This post discusses the following information regarding VW brake pads:
- How do you know if your VW brake pads need to be replaced?
- Tips on how to ensure successful VW brake replacement.
- Tips on how to prevent VW brake pad squealing.
How Do You Know If Your VW Brake Pads Need To Be Replaced?
Depending on your model, most front VW brake pads have wear sensors that are either built right into the brake pad material or are separate. These sensors may be on one side of the vehicle or both. If you see the VW brake warning light illuminated on your dash board instrument cluster, brake repair service is imminent. You have roughly 1,000 - 3,000 miles left on your front pads and VW brake rotors. It’s smart not to put brake service off. Once you see the light pop on, we recommend getting to the service shop within a week.
Typically, the front brake pads and rotors will wear out more quickly than the rear and need to be replaced more often. When it comes to rear VW brake pads, they typically will wear out more often on heavier models such as wagons or SUV over the standard sedan models. This is because the wagon and SUV models have more rear brake bias adjustment due to the extra weight. Most models manufactured before 2010, didn't include wear sensors on the rear VW brake pads, thus won't cause the brake pad warning light to come on. However, depending on your model, there may be a wear sensor on at least one side and/or both of the rear brake pads.
Same Whether it’s the front or the rear, the main indication of worn VW brakes is a grinding metal-on-metal sound coming from the wheel well area every time you depress the brake pedal. When the VW brake pad material has been fully exhausted, contact with the brake rotor causes a grinding sound. You should seek a VW brake repair service immediately when you hear this grinding noise. Depending on drive style and other factors, these symptoms typically occur when there is 40,000 to 80,000 miles on your brake pads and rotors.
Tips on How To Ensure Correct VW Brake Pad Replacement
Are you experiencing pulsing through the brake petal when applying the brakes? Or a shuttering vibration through the car when braking? Brake replacement is often conveyed as a simple service. Some chain "we-fix-everything-for-less" repair shops focus on turn around – rather than the quality of a brake job. Just slap on a new pair of rotors and pads? Not necessarily. Assuming that your brake issues are as simple as warped rotors could end up costing you more money in the long run. Why?
Proper VW Brake System INSPECTION
Road conditions, age, and resulting rust and pitting affect a lot more than just the rotors and pads. Brake rotors and pads are just two parts of a comprehensive braking system. The braking system's main components include: Brake rotors, brake pads, brake hoses, calipers, caliper carrier brackets, caliper guide pins and boots, brake pad retaining clips, hoses, wheel hubs, brake fluid, brake master cylinder, etc. Spending the extra time and money to properly inspect and diagnose the root cause of brake problems before diving into repair is imperative. Some owners just throw a new pair of rotors and pads on, only to have their symptoms return shortly thereafter. Make sure you choose a reputable ASE certified mechanic that is familiar with your particular VW or VW model.
Before investing in brake repair be sure to properly inspect all brake components, in particular the following:
- Caliper piston, which is located under the caliper piston boot. Look for any pitting or rust. If you note any pitting or rust behind the boot, the caliper should be rebuilt or replaced.
- Check the brake hoses for any signs of age or splitting.
- Confirm the integrity of your brake fluid, it's color and age.
- Confirm brake master cylinder functions. Example: Use an infrared heat gauge to look at the temperature of each rotor after a test drive. A temperature difference often points to an underlying issue on a particular side that may require a more detailed inspection.
Common premature brake issues after brake pad and rotor replacement are usually caused because one of the following areas were not properly cleaned. Be sure that they are free of all debris, rust, grooves, pitting, sharp edges, and are just like new:
- Wheel hub [IMAGE 1]. If the rusting and pitting is horrible the hub should be replaced. If it isn't replaced, the new brake rotors won't ride 100% true. Use a brake hub and rotor True Gauge Tool to confirm correct brake rotor alignment.
- Brake pad to caliper mating surfaces, the caliper piston, and outside of caliper [IMAGE 2, IMAGE 3]. This allows the new pad to ride true to the caliper piston.
- Brake caliper pins [IMAGE 4].
- Brake pad to carrier bracket mounting points / contact points, where the pad slides on carrier bracket [IMAGE 5, IMAGE 6]. Usually a medium grit scotch brite pad is sufficient to achieve smooth surfaces. If pitting is really bad a minor file might be needed.
PICTURED EXAMPLE: 1 previous owner 1997 VW A4 with approximately 100,000 miles on it. Service records indicated this was the 2nd brake service performed since date of sale. Note the debris, rust, grooves, pitting, sharp edges. It's important to take the time to properly clean all contact areas and make them just like new.
VW wheel hub [Above IMAGE 1]. If the rusting and pitting is horrible the hub should be replaced. If it isn't replaced, the new VW brake rotors won't ride 100% true. Use a brake hub and rotor True Gauge Tool to confirm correct VW brake rotor alignment.
IMAGE 2 & 3
VW brake pad to caliper mating surfaces, the caliper piston, and outside of caliper [Above IMAGE 2 and IMAGE 3]. This allows the new pad to ride true to the VW caliper piston.
VW brake caliper pins [Above IMAGE 4].
IMAGE 5 & 6
VW brake pad to carrier bracket mounting points / contact points, where the pad slides on carrier bracket [Above IMAGE 5, IMAGE 6]. Usually a medium grit scotch brite pad is sufficient to achieve smooth surfaces. If pitting is really bad a minor file might be needed.
Apply light grease to the VW brake carrier contact areas to slow down rusting. Lightly apply anti seize to the clean hub to slow down rusting. Lightly grease the VW caliper carrier pins [Above IMAGE 7].
How To Prevent VW Brake Pad Squealing
In addition to following the tips outlined above, it's important that new VW brake pads be bedded in carefully. When new brakes are installed, you need to go easy for the first 150-200 miles. Some customers were perplexed after installing a new set of VW brake pads and rotors because they were experiencing squealing. They have commented that their brake pedal "just doesn't feel quite right." What's causing this?
Typically, most replacement brake rotors after being manufactured are stored and shipped with an oil or cosmoline applied to the brake rotor face. This is done to prevent rust during storage and transport. Often, when it comes time to install the brake rotor, the rushed mechanic doesn't take the time to remove this residue believing it will "burn off" right after you apply the brake pedal a few times. It is important to understand that if oily residue is left on the brake rotor face you will potentially ruin your new VW brake pads and rotors. Why? Because the oil residue will embed itself on the new VW brake pads and become "glazed." This causes them to "slip" instead of "bite" into the new brake rotor face. The glazed brake rotor or brake pads generate more heat when slipping and do not allow for the proper brake rotor and brake pad break-in conditions to take place. This condition will, as well, cause the brakes to feel weak when you push on the pedal.
New VW brake pads shouldn't be used with old brake rotors (visa versa). Why? The surface area of a new VW brake pad must come in contact with a flat/smooth rotor, free from imperfections. The face of an old brake rotor is imperfect and has a glazed and scored surface instead of a flat/smooth surface. Using old brake rotors with imperfections will not allow the new VW brake pads to be bedded in properly. This will result in weak braking performance and VW brake pad squealing. Therefore, always install new brake rotors when installing new VW brake pads. That is why Blauparts offers VW brake pads with rotors in one convenient kit to ensure successful brake repair.
During braking, kinetic energy is converted into heat. If you brake too hard during the 'running-in-period', the front VW brake pads heat up too much. The uncured bonding agents emerge at the surface where they cause considerable hardening to the front VW brake pads. A single panic stop creates friction resulting in scorching temperatures approaching 1,000°. Be sure to choose high quality brake pads.
About BLAU® SS Brake Pads
Blauparts own service facility has successfully performed VW brake pad repair since 1989 and we can't afford to cut corners when replacing front VW brake pads. You don't want your front VW brake pads to cause you problems because of poor quality. We've critically evaluated numerous brands of front VW brake pads, varying in price and quality, with many disappointing results. You don't have to experiment to find the best setup. We feel that we have the best value for the demanding VW owner. We carry VW brake pads for nearly every VW model. Take advantage of our cost effective VW brake pads and brake kits. In some cases, you'll save up to 60% over retail prices by replacing your VW brake pads from Blauparts.
- Improved Stopping Power
- Low Dust
- No Squealing or Braking Noise
- Track Tested and Great for the Street
- Patented Hybrix® Compound Friction Material
- Premium Quality Made In Italy - ECE-R-90 approved
- High Temp Powder Coating - Makes the view through your alloy wheels pleasant for a long time.
- Metal Shim Backing Plate - Reduces vibration and noise, prevents squealing and warping during high temperature operation (Included if genuine design).
- Chamfering - Eliminates vibration and improves the proper bedding of the brake pad into the brake rotor face (Included if genuine design).
- Proprietary Under Layer Material - Absorbs heat, and transfers it away from the friction material resulting in less brake fade during aggressive driving conditions.
- Quick Bedding-In - With our patented Hybrix® compound friction material minimal bed-in is needed. Just install them and perform 3-4 everyday street stops and your good to go.