What Are Brake Pads?

Thank your brake pads every time you have to stop your vehicle. Whether you’re slamming on the brakes to avoid a sudden collision or coming to a gentle stop at a stop sign, find out what are brake pads and signs that you need a replacement set. Discover how to shop for the best brake system replacement parts to keep your vehicle stopping on a dime.

The Purpose of Brake Pads

These small components see all the action when you hit your brake pedal. As you press down on your pedal, your brake calipers press the pads against the brake rotors. The high-friction material on the pads pushes against a smooth metal rotor and causes enough friction to slow and stop your vehicle.

Pads are only used with rotors. Drum brakes use brake shoes instead. This type of braking system is common for rear wheels and emergency brakes. Brake pads are more affordable and have a smaller surface area for slowing or stopping your vehicle.

Types of Brake Pad Material

There are many different types of brake pad materials, which each interact with your brake rotors in a different way. Some are designed to offer more efficient braking power, while others are designed for long-lasting performance. Here are the most common types of brake pads to choose from:




Many brake pad types have what’s called a squealer. This is a small metal piece in the middle of the pad. When it wears down and is nearly out of stopping power, a squealer creates a loud metallic sound every time you press down on your brake pedal. This piece is a great way to remind you that it’s time to swap out your brakes.

A more quiet alternative is wear patterns on your pads. These patterns, like the wear lines on your tires, make it easy to perform a visual inspection of your brake pads.

Signs You Need New Pads

The most obvious signs that you need new brake pads may be too late. When you’re struggling to come to a complete stop, your brakes are completely worn out. Wearing your pads down to the metal backing can damage your rotors and create a dangerous driving situation.

Another common sign of worn-out brakes is a squealing, metal-on-metal sound. This can happen because your pads are worn down completely or because they have a squealer included.

If you want to avoid these extreme signs, routinely inspect your brake pads. Find out an approximate replacement schedule and inspect them to look for signs of wear. When they are worn past the markers or unevenly worn, it’s time for a brake repair project.

Uneven pad wear or sticking brakes may be caused by damaged calipers or rotors rather than pads. You’ll still need to replace the pads, but be sure you inspect these other components to ensure a safe and efficient repair.

Shop for the latest brake pads today and save money on quality replacement pads for your vehicle. Enjoy a wide variety of options when you shop online or stop by your trusted auto parts store for more information.