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The Real Cost of Cheap Brake Pads

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When you look at brake pads these days, corners are being cut and products are being generalized to a highly diverse market. In this Tire Review Continental Tire Garage Studio video, we’ll tell you how to spot poor-quality brakes and what you can do about it.

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When we talk about brake pads, the “good enough” mentality means stopping a “reasonable” distance at normal driving speeds that last for 10,000 miles. But, when performing an emergency stop or a series of hard stops, the vehicle can become unsafe with longer stops and a low pedal when cheap brake pads are used. You may rationalize that the customer may never perform these more severe braking maneuvers, but you can never be sure what kind of conditions a vehicle will be driven under.

So, what standards should you have when selecting replacement brake pads? Try them for yourself. Set aside some time to test the brands of brake pads you install. Perform at least four emergency stops from 55 mph to a dead stop back to back. A series of hard stops will simulate the punishment a pad might have on a major metropolitan freeway during extreme stop-and-go traffic.

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You can detect cheap brake pads because they will start to fade and pedal travel will be almost to the floor. Also, cheap brake pads will start to smell worse than the average burnt clutch. Some cheap brake pads may have a very pungent aroma due to the use of cheap glues and fillers.

After performing a test, remove the pads and inspect the friction surface for glazing and delamination from the backing plate. Also, look at the coatings or paint on the brake pads. Often, the best-looking brake pad will not look the same after four stops from 55 mph. A high-quality brake pad will have a coating or plating on the backing plate that will stand up to the heat of four hard stops with little change in appearance.

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Identifying cheap brake pads can mean the difference between getting in an accident or not. The best way to do so is to investigate and test brake pads to understand the quality.

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