Step one in checking your vehicle’s brake pads is to remove all four tires. If you don’t have access to a vehicle lift, this could be a time consuming process. Therefore it’s advantageous for you to visually check your brake pads anytime you have your mechanic rotate your tires.
What to look for: When the wheel is removed, it exposes a shiny disc shaped object called a rotor. Inspect this first for grooving and scoring, which is one indicator that your brake pads should be changed. If the grooves are deep enough, the rotor itself may need to be replaced as well.
Your final indicator will be to check the brake pads themselves, which are housed within an assembly called the caliper (this is the piece that hangs over the rotor with a clamp-like appearance). Brake pads exist on both sides of the rotor and should be checked for thickness. The width of a standard new brake pad is 12mm, and should be replaced when it reaches 2mm – or about the thickness of two stacked pennies.
If you’re having difficulty determining the remaining thickness of your brake pads, you can purchase a brake pad gauge by visiting your local auto parts store.
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