What Causes Uneven Brake Pad Wear – How to Fix the Problem?

brake pads wearing out unevenly

Imagine you’ve just had your brake pads replaced a few months back and are feeling pretty good about it.

You take your car for a test drive, and everything seems to be going well until you get to a stop sign.

You apply the brakes, but one wheel seems to be dragging. You quickly realize that one of your new brake pads is already wearing down!

Wondering – what could have caused this?

In this post, I’ll explore some common causes of uneven brake pad wear and how to fix them. So, read on for more info!

Reasons for Brakes Wearing Unevenly

In general, front brake pads wear out sooner than rear brake pads because they do most of the work when stopping the vehicle.

It’s recommended to have your brakes checked at least once a year, or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. This way, you can prevent brake problems early.

Just in case you think that your new truck’s brake pads are wearing out abnormally or unevenly, there can be several reasons for this situation. The most common ones include the following:

1. Incorrect Installation

If your brake pads are not installed correctly, they can rub against the rotors in an uneven way, causing one side to wear down faster than the other.

If you think the problem is caused due to incorrect installation, simply have a professional mechanic check your brakes and make sure that the pads are installed correctly.

It’s also important to use the same type of brake pads on both sides of your vehicle. Do not utilize brake pads from different manufacturers or materials since they will wear down at varying rates and have varying lifespans.

2. Faulty Wheel Bearings

Wheel bearings not working properly can cause the wheels to wobble slightly when you brake, which in turn will cause the brake pads to wear.

If you have a squeaking or grinding sound when your car comes to a stop, it’s time to get your wheel bearings replaced by an expert mechanic.

3. Uneven Tire Pressure

If your tires are not inflated to the proper pressure, they can also cause the vehicle to pull to one side when you brake, which will eventually cause the pads on that side to wear down faster.

To fix this problem, check tire pressure and inflate the tires to the proper levels on a regular basis.

4. Worn Suspension Components

Shocks or struts that are worn out can also cause the vehicle to lean to one side when you brake, causing the pads on that side.

To prevent the issue, have a professional mechanic inspect the suspensions and replace them if necessary.

5. Rotor Thickness Variation

This can be another common cause of uneven brake pad wear (either left or right).

Ideally, your brake pads are supposed to be in contact with the rotors. When it comes to rear rotors, however, you’ll really want to bring everything together.

In such circumstances, any little pressure on the brake pedal causes the vehicle to come to a stop instantly and without any dead spots.

And, if your rotors are not all the same thickness, they can cause the pads to wear down unevenly.

Besides all the above, these may be the reasons causing one side or brakes to wear down faster than the other.

  • Misaligned Brakes
  • Sticky Caliper Pistons
  • Warped, Dirty, or Rusty Rotors

How Thick are New Brake Pads?

The thickness of new brake pads can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle, but they are typically between 10 and 15 millimeters thick.

IMO, the minimum thickness of your new front brake pads should be around 12 mm. Anything less than that is not safe.

The size of rear brake pads and rotors can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle, but they are typically smaller than front brake pads.

How to Tell if it’s Time to Replace Braking Pads?

The amount of time that a brake pad will last will vary depending on driving habits and conditions. In general, though, most brake pads will need to be replaced every 30,000 miles or so.

When brake pads begin to wear out, they will often make a squealing noise when the brakes are applied.

This is because there is less friction material between the pad and the rotor, so the pads vibrate when they press against the rotors.

If you hear this squealing noise or any other such symptoms or signs of brake pads going bad, it’s time to have your brake pads checked and possibly replaced.

If you don’t replace your brake pads in a timely manner, they will eventually wear down to the metal backing plate.

At this point, the brakes will begin to grind and may even fail completely, which could be very dangerous.

brake pads worn out from one side

Can You Replace Just One Set of Brake Pads?

It is generally not recommended to replace just one set of brake pads. This can cause uneven wear and may lead to premature failure of the other set of pads.

It is best to replace both sets of pads at the same time to ensure even wear and long-lasting performance.

If you wonder what to do with old rotors and brake pads, most auto parts stores, and salvage yards will accept old rotors and brake pads for recycling.

So, check with your local store or salvage yard to see if they have specific requirements for recycling these items.

Factors that Influence the Brake Pad Life in Your Truck

Brake pads work by pressing against the brake rotors to create friction. This friction works to slow down the rotating wheels and eventually brings the car to a stop.

With time, the brake pads on your truck will wear out from use, and you will need to get a replacement.

It’s no secret that the life of your brake pads is influenced by a variety of factors. Here are a few that you need to keep an eye at:

1. Your Driving Style

If you’re an aggressive driver who frequently slams on the brakes, you can expect your brake pads to wear out more quickly than those of a more laid-back driver.

2. The Quality of Your Brake Pads

There’s a big difference in quality between budget and premium brake pads. Not surprisingly, the latter tend to last longer.

3. The Type of Driving You Do

If you do a lot of stop-and-go city driving, your brake pads will wear down faster than if you mostly stick to highways.

That’s because braking frequently causes greater wear and tear on the pads.

4. The Condition of Your Brakes

Well-maintained brakes will last longer than those that are neglected. So, be sure to have your brakes checked regularly by a qualified mechanic to ensure they’re in good working order.

Summing up

Brake pads will wear out from use and will need to be replaced when they show signs of going bad.

But if your truck’s brake pads are unevenly wearing out on one side, there can be possible causes to explore.

Have a professional mechanic check for these issues and fix them as soon as possible. Doing so will help extend the life of your brakes and keep you safe on the road. 

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