compressed back into the caliper for clearance. Screw-type pistons require a special tool.

 Clean the caliper piston before compressing it back into the caliper to help prevent contamination.

Another type of caliper piston tool is used to compress the front pistons. Note the use of wire to prevent the caliper from hanging. This prevents any damage to the brake line or hose.

Keep an eye on the brake fluid level while compressing the pistons. Brake fluid will destroy painted finishes. As you compress the pistons, the fluid in the lines will rush back to the reservior. Siphon off the excess to prevent overflow and paint damage.

Anti-vibration material can help prevent squeal, and it also holds the shims in place during assembly. Apply a thin layer. Allow both sides to tack up. Mount the shims to the pads.

Apply a small amount of specified high-temperature grease to the caliper slider pins if required. 

The rear rotor was worn beyond limits and replaced. Never install new pads onto a rotor worn beyond specified operating thickness. This will cause brake pedal pulsing and is also dangerous.

 You may need to bleed the brake lines to get any air out of the lines that may have managed to find its way in there during the installation process

After installing your new brake pads, the brake pads should be broken-in, or bedded-in for best results. After making certain the system is in operating order and the installation is complete, hit the road and bed-in the brake pads. One method is to drive the vehicle and make 8-10 full stops at moderate speeds followed by a cool-down period. Pick a boulevard with a good amount of stoplights but not a ton of traffic. After the eighth or tenth stop, park the vehicle and allow the brakes to cool for around 20 minutes. Go grab a burger and shake or quadruple latte. Do not apply the parking brake during this cool-off period. Do not drag brakes during cool off. After lunch or latte perform exactly the same procedure on the way back to home base. Eight to 10 roll-and-stops followed by a cool-down period without use of the parking brake. This procedure heat-cycles the materials in the pads so that they can keep a balance of friction while preventing the discs from getting gummed up with pad material.

 Keep in mind that brake pad bed-in recommendations vary by manufacturer. Performance pads may require specific bed-in procedures unique to material in the pad. Performing a bed-in prior to normal use is a good way to insure peak performance and longevity of any brake pad after an install. Follow along with the step-by-steps for more tips for slowing down

Install pads into the caliper making sure all shims, anti-rattle clips, and tabs are in the right place. Use brake cleaner to remove any contaminants from the pad surfaces before mounting the caliper on the disc.

Mount the caliper on the disc. Clean one last time with brake cleaner. Torque the mounting bolts to specifications. Follow the service manual's recommendations for ABS systems. Depress the brake pedal to reseat the caliper piston. Check the disc for rotation.

The front pads were not only worn beyond limits, but also glazed. Glazed brake pads suffer a loss in efficiency as they lose their bite. And will also cause unnecessary brake noise

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