No matter how far you drive around Palatine, Arlington Heights, or Rolling Meadows, Illinois, you want a reliable set of brakes to help you get safely home again.
Your car’s braking system is full of intricate mechanical parts that all work together to slow your vehicle down. It’s kind of like the gears of a clock or members of a team.
Here at Arlington Toyota, we’ve put together this guide so you can learn how brake pads work vs. how rotors work. Knowing about these two important team players will help you take care of your vehicle!
When the brakes are applied, the brake fluid puts pressure on the brake calipers (which is a clamp positioned on the rotor). The calipers then squeeze the brake pads into the rotors. The resulting friction between the brake pad and rotor is what helps slow the car to a stop.
But what are brake pads and rotors, anyway?
What Are Brake Pads?
Brake pads most frequently come in ceramic materials or are partially metal. You should have two per wheel, one on either side of the rotor. When the brakes are applied, the pads squeeze inward, rubbing against the rotor.
What Are Rotors?
Brake rotors, as mentioned, are positioned between the brake pads and are rubbed against to create friction to stop your car. There is one rotor for each wheel, meaning your car has a total of four rotors at any given time. To help withstand the burning friction for prolonged periods, they’re made of durable metal.
All that friction wears out brake pads and eventually wears out the rotors, too.
Loud squeaking from the brakes can be a sign of brake pad wear, so when you hear something unusual, you should check on the pads. Most brake pads should come with a built-in wear sensor, which will screech like sheet metal breaking when the pads are on their last legs and need immediate maintenance.
A good symptom that rotors are wearing out is if your car’s brakes don’t respond like they used to. If you’re applying the brakes, and it’s taking a while for them to react, or you need to apply more pressure than before, it’s high to look at the rotors.
For both braking system team members, you want to be able to replace parts out before they become a problem. You should have both your car’s brake pads and rotors looked over as part of your regular engine or car maintenance, and you should replace them as needed.
The process of changing out brake pads vs. replacing rotors is not very different. In both instances, your servicer will have to get under the car and remove the wheel and unclamp the brake calipers.
Once your car’s old brake pads have been removed, it is easy to access your car’s rotors.
Old rotors don’t always need to be replaced. In some instances, where there isn’t severe damage, such as cracks or rust, it can be “resurfaced”. Your service technician will rotate the rotor, cut off the old surface, and leave behind a smooth layer.
If there is significant damage to the rotor, and/or cutting away a layer would make it too thin, it’ll need to be replaced, just like an old brake pad would.
If you need to have either part replaced, maintained, or you just need a professional opinion, consider visiting your dealership’s service center. Our dedicated professionals are ready to make sure your car’s braking system stays in working order for the miles up ahead.
To recap, the braking system is not just about your car’s brake pads or your car’s rotors, and it’s not a competition of brake pads vs. rotors. This is a team effort, and you are the most important player of all.
Your job is to regularly inspect your car’s brake pads, rotors, and more, and take your vehicle in for regular maintenance. That way, your car will be able to keep up with the sights near Palatine, Arlington Heights, and Rolling Meadows, IL.
Schedule maintenance today at Arlington of Toyota. We’re happy to take a look at your car’s brakes!