Other than the engine, the brakes are the auto parts that need to be in top shape if you want to enjoy safe driving. And as the components that actually stop the brake discs, and in effect, the wheels, the brake pads have to be perfectly functional too. Fortunately, your vehicle's braking system has a way of letting you know once the brake pads become too thin: the brake pad sensor. The brake pad sensor detects the amount of wear on the brake pads. The sensor activates a light on your vehicle's dashboard, alerting you in case the brake pads are too thin to function properly. Once the brake pad light on the dashboard starts to flicker, it only means that the brake pads need to be replaced. So never discount the importance of a brake pad sensor.Once your vehicle's stock sensor succumbs to damage, get a replacement from us.
• Easy brake pad-thinness checking device
• Sends accurate signals to the dashboard
• Equipped with a brake pad light for your convenient notification
Brake Pad Sensor Buyer's Guide
Brake pad sensors are mechanisms that determine the condition of your brake system without you having to hoist your car up to check on your brake pads and brake rotors. Without them, it will be difficult to determine if your brakes are functioning the way they should. This could result in brake failure that can get you into road accidents that can put your life and the life of your passengers at risk. Brake sensors allow you to get any problems with your brakes fixed immediately.
If you’re wondering when to replace your brake pads, it is when you start finding your brake maintenance indicator lighting up. Brake pads are single-use products, so it’s best to get a replacement as soon as possible to ensure consistent performance and a safe drive. Make sure to get the right fit for the best results.
What are the types of brake pad sensors in the market?
Brake pad sensors are classified based on how they are powered. They could either be mechanical or electrical.
American and Japanese made cars usually have this type of sensor. Mechanical brake pad sensors come with a metal clip attachment that is connected to the brake pad. Once the brake pad wears out, the rotor touches the clip causing a screeching noise, thus alerting the user that it’s time for a replacement.
Electrical sensors are usually used in luxury-class cars or European manufactured cars. Unlike the mechanical brake pad sensors, instead of having a clip, this type of sensor has an electrical wire connected to the brake pad. Once the brake pad material wears out, the electrical wire gets pulled out, then activating the warning indicator in the car dashboard.
Signs of a bad brake pad sensor
As mentioned, you will need to replace your brake pad sensor at the same time you experience problems with your brake pad. So, in order to find out when your brake pad sensor is about to go bad, watch out for these symptoms of a failing brake pad.
The brake warning light turns on
This is the most obvious sign of a brake pad going bad. However, this is not the only symptom you should take note of.
Noise coming from the brake system could indicate an issue with the brake pads. Get your vehicle checked as soon as you notice this to get the necessary repairs done before it’s too late.
Vibration coming from the steering wheel or pedal
Experiencing vibrations coming from your steering wheel or pedal could mean that the brake pad is already worn out and that there is metal on metal rubbing already. If left unaddressed, this can cause damage to your rotors as well.
More pressure required to activate the brake pedal
If you find yourself having to press down on the brake pedal harder before you get your car to stop, then your brake pad may be starting to wear out. Do not put the repair off for another time as having this sort of issue can endanger your safety.
Burning smell coming from your tires
This is another sign of brake pad wear that you should not ignore, nor deal with on your own. When this happens, call or go to your trusty mechanic and have it checked. It can be dangerous to continue driving while having this issue.
Replacing brake pads can be quite tricky so have them installed by someone who knows how to replace brake pads for best results. Once you have installed your new brake pad sensors, make sure to have your trusty mechanic reset the brake life service indicator as well to complete the procedure.
How long do brake pad sensors last?
Since they are made to supplement the brake pads, their lifespan is only as long as the brake pad they serve as a sensor to. In general, brake pads can last for about 25,000 to 60,000 miles. However, this is relative to the vehicle’s make and model, as well as the quality of care given by the driver.
How do I take care of my brake pad sensors
Take care of the brake pad sensors the same way you would your brake pads. While brake pad sensors are intended for one-time use only, this does not mean that you would neglect to care for them. Here are ways you can take care of them:
Refrain from frequent stop-and-go driving
This type of driving can strain the brake pads causing them to wear out faster. Although this is pretty common to experience when driving in the city, it is best to prevent getting into such situations if you can. If driving this way is unavoidable, just make sure to get a brake inspection annually.
Do not ride your brakes
One risk of riding your brakes is producing too much heat that the brake fluid ends up boiling which can damage your pads and cause brake fluid later on.
Observe the right speed limit
Driving at the right speed limit will minimize the heat and friction that your vehicle will produce. This will, in turn, lessen the chances of your brake pads and rotors getting worn out.
Do not put unnecessary load on the trunk
The weight of the load on your trunk can grossly affect the performance of your braking system. The extra weight on your trunk can add stress to your brake pads and rotors and cause difficulty stopping.
With brake pad sensors serving a critical role in the safety of the vehicle’s passengers, regular maintenance is a must and getting the right replacement brake pad sensor is just as important.
How much does a brake pad sensor cost?
Brake pad sensors range from $1 - $104 at CarParts.com. The price varies depending on vehicle fitment, brand, and quantity. Bosch brake pads for example go for about $48.00 to $80.00. Some are sold per piece while others are sold per set. CarParts.com has a wide range of sensors from the most credible manufacturers, you can easily find one that’s best for you.
Things to Consider When Shopping for a New Brake Pad Sensor
Shopping for a new brake pad sensor? While many of today's pads are already offered together with this sensor, some pads don't come with this part in the package-you will have to find a separate one. And while shopping for the right sensor could be a challenge, this guide will help you find the best part for your ride without any problem.
What is a brake pad sensor?
This is a sensor attached to the brake pad. What it does is monitor the pad's thickness and alert you when that thickness goes beyond the thinnest level-you'll see the alert in the form of a blinking light on your dash. It is advised that you change the sensor each time you are replacing the pads.
What factors should you look into in your search for a new brake pad sensor?
- Sensor location. Depending on your vehicle, it may have a sensor in all four wheels or just one for the front and one for the rear wheels of your vehicle. Some sensors are specifically designed only for the rear wheels, the front wheels, or the wheels for the driver or the passenger side. Meanwhile, there are sensors that can be used for both the front and rear wheels, for the passenger and the driver side. You need to carefully check the one that you get to ensure that it matches the mounting location.
- Sensor mounting. Depending on the sensor design and the set-up in your braking system, there are sensors that can be easily bolted into the pads and sensors that are plugged and require the use of tools like needle-nose pliers for them to be removed and installed. Check the original one in your auto to determine which part to get.
- Sensor quantity. When you check online, you'll find that sensors come in different packages. Some sensors are offered individually, some in pairs, while others in a set. Find the right package according to your needs and save more dollars in your purchase.
Aside from all these factors, you'll also find that you can narrow down your choices based on the brand of the sensor. There are various brake pad sensor brands today, among which are Celtix, EBC, and Replacement. Most of these brands offer OE replacement sensors. To help you decide, you can look into online reviews and check out the warranty that they offer.
Brake Pad Sensor Installation
Most brake pads today are equipped with a brake pad sensor that is designed to monitor the condition of the brake pads and to emit signals (in the form of a warning noise or a blinking light on the dash) when the pads have reached their minimal thickness and are in need of replacements. It is advised that you replace the sensor together with the pads or when they are damaged.
Here we provide an easy step-by-step instruction in replacing the brake pad sensor in the front brake pads-DIY style. Read on.
Difficulty Level: Easy
- Floor jack
- Jack stands (2)
- Wheel chocks
- Socket wrench
- Needle-nose pliers or socket set
Step 1: Engage the parking brake of your car, plus the park gear or reverse, before turning the engine off. You can also place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels for additional safety.
Step 2: Using your socket wrench, loosen the lug nuts on both front wheels, but do not remove them yet.
Step 3: Lift the front of the car using a floor jack and support each corner with a jack stand.
Step 4: Remove the lug nuts on the front wheels and take the wheels off. Then, locate the brake pad sensors-each pad has one sensor that is attached to the brake caliper.
Step 5: You will see a wiring harness attached to the sensor-unplug the harness.
Step 6: Depending on the kind of sensor in your car, you can take it off using needle-nose pliers or using a socket set (in case the sensor is held by a bolt).
Step 6: Attach the new sensor in place (via the needle-nose pliers or the socket set). Then, plug the wiring harness into the new sensor.
Step 7: Replace the wheels and secure the lug nuts (without totally tightening them).
Step 8: Lift the front corners of your car, then remove the jack stands supporting them until the car is parked on level ground. Only then should you tighten the lug nuts completely.
NOTES: Depending on your car, it may have a sensor on all four wheels or one for the front and one for the rear wheels. There may also be some variations in the installation process. Check your car manual for specific instructions.