Front brake pad replacement
How do front brake pads work?
Brake pads are a key component of any vehicle’s braking system. They’re flat parts made of semi-metallic, organic or ceramic materials, with a metal backing. When you use your brakes, the pads hydraulically squeeze the brake discs, slowing your car down through friction and pressure. The pads absorb some of the biggest forces involved in daily driving.
Most cars have two pads per brake disc, although some high-performance models can have more.
How often should front brake pads need replacing?
As a rough guide, your brake pads should last for 50,000 miles, but there are a number of variables, including driver behaviour, the weight you carry, speed and the type of pads used. Not to mention that nearly 20% of MOT failures are caused by faulty brakes.
The law, vehicle regulations and your MOT
Incorrect brake operation, damaged or excessively worn discs or pads are considered unsafe for your vehicle performance and will cause your car to fail an MOT.
The cost of replacing front brake pads
The typical cost of replacing front brake pads is around £100.
For example, a BMW 116d M Sport would have a dealer price of £133.13, yet Fixter will carry out the same work for only £107.10—a 20% saving!
Changing the rear brake pads on a Fiat 500 C Lounge will cost you £120.59 with your dealer, but only £99.17 with Fixter—a superb saving of 18%!
When you choose Fixter to find you a great deal and a premium mechanic to carry out your rear brake pad replacement, you can expect to save around £20–£25 from an average dealer price. That’s a typical saving in the region of 15–20%.
What causes your brake pads to stop working correctly?
While your brake pads will keep you safe over thousands of miles, they won’t last forever. Eventually, the abrasive surface on them wears down, and they will need to be replaced, ideally while you still have around 25% capacity of the pads left.
Given that they take most of the load, front brake pads will probably need replacing first. They also have a bigger surface area to increase friction.
To make your brake pads last longer:
- Try avoiding driving at high speeds so that you’re less likely to need to brake quickly and heavily, which puts extra pressure on the pads.
- Anticipate traffic and hazards ahead so you can brake steadily and gradually.
- Heavy loads also put stress on brake pads – don’t carry unnecessary weight.
Symptoms of malfunctioning brakes
Your brake callipers make unusual noises
A loud screeching or grinding noise when you apply the brakes is a clear indicator that new pads are required.
When your car pulls to one side under braking
If only one brake is working correctly, it can cause your car to pull in the direction of the functioning brake.
The car vibrates under braking
Your brake pads could be warped if the pedal vibrates when you press down on it.
The brake pad is worn down
Look through the wheel’s spokes for a visual check—the outside pad is pressed against a metal rotor, and you should be able to see at least 3mm of the pad.
Your brake warning light on the dashboard is illuminated
If any of your dashboard warning lights are illuminated, the sensor that detects problems or worn out parts and components has detected an issue and activated the system.
Smart is a German automotive brand, established 25 years ago in 1994.
The company is a division of the automotive corporation Daimler AG and operated under the ownership of Mercedes-Benz.
How popular is Smart in the United Kingdom?
Smart isnt’ the most popular brand in the UK, most likely due to appealing primarily to parking-challenged city-dwellers; there are only 96k of their vehicles on the roads of the UK today.
Showing steady growth, however, since their introduction to the UK market in 2003, the trend would suggest that we’re likely to see more of these eccentric looking tiny cars as time goes by.
Smart: Quirky little microcars and subcompacts
Owned by Mercedes-Benz, Smart cars fit into the market you’d expect on first glance. They’re a fun and funky little city car; they’re solid, middle of the road machines, designed to be as versatile as they look.
A Smart car will never fool anyone that it’s a hi-end, luxury vehicle. There’s plenty of glossy plastic and groovy fabrics, yet in the cockpit, you’ll find up-to-the-minute touchscreen media options at the controls. They do come at an inflated price for the small city car market, but by nature of their unique design—there’s nothing quite like them.
Smart cars are cheap to run—but not so cheap to buy
Your Smart ForFour will be more expensive by comparison than its rivals: the Fiat 500, Skoda Citigo, Kia Picanto or Hyundai i10—yet it’s rather hard to pitch the Fortwo against anything because there isn’t anything on the market quite so small. Only the Renault Twizy comes to mind, and that’s barely a car at all.
Once you’ve got one though, your Smart car will cost next to nothing to run with their tiny wheels and low weight. The electric models perform even better with a fuel equivalent of 87mpg.
Smart’s reliability and reputation
Smart didn’t feature as one of the brands in the What Car? Reliability Survey in 2018 that we’ve been using to draw comparisons of reliability against other marques—but checking the user reviews gathered by the AA it would appear that most owners have very few problems and that their reliability scores are generally high.
Recent Smart recalls and reliability issues
Various recalls have been made on Smart models throughout their motoring history. The following are a list of the most recent in the UK and Europe.
14/10/2017 – Smart ForTwo, Smart ForFour (2017)
The strength of the left front steering knuckle may be insufficient
29/09/2017 – Smart ForTwo, Smart ForFour (2014–2015)
As a result of the weakening of the braking rope wrench adjustment knob, the hand brake lever travel could be prolonged gradually
24/06/2016 – Smart ForFour (2014–2015)
The anchorage for the rear seat backrest may not be sufficiently resistant
10/06/2016 – Smart ForTwo (2014–2015)
At high vehicle speed, combined with strong wind, the plastic front service hatch can detach from the vehicle and fall into traffic
05/06/2015 – Smart ForTwo (2014)
The steering mechanism screws used for some vehicles may break
All recall information sourced from gov.co.uk data.