What is a brake pad replacement?
The brake rotor (also known as the disc) is a round metal plate in your car’s brake assembly that spins with the wheel. When you press your brake pedal, brake pads assert pressure onto the rotor/ disc, and that friction slows and stops the tire.
Brake pads usually wear out more quickly than the brake rotor/disc, but rotors will eventually go bad as well. They might get warped, rutted, pitted, rusty, or otherwise worn out. And if that damage becomes too severe, it puts you at very serious risk of an accident.
Brake rotors/discs replacement isn’t a procedure you should expect to pay for frequently, but when it does become necessary, you’ll usually pay around $250 to $600 per axle (meaning both front tires or both rear tires), depending on the make and model of the car and the availability of parts.
You’ll want to replace the rotors and pads on both wheels on a single axle to maintain balanced braking performance. Make sure you call several repair shops and get multiple quotes so you get the best price!
How to perform a brake pad replacement
Here’s what your mechanic will do during a brake rotors/discs replacement:
- Remove the wheels on both sides of the axle
- Remove the brake calipers from the rotors
- Remove the brake rotor and brake pads
- Lubricate the rotors and install them
- Install the new brake pads
- Reattach the brake calipers
- Check the brake fluid level
- Repeat all of these steps on the other wheel
- Test drive the car to make sure the brakes are working properly
Note: This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide. Please don’t try to replace brake rotors on your own unless you have some experience working on cars.
Do I need a brake rotors/disc replacement?
How can you tell when a brake rotors/disc replacement is necessary? Here are some of the warning signs:
- An indicator light comes on. In most modern cars, this is depicted as a circle with six dashes around it. But in some cars, it might simply appear as the word “brakes” or even just a check engine light.
- Squealing brakes. If the brakes are squealing or screeching, get them checked out immediately.
- The car shutters or shakes when you brake. This could be any number of problems, but brake rotors are a key suspect most of the time.
- Brake pedal vibrating or pulsating. This might just be a problem with the brake pads, but it could be a rotor issue.
- Your car swerves or wobbles when you brake. This might indicate several problems, but it’s a good idea to get this checked out pronto!
- The brake rotors/discs look severely rusted or damaged. It’s difficult to get a good measure of this without equipment, but if the rotors look poorly, get it looked at by a professional mechanic.
How important is a brake rotors/discs replacement?
Your brakes are the most important safety feature your car has, period. It’s possible none of your other safety features—airbags, seatbelts, radar, etc.— will be necessary if your brakes work adequately. But if they fail, it might take all of those other systems to save a life!
If you suspect there’s any problem with your brakes, even a minor one, take your car to a professional repair shop as quickly as possible, and if the car is unsafe to drive, have it towed. If you’ve invested in Jerry’s roadside assistance program, now is the perfect time to put it to use.
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