While your brakes are almost always checked at each service, our Kashy mechanics thought it might be best to bestow a small amount of knowledge for those times when a service is outside of the budget or if you’re ever worried your brakes are worn out.
The easiest way to check the brakes is always to take the wheel off however, quite often you can get away with leaving the wheel on and peeking through the spokes. This is also a great time to check the condition and age of your tyres to make sure the most important parts of your car are going to keep you safe.
By either removing the wheel or peering between the spokes, we need to locate the face of the disc brake and the backing plate of the brake pad. This might be a good time to point out that this method doesn't work for drum brakes, though they aren’t common on anything except utes any more.
The backing plate of the pad is usually fairly easy to spot and is one of the 2 main features of the pad. After finding the backing plate and the disc surface, you need to measure (as best as possible) the distance between the backing plate and the disc surface. This gives us the amount of pad material in mm. Don't do this after driving though as the brakes will be hot.
A good rule of thumb with pad material is that it always starts around 10mm and is due for replacement under 3mm. If your pads are under 3mm, it’s probably time to replace them an either replace or machine your discs.
The final thing to note here is that on many cars (especially those with a performance aspect), the brake pads can be really difficult to see. If you need to check them and you’re unable to see them, removing the wheel is often the best way. You can follow the steps here if needed, though, we would just recommend talking to one of our Kashy mechanics as they’re often happy to help.