Brake Pads vs Rotors

Brake Repair

Routine maintenance can keep your car running smoothly and safely for a long time. Every part needs it from time to time, including your brakes. The brake system is critical to keeping you safe during your drive. How does it work?

Ira Toyota of Tewksbury put together this brake pads vs. rotors review to help drivers in Lowell and Dracut learn more about their brakes and stay on top of their maintenance.

Break Pads Rotors
Brake pads are what constantly connect and squeeze the brake rotors to reduce the speed of your vehicle. Brake rotors (or brake discs) are the large, flat circle discs that can be seen when changing a tire.
They can be made from a variety of materials, including organic, semi-metallic, and ceramic. They’re normally made from steel and iron.

What Are Brake Pads?

Brake Pads

Brake pads make direct contact with the parts on your axle that are in motion. They’re designed to create the friction that slows your car down. The amount of pressure they’re applied with is directly connected to how much force you apply to the brake pedal.

When you put your foot on the brake pedal, it takes the pressure you apply and transfers it to the master cylinder. Then brake fluid is pushed through the brake lines and out to the wheels with that same force and pressure.

At the end of the brake lines there’s a caliper, which hovers a few inches above the wheels. A pair of brake pads is attached to the inside of these calipers. Together, they clamp down and use friction to slow your vehicle.

Brake pads are able to create the necessary friction needed to stop your car because they’re made of a mix of organic materials and either ceramic or metal.

Since stopping a moving vehicle is no easy feat, brake pads do wear down eventually. Luckily, most of them are designed to let you know when they need to be replaced.

There’s a built-in indicator on most brake pads that’s exposed once they’ve worn down. This indicator is about the size of a small screw and presses against the wheels to create that well known squeaking brake sound. Think of squeaky brakes as a helpful maintenance reminder.

What Are Brake Rotors?


So, which part of the wheels do the brake pads press up against? That would be the rotors. While they are part of your brake system, your rotors are actually attached to the front and rear axles and move with the wheels.

They’re a metal circle that’s either solid or has a series of small holes in it to prevent them from overheating. Usually larger vehicles like trucks have ventilated rotors. Their circular shape is where the term disc brakes comes from.

Since they’re the part that force and friction are being applied to, they don’t wear down like brake pads. They will get a visual inspection during maintenance visits though because on rare occasions a rotor can crack.

Both you and a technician can easily spot a cracked rotor, but you’ll also be able to hear it while you’re driving. Stopping with a cracked rotor causes a distinct metal grinding sound.

Brake Service & Repairs

At Ira Toyota of Tewksbury we have a staff of trained technicians in our service center to help drivers in Lowell and Dracut with any brake maintenance, service, and repairs.

If you notice any of these maintenance alerts, schedule service with us online. To learn more about brake pads vs. rotors and the rest of your brake system, contact us at our service center.