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Summary
  • Don safety glasses, raise your car, and remove the necessary parts to expose the brake pads.
  • Visually inspect the brake pads for visible signs of damage and wear.
  • Use a brake pad thickness gauge set or a digital caliper to measure the brake pad’s thickness.
  • Check the brake pad’s friction lining for contamination, cracks, glazing, and other physical damage.

Diagnosing a set of worn brake pads is pretty easy. Generally, all you need are your eyes and a few simple tools.

Note: The following is a general guide for educational and entertainment purposes only. Consult your vehicle’s factory information for specific repair instructions and recommended safety procedures.

Inspect the Pads for Wear and Damage

Inspecting and measuring your brake pads is the best way to go. Sometimes, you can peek through your car’s wheel with a flashlight to perform a cursory inspection of the pads. But the most thorough method involves the removal of your wheel/tire assembly and checking the brake pads for minimum thickness and physical damage. Here’s how it’s done:

1. Put on your safety glasses.

2. Safely raise the vehicle and support it with jack stands.

3. Remove the wheel and tire assembly.

4. Remove the brake pads from the caliper.

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Note: You can usually measure thickness without removing the pads from the caliper. In this article, however, we are also checking the pad friction lining for physical damage, which requires pad removal.

, How to Diagnose Worn Brake Pads
The most thorough method to inspect brake pads involves the removal of the wheel/tire assembly and checking the brake pads for minimum thickness and physical damage.

5. Use either a brake pad thickness gauge set or a digital caliper to measure the thickness of the pad.

  • Use your tool to measure the amount of friction lining from the backing plate to the top of the pad. Be sure to measure both the inner and outer pads at several points.
  • Replacement is generally recommended if the amount of friction material left on the pad is 4mm or less at any point. Some professionals recommend replacement at 6mm or less.
  • If the measurement is 3mm or less at any point, the pads should be replaced immediately. The pads should also be replaced if they show signs of significantly uneven wear.

6. In addition to measuring pad thickness, you’ll want to check the friction lining for physical damage that would warrant replacement, such as:

  • Contamination (from fluids or grease)
  • Cracks and large chips
  • Glazing

If the pads look worn or damaged, you’ll want to replace them right away.

Check out these tutorial videos on how to replace your front and rear brake pads:

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On the other hand, if the pads look good, you can put everything back together. Once everything is reassembled and the car is back on the ground, pump the brakes several times to ensure they feel firm. DO NOT drive the car until the brakes feel solid.

How to Get Replacement Brake Pads for Your Vehicle

If you think driving around with damaged brake pads is no big deal, think again. Faulty brake pads make your brakes unpredictable, increasing your risk of getting into an accident. They can also damage other parts of your brake system and lead to a more expensive repair bill. For your own sake, it’s best to replace your damaged brake pads as soon as possible. Luckily, getting brand-new brake pads is fast and easy with CarParts.com.

CarParts.com offers a wide selection of brake pads, sourced from only the most trusted manufacturers in the industry. For easier browsing, make sure to use our vehicle selector and search filters. Just enter your vehicle’s details, and you’ll be able to see all the available parts that are compatible with your ride. If you’re itching to get back on the road, you’ll be pleased to know that CarParts.com also guarantees fast shipping. Order by 12 PM ET, and you can expect your new brake pads to arrive in as fast as two business days.

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Don’t wait until your brake pads damage other parts of your brake system before replacing them. Check out our catalog of high-quality brake pad sets at CarParts.com and order yours today!

Shop this Project

Powerstop® – 16-1892 Front Low-Dust Ceramic Brake Pads
, How to Diagnose Worn Brake Pads
$30.49 Price and rating may change from the time content is published.
TRW® – TXH1760 Front 2-Wheel Set Semi-Metallic Brake Pads, Premium Braking Series
, How to Diagnose Worn Brake Pads
$41.99 Price and rating may change from the time content is published.
About The Author
Written By Automotive Subject Matter Expert at CarParts.com

Mia Bevacqua has over 14 years of experience in the auto industry and holds a bachelor’s degree in Advanced Automotive Systems. Certifications include ASE Master Automobile Technician, Master Medium/Heavy Truck Technician, L1, L2, L3, and L4 Advanced Level Specialist. Mia loves fixer-upper oddballs, like her 1987 Cavalier Z-24 and 1998 Astro Van AWD.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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