What Is A Brake Pad And Why Is It Important?

Because brake pads are disposable parts that need to be replaced once in a while, it’s worth taking a few minutes to learn about brake pads and how they work.

What is a Brake Pad?

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Brake pads work with the rotor to stop your vehicle in a matter of seconds. A brake pad looks like a grinding stone with a metal backing plate. It’s about 8” long, 4” wide, and 3/4” thick.

The metal backing plate is designed to fit into the caliper. The friction material (the part that looks like a grinding stone) is designed to create enough heat and friction with the rotor to stop the vehicle. There are several different kinds of friction material you would find on a brake pad:

  1. Semi-metallic: made of steel wool or wire, graphite or copper, and fillers
  2. Non-asbestos organic: composed of fibers, resins, and fillers
  3. Low-metallic NAO: made of organic materials with a low amount of steel or copper
  4. Ceramic: made of ceramic fibers, bonding agents, a little bit of metal, and fillers

The friction material on most Ford brake pads is semi-metallic. It’s the best type of brake pad friction material for daily driving because it lasts a long time and it has excellent heat transfer capability.

How Does a Brake Pad Help Stop Your Car?

Your Ford’s disc braking system has a few primary components:

  • Brake caliper
  • Brake pads
  • Brake rotor

The brake caliper is wrapped around the rotor. The caliper holds one brake pad on each side of the rotor. When you apply the brakes, the caliper squeezes the pads inwards. That causes the pads to press against the rotor and create enough heat and friction to either slow down the rotor or bring it to a complete stop. When the rotor stops moving, the wheel it’s attached to stops moving, as well.

How Often Does a Ford Brake Pad Need to be Replaced?

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Image Credit: ChrisFix

As a general rule of thumb, brake pads usually last about 50,000 miles. However, they may last shorter or longer, depending on a few factors:

  • Your driving habits
  • Whether you primarily drive in stop-and-go traffic or on the highway, which doesn’t require as much braking
  • The type of brake pads you use (OEM brake pads last longer than aftermarket brake pads)

The best way to tell when your brake pads are worn is to check the thickness of the friction material. Here’s a great set of instructions on checking the brake pad thickness.

What Happens When You Don’t Replace Your Brake Pads After They Wear Down?

Worn brake pads seriously compromise your Ford’s braking performance. More specifically, there isn’t enough friction material left to stop your car quickly. That means the longer you drive with worn brake pads, the longer your car’s stopping distances get over time. That endangers yourself and others on the road.

Luckily, replacing your Ford’s brake pads is an easy and straightforward process. You can do it yourself by ordering a set of genuine OEM brake pads from us at wholesale pricing and then following this tutorial