Brake Disc and Pad Kit Buyer's Guide
- A brake disc and pad kit includes rotors and pads. Instead of purchasing these parts separately, you can get a kit to save time and money.
- A brake disc is attached to a wheel, while a caliper is attached and installed around the disc to create friction with the rotors. Brake pads, on the other hand, are the ones responsible for creating friction. These pads are fitted to either side of the caliper. By putting your foot on the brake, the pressure stored in the brake fluid pushes the piston against the caliper.
- There are three types of brake pads: organic, ceramic, and semi-metallic.
- There are four types of brake discs: flat, vented, drilled, and slotted or grooved.
- A complete brake disc and pad kit would cost around $250- $500. This price may vary depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle.
- Brake systems need to be well maintained. This will ensure the system’s best performance. Ideally, brake pads need to be replaced every 50,000-70,000 miles.
One of the major components of a car is its brake system. It is considered the most important safety mechanisms in every vehicle. Because of this, it is very important to ensure that your brake discs and pads are in good condition.
What are the components of a brake disc and pad kit?
As the name implies, a brake disc and pad kit includes brake discs or rotors and brake pads. These are major components of your vehicle's braking system that you need to replace if you want to restore or upgrade your vehicle's braking power.
What role does each component play in the brake system?
Brake discs are often the first choice when it comes to a modern vehicle’s braking system. It is more popular compared to drum brakes because it is more efficient and self-adjusting. A brake disc is attached to a wheel, while a caliper is attached and installed around the disc to create friction with the rotors.
Brake pads are responsible for creating this friction. These pads are fitted to either side of the caliper. By putting your foot on the brake, the pressure stored in the brake fluid pushes the piston against the caliper. The caliper then squeezes the brake pads against the brake disc to restrict the ability of the wheel to move freely. The speed of the car slows down gradually when all four tires are restricted.
Types of brake pads
These are the three common types of brake pads:
Organic brake pads
Organic brake pads are made of non-asbestos based materials such as rubber, carbon compounds, glass, or fiberglass. These materials are bound together using resin which is much safer alternative to asbestos.
Organic brake pads tend to produce less dust. It is also less expensive compared to other types of brake pads. However, because it is organic, it is easily worn out. It also creates moderate friction, making it only suitable for light vehicles.
Ceramic brake pads
These pads are made of materials similar to the ones used in pottery, only more dense and durable. Ceramic brake pads are equipped with fine copper fibers within that increase heat and friction.
These pads are highly recommended because it produces less noise. and dust. It is similar to organic brake pads but is more expensive because of its high manufacturing cost. Ceramic brake pads are less likely to falter even during extreme weather conditions.
Semi-metallic brake pads
This type of pad is made of 30-70 percent metal which include copper, iron, steel, and composite alloy. These metals are combined with other fillers and graphite lubricants.
Because metals are good conductors, this type of brake pad can withstand more heat. This gives the brake system a faster cool down time. Semi-metallic brake pads also have a very high braking performance, making it the number one choice for performance-driven drivers.
One disadvantage in using this kind of brake pad is that it tends to produce more noise and brake dust compared to ceramic and organic brake pads.
Types of brake discs
Just like brake pads, brake discs also come in different types. A typical brake disc usually looks like a flat and smooth disc made of iron. Here are four common types of brake discs in terms of design:
Flat discs are the most common type of brake discs. These are efficient in terms of braking power because of its wide surface. This type of disc is usually ideal for smaller vehicles.
This type of look like two flat discs joined together with spokes in between. A gap between the two discs allows heat generated by the contact surfaces to escape freely. The only disadvantage of using this type of disc is its weight.
A drilld disc is also vented for heat to pass through. Its weight is slightly reduced because of these holes, making it lighter compared to a vented disc.
Slotted or grooved disc
This type of brake disc is much more like the drilled disc. The grooves in this type of disc provide a way for heat, gas and other waste materials to pass through. A downside to this type of disc is that it makes noise when the grooves come in contact with the brake pads.
Why is it important to have your brake discs and pads replaced regularly?
Brake systems need to be well maintained. This will ensure the system’s best performance. Ideally, brake pads need to be replaced every 50,000-70,000 miles. Keep this in mind before you start looking into a brake pad or brake disc replacement. To get a more accurate estimate for your vehicle, you can consult your car’s user manual.
If you notice that your brake system is already worn out, have it checked by a trusted mechanic immediately. Look for unusual signs like noise or sparks coming from the brakes. When choosing the right brake disc and pad kit for your vehicle, remember to take into consideration your driving habits, weather conditions of where you live. These factors can have a major effect on the durability of your brake discs and pads.
What to consider when buying brake pads and discs
There are different types of brake disc and pad kits to choose from depending on your application. There are OE replacement kits for those who need to simply restore their car's braking power as well as performance and track / racing kits for those looking for upgraded braking power. Below are just some of the things you need to think about when shopping for a kit for your vehicle.
Are you keeping it stock or are you going for upgrades?
Consider whether or not you want to keep your brake set-up stock. Keeping the brakes stock is ideal when you have no other modifications done to the vehicle. But we advise that you go for an aftermarket upgrade if you have began to beef up the your ride with performance goodies.
On the other hand, if you are going for a disc brake conversion, you will have to look for a suitable kit that will be able to handle the momentum of your vehicle. More than that, it should provide you a sense of improvement in handling and braking.
The bottom line: you should be getting the kit that complies or even surpasses the required stopping power needed to match the engine output and weight of your vehicle. Going sub-par will only put you in harm's way.
Find the kits that are designed to fit your vehicle.
When shopping for the right kit for your vehicle, you should narrow down your selection to those that would fit your current set-up. That is unless you are willing to upgrade your wheels, spindles, suspension, and other components. You should make use of the vehicle manual and product catalogs to match the right application. Also, consider the environment and activities where your vehicle operates.
Remember that the kits have different calipers, mounts, rotor diameter sizes, pad compound and finishes. Once you have sorted these things out, then you are good to go.
How much does a brake and pad kit cost?
A complete brake disc and pad kit would cost around $250- $500. This price may vary depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle.
These kits are often sold in 2-wheel and 4-wheel sets, but a lot of the parts in the kit can also be purchased individually. For example, a set of brake pads sold separately will cost around $30 each.
How to install a brake disc and pad kit
If you experience grinding, vibration, or hear squealing sounds whenever you step on the brakes, it’s time to check your braking system. Most probably, you’ll need to invest in a new brake disc and pad kit. Installing this kit is easy.
Jack and jack stands
Wrench, lug wrench, and socket
C-clamp or brake pad spreader
Brake lubricant and brake part cleaner
Sand paper or wire brush
Step 1: Prepping up your vehicle
Loosen the lug nuts but don’t remove them yet. Jack up the car, place jack stands underneath, and lower your ride until it lands on the stands. Then completely loosen the lug nuts to remove the wheel.
Step 2: Removing old pads
Depending on your car make and model, you might need to first remove the calipers and the attached hose. Then siphon out the brake fluid from the master cylinder. Remove the cap from the brake fluid reservoir and use a paper towel or rag to cover the reservoir and prevent contaminants from getting in. In order to access the pads, you need to press the pistons attached to the caliper out of the way. Depending on your vehicle make and model, you can use a C-clamp to push back the pistons or a screwdriver to screw them in and release the pads.
Step 3: Removing old discs
Using a rubber mallet or screw driver, loosen the rotor until you can slide it off from the lug studs. If the rotor is attached with a set screw, you’ll need an impact driver to remove it.
Step 4: Installing the new discs
Clean the new discs with a carb cleaner. Then attach them by reversing the removal method. Re-attach the pad bracket, calipers, and hose that you’ve removed previously. Tighten bolts with a socket, clean the caliber’s slide pins with a wire brush, and apply lubricant on the surfaces that’ll slide together.
Step 5: Attaching the new pads
Screw in or compress the caliper piston with a C-clamp. Make sure you’ve opened the bleeder screw before compressing to let the brake fluid come out. Attach the new pads into the bracket or caliper by using a flat screwdriver to pry open the bracket. Reattach the reassembled caliper onto the pad bracket. Reinstall the wheels and tighten the lug nuts. Take your car for a test drive and see if the brakes are working smoothly.