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Car Brakes, Brake Parts, Rotors, Pads & More – Stop at BuyAutoParts.com for Superior Selection and Value
Your car’s brake system – rotors & pads, calipers & cylinders and other components – needs to work properly to ensure overall safety. When just one of those brake parts goes bad, your ability to slow down and stop is jeopardized.
Changing brake pads, rotors and other parts is fairly simple, once you’ve done it a few times. Even a casual car enthusiast can put new pads & rotors on, assuming they’ve got the right tools (and time) to get the job done. After oil changes, brake pad & rotor replacements are one of the most popular do-it-yourself projects for car owners. With mechanic labor rates increasing every year, the DIY option for changing brake rotors and pads offers money-saving benefits – especially when you purchase your brake parts at BuyAutoParts.com – and also the satisfaction of doing the job yourself!
BuyAutoParts.com has a great selection of brake parts for your car. You can browse our assortment of rotors, pads, cylinders, anti-lock braking system modules (ABS modules) and other parts based on your vehicle’s year, make and model.
To give you a better understanding of car brakes, let’s look at some key aspects of your brake system, including different parts, how they work together, certain safety mechanisms and other information that will help you decide which particular car brake parts you need.
Brake Pads and Rotors – The Front-Facing, Friction-Generating Part of Your Car’s Braking System
When most people think about a car’s brake system, the first two parts that come to mind are the brake pads and rotors. They’re also the most commonly replaced brake parts, partly because they’re responsible for generating the tremendous amount of friction and force that actually stop your vehicle when you press the brake pedal. Unlike other critical brake parts – such as the master brake cylinder, brake lines and calipers – your rotors and pads are subject to more “wear and tear” than other areas within the brake system.
To stop your axle from turning, the brake pads are compressed against the rotor (on both sides of the rotor for an even stopping motion). This metal-on-metal activity can cause both the rotor and pads to wear down. Thankfully, today’s brake pads offer much better performance and durability than yesteryear’s variety.
Brake pads are primarily constructed two different ways:
- Semi-metallic pads – this more common type of brake pad consists of metal shavings bonded together by a high-strength resin. Semi-metallic pads are the most affordable and widely-used type of brake pad.
- Ceramic pads – for better performance and longer wear, ceramic pads offer a lightweight design and superior characteristics when compared with semi-metallic pads. They’re made of ceramic fiber, filler agents, and a few metals that help lessen heat buildup during normal braking.
Which brake pads are the right ones for your car? As long as you’re using the OEM part number for your car’s brake pads, you can use different materials if you choose. For instance, if your car had factory-installed semi-metallic pads, but you choose to use ceramic pads, that’s fine. As long as the pads fit like they’re supposed to, material choices are secondary. Your own driving habits, your daily commute, weather preferences – all of these factors can help determine whether or not you’d like to use semi-metallic or ceramic pads.
When your brake pads need to be replaced, there are a few telltale signs to pay attention to. A high-pitched metallic squeal probably means your brake pad “wear bar” (a small piece of metal that surfaces whenever your brake pad material degrades to a certain level) is contacting the rotor. But it’s not all about sound; note your car’s stability when braking. A slight wobble could indicate uneven wear with your brake pads, which would account for the uneven braking motion.
Both semi-metallic and ceramic brake pads are available at BuyAutoParts.com. Depending on your specific requirements, you can choose which style best fits your car. For normal everyday driving, semi-metallic pads offer the best value, without sacrificing brake quality and dependability.
The brake rotor works in tandem with the pads, and is usually made of metal – steel, cast iron and aluminum are popular material choices – although ceramic rotors are much more prevalent on high performance vehicles nowadays. Many brake rotor discs also have internal vanes to help vent the terrific heat generated during the braking process. In addition to the standard “smooth” type of brake rotors there are equipped on most cars, there are also rotor variations that offer improved braking performance. These performance oriented rotors can be drilled, slotted, or both.
A slotted brake rotor offers a significant performance boost over a smooth brake rotor. Under heavy braking, brake pad wear and outgassing causes a layer of dust and gasses to build up between the pad and the friction surface of a smooth brake rotor. Slotted brake rotors have channels or “slots” machined into their friction surface which allow for gas and brake dust to escape creating better contact between the pad and rotor. These slots also help the face of the rotor cool more evenly, reducing the likelihood of brake rotor warpage from overheating.
Like slotted brake rotors, cross-drilled brake rotors provide an escape for the gas and dust generated during braking. But the holes in the face of a cross-drilled rotor also provide a direct cooling path between the friction surface of the rotor and the internal cooling vanes, increasing surface area and lowering brake temperatures. Like slotted-rotors, cross-drilled rotors can even increase initial brake bite in wet weather by allowing water to quickly escape from between the pad and rotor face before it can affect initial braking response. In addition to their performance benefits, drilled brake rotors also look great behind wheels of your car and evoke the feeling of speed even on a parked car.
Brake rotors that are both drilled and slotted offer the best of both worlds: great initial bite in wet and dry conditions, superior cooling capacity, decreased brake fade, and fantastic looks. This makes drilled and slotted rotors the choice of many performance enthusiasts and racing teams, but they also work great on your daily driver for the exact same reasons. For the average driver who wants to feel their brakes dig in right away and stop as short as possible when the situation calls for it, there is nothing wrong with bringing a little race car technology to the street, even if you aren’t necessarily a race car driver.
A “warped” rotor is when the rotor surface has small bumps, pits and other defects that prevent the rotor’s surface from completely touching the pads on each side. Rust, excessive heat, worn pads and a host of other factors contribute to a warped rotor. Take note of minor changes when you brake – it could be the sign of a major issue you’ll have to deal with soon.
Up to the mid-1990s, it was common for cars (both domestic and foreign models) to have a different brake system for the front and rear wheels. Most automobiles in those days featured brake pads and rotors on the front axle, and something called drum brakes on the rear axle. Drum brakes worked by pushing the “brake shoes” inside the drum outward, thus generating enough force to help halt the rear wheels. But a few reasons have made drum brakes increasingly unpopular for new car designs. For one, they’re typically tougher to change than pads and rotors; the drum brake assembly has numerous springs and other small components, so it’s a bit more confusing than a traditional rotor & pads configuration.
Drum brakes have been phased out of most new cars in the American market, yet some remain. You should keep this mind if you have an older model, as the rear brake system might consist of a drum assembly.
Whatever brake system your car uses, BuyAutoParts.com has the right OEM replacement rotors and pads you need.
Calipers and Brake Cylinders – Two Behind-the-Scenes Essentials for Stopping Your Car
While your car’s brake rotors and pads are the most widely recognized elements of the braking system, you can’t forget about some other components that help your car slow down & stop.
In a conventional disc brake system (usually on your front axle, but also on your rear axle, especially for newer cars), a closed-pressure system of hydraulic brake fluid helps move the master cylinder, and this action pressurizes the brake calipers. This cylinder – caliber dynamic is what actually causes your brake pads to press up against the rotor.
The caliper is situated over the rotor like a clamp, which allows for control of the brake pads on both sides of the rotor. When the master cylinder is activated by the brake pedal, the brake fluid in turn causes the caliper piston to move, forcing the pads to “grab” the brake rotor.
One overlooked part of every brake caliper is the glide pin. Each brake caliper contains a pair of glide pins, which slide back and forth to help distribute even pressure from the caliper piston. When the glide pins become defective, one side of the rotor will receive more brake pad pressure than the opposite side, and brake efficiency will suffer. In areas with harsh climates (especially cold winter weather), excessive road slush, ice, salt and grime can compromise caliper function, especially as it relates to the glide pin. Looks can be deceiving; a seemingly well-working caliper could have defective glide pins inside, thus preventing solid, even pressure transfer from the pads to the rotor.
When ordering a master brake cylinder and calipers, you should have your automobile’s OEM part number for easy reference. With a wide variety of OEM-quality brake cylinders and calipers available at BuyAutoParts.com, you can order an exact replacement part, designed to perform just as well as the original factory-installed brake part.
Anti-Lock Braking Systems
To prevent your brakes from locking up from too much pressure exerted by the brake cylinder (and thus to the pads on the rotor), a safeguard exists. It’s called an ABS (anti-lock brake system). Situated between the master cylinder and the axles, the ABS keeps one wheel from receiving too much pressure. When your car’s ABS detects that one wheel is getting more pressure or turning at a slower rate than the other wheels, the ABS regulates brake fluid pressure to allow the wheel to turn momentarily. Essentially, the ABS is a pressure regulator for your entire brake system.
Before ABS systems became widely available, it was common for a car’s brake system to freeze up. Obviously, this had tremendous safety implications, so automobile manufacturers and engineers devised a simple yet effective mechanism to avoid the loss of brake power to any or all wheels.
BuyAutoParts.com has ABS modules to keep your car’s brake system safe, smooth and efficient. If your “ABS System Warning” light (or similar notification) is on, you should replace your ABS module as soon as possible.
Signs of Brake System Trouble
One bad brake part can have dire consequences for driving safety. You should be aware of certain signs & symptoms of brake system trouble. Some are obvious, while others are harder to detect. But attentive drivers can diagnose most brake problems with very little effort. If your car experiences any of the following, it is recommended to replace the necessary brake parts immediately.
- Soft brake power – the brake pedal presses to the floor with very little effort
- Scratching or squealing sounds
- Wobbly / uneven stopping
- Brake fluid dripping from bottom of car
- Grinding sound when braking
- Brake system or ABS system warning lights on control panel
- Low brake fluid level
- Obvious residue in brake fluid
- Burning smell or smoke when braking
The above conditions are just some of the warning signs of a faulty brake system. Once you’ve determined the exact cause of the problem, you should replace the defective brake parts at once. Whether it’s your brake pads and rotors, brake master cylinder, anti-lock braking system, caliper or other brake part, we have the exact part you need to get your car back on the road as soon as possible.
We also have other online resources to educate & empower you on everything you’d like to know about brakes. This includes a handy how-to articles and videos section on common brake part replacement and repair projects, along with a comprehensive brake parts buyer’s guide for selecting the right parts for your car!
BuyAutoParts.com has the selection, support and super-low prices to help with your next brake job, whether you’re replacing the rotors and pads, cylinder, calipers and more. We have OEM-quality brake parts that perform like the original factory-installed components.
Check out our assortment of brake parts today. If you have any questions with a recent order or need assistance, you can chat with one of our parts specialists or give us a call at (888) 907-7225.
Automotive Brake Parts Resources
Everything You Need to Know about Brake Maintenance
This informative article by the BuyAutoParts.com team breaks down everything you need to know about the brake system and how to maintain it. Keeping your brakes strong doesn’t all have to do with maintenance, be aware of the way you drive.
Five Signs You Need New Brakes
Brakes are an essential part of driving safely, yet they are commonly ignored for far too long when they need to be replaced. Many times, the driver is not purposely ignoring their brakes they just have no idea it is their brakes they need to get replaced. Read this article to learn the top five signs people need new brakes.
How to Change the Front Brakes on a 2004 Mistubishi Lancer
One of our BuyAutoParts.com pros recently replaced the brake pads and rotors on his 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer. We know not all of you own a 2004 Lancer, but this job is very similar from vehicle to vehicle and can help people who like to follow step-by-step guides.
What Can Be Done About Squealing Brakes?
Squealing brakes can be incredibly annoying, yet many times a squealing noise is not caused by brakes and even if it is, it doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be replaced. Read this article to find out more about squealing brakes.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Buy Brakes
We sell brake parts for all types of vehicles and we know it is not always easy to buy brakes online for your vehicle. Our buyer’s guide is meant to help you have an easy time buying brakes, plus it includes information about your brakes and their function.
How Long Do Brake Pads Last?
How long should your brake pads last? In this article we discuss how you can estimate the life of your brake pads based on driving patterns and the quality of the pads in your vehicle. We also provide some recommendations for extending the life of your brake pads.
Avoid Brake Failure with Brake Repair & Maintenance
Did you know that an NTSB report recently found that about 25% of automobile accidents were caused by brakes failing or degrading? This article will you avoid that dreaded brake failure that commonly haunts drivers.
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