FAQs—Pontiac Brake Disc and Pad Kit
While they do share the same purpose of slowing down a vehicle in motion, a brake disc system works in an entirely different manner than the brake drum in achieving that goal. Unlike brake drums which consist of a iron drum and a pair of brake ‘shoes’, the brake disc system is made up of a large metal rotor, a pair of brake pads, and a hydraulic clamp called a caliper. When you step on the brake pedal, hydraulic fluid from the caliper forces the pad to push against the drum, generating friction that slows the wheels down.
There are many advantages of brake discs over the brake drum system, including increased stopping power, better heat dissipation, and better “brake feel”. Brake discs are also more commonly available than their drum counterparts.
Slotted brake discs have special slots that bring cool air into the disc, reducing brake fade, water building and heat. These types of discs are also highly resistant to rust and debris. Vented brake discs work similarly to that of slotted brake discs in that they also bring in air to reduce heat when braking, but they are also specially designed for frequent stopping and city driving. Dimpled brake discs, on the other hand, have dimples that reduce stress on the disc and prevent cracks and fractures on the surface. Dimpled discs are suitable for high-speed long distance travels as well as for vehicles that often undergo sudden stopping situations such as buses.
The brake pads in your Pontiac are either one of three types, namely the ceramic brake pads, semi-metallic pads, and organic pads. Ceramic pads are made of ceramic and copper fiber and are usually found in most passenger vehicles. These pads do not generate much noise and brake dust and are gentler on the brake disc. Semi-metallic pads contain metallic fibers embedded into the pad compound. They are cheaper and handle high temperatures and severe weather conditions better than other types of pads, but they also generate more noise and have a relatively short lifespan. Organic or NAO pads are made of glass, rubber, carbon, and more natural fibers and are quieter and have a longer service life, but they can be quite expensive and are not suitable for high temperature conditions.
The easiest way to determine worn brake pads is a loud, high-pitched squealing particularly when braking. Other symptoms may include the vehicle pulling to one side while braking or excessive vibrations. And if you notice that the buzz or squeaking noise from your Pontiac has turned into a grinding sound, the brake pads have become worn to the point that they are already damaging the brake rotors and must be replaced immediately. Most brake pads available today also come with built-in wear indicators that signal when the pads need to be replaced.
A thorough visual inspection is one great way to check if your car’s brake disc is worn and needs replacing. Some of the things you need to look out for include rust, severe abrasions, and warping on the disc surface. High-pitched noises may also indicate a worn out disc, as this means the wear indicator is rubbing against metal. And if you notice that the brakes seem to take longer to stop, this may also indicate a worn out disc. When this happens, be sure to replace it as soon as possible. If the disc becomes too worn or gouged out, it will also damage the other components of your Pontiac’s brakes and rack up your repair bill.
A common problem in vehicles with disc brake systems, brake fade describes the partial or total loss of braking power caused by the brake pad and disc no longer generating enough friction to stop the vehicle. This can be prevented by ‘bedding in’ new brakes properly, avoiding sudden braking when going downhill, checking and replacing pads upon the first signs of wear, and changing old brake fluid.
- What’s the difference between a brake disc and a brake drum?
- What are the benefits of using brake discs?
- What’s the difference between slotted, vented, and dimpled brake discs?
- What are the different kinds of brake pads?
- How will I know if my car’s brake pads are already worn out?
- What are the signs of a worn-out brake disc?
- What is brake fade and how can I prevent it?