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The Differences Between Brake Pads and Brake Rotors

At LightHouse Automotive, brake inspections and repairs are among the most common services we perform for our customers. After all, everyone wants their brakes to be working properly!

We often get questions about the differences between the primary brake components. This article will help explain the various parts and talk about the importance of brake maintenance for your vehicle's safety and performance. 

Brake Components

Most vehicles on the road have disc brake systems. We do work on a lot of classic cars with drum brakes here at LightHouse Automotive, but we're going to keep this topic focused on disc brakes. There are four primary components to disc brakes, including the caliper, caliper support, brake pad and brake rotor.

Brake Pads vs. Brake Rotors

Brake pads are attached to the calipers, which are essentially clamps that close when you press on the brake pedal. Hydraulic lines with brake fluid inside are used to power the brakes, but that's a different story for a different day. The calipers/pads grab onto the brake rotors, which are the discs themselves. The rotors are synched with the wheels, so when the calipers grab the rotors, the car will slow down or come to a complete stop. In many ways, it's a pretty simple mechanism that works very effectively.

When to Replace Brake Pads or Rotors

Like many automotive components, the brake pads and rotors will get worn out over time and will need to be replaced. When the brake pads are low, then you'll simply want to replace them with new pads. As for rotors, sometimes they can be remachined by an expert to give them new life. In some cases, however, they are just too worn out and will need to be replaced. It's always a good idea to have your brakes inspected regularly—usually as part of a standard maintenance visit. An honest mechanic will let you know exactly when the brake pads or rotors are due for replacement.

How long your brake pads and rotors will last is dependent on a variety of different factors. First, there's the quality of the parts themselves. Cheaper brake pads typically won't last as long as more expensive (higher quality) pads. Different materials may be used or the overall quality just won't be as good with bargain brake components. Other factors that may affect brake life include your own driving habits (do you ride the brakes while you drive or come to hard stops a lot?), road conditions, weather, vehicle weight/towing loads and more.

LightHouse Automotive for Colorado Springs Brake Repair

LightHouse Automotive is here to help with all your brake service, inspection and repair needs. Whether you need to have your brake rotors remachined, your brake pads replaced, your brake lines bled or any other type of brake maintenance, our team of auto repair technicians has you covered. We'll perform a thorough brake inspection and let you know exactly what is going on, and then we'll make sure all the repairs are done right. Call LightHouse Automotive today at (719) 465-0302 or schedule your next service appointment online.


Car Care Tips
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