Audi Brakes and Brake Pad Service | Audi St Paul

Audi Brakes and Brake Pad Services and Replacements

If you're like the average driver, putting about 15,000 miles a year on your vehicle, you'll step on the brakes about 75,000 times over the course of that year. Every time you apply the brakes, even lightly, it's scraping a bit of friction material off of the brake pads. Because brake pads wear so slowly, though, it can be hard to be sure when it's really time to change them due to excessive wear. 

Brake Inspections

Anytime the wheels are off your vehicle (such as for a tire rotation), it's a good idea to inspect the brake pads for wear. Often you won't notice an excessive amount of brake pedal travel when the pads are excessively worn, although you might notice longer stopping distances. That's why inspections are important, taking the guesswork out of brake maintenance. You can even get a pretty good look at the pads yourself, if you have wheels that allow a view of the calipers and rotors. Friction material that's worn ¼" thick or less means the pads definitely should be replaced soon. 

Types of Brake Pad Material 

  • Semimetallic brake pads are among the most common and cheapest pads on the market. Composed of wire, copper, steel wool, binders and other materials, the compound of friction material in semimetallic pads is durable but can be hard on the surfaces of brake rotors. Semimetallic pads also may not perform well in extreme cold. 
  • Non-asbestos organic (NAO) pads are comprised of rubber, Kevlar, glass fibers and other materials. These pads are quieter, but also softer and can create a lot of brake dust. 
  • Low-metallic NAO pads differ from NAO in that they might contain copper and other metals for longer wear and better heat transfer. The downside is that they can be noisier and still generate a great deal of brake dust. 
  • Ceramic brake pads are a high-performance design, a compound of ceramic fibers, fillers and binders. Ceramic pads are extremely hard and can wear a long time, but are considerably more expensive. 

Brake Fluid

It's easy to forget brake fluid in a maintenance schedule, but brake fluid can become contaminated over time. It's also hygroscopic, meaning that it attracts and can support water, and that water can be "boiled off" during hard braking, leading to brake fade. If you can run the tip of a screwdriver along the bottom of the fluid reservoir in your master cylinder and it comes back with any gunk on it, it's time for a brake fluid exchange. Brake fluid exchanges (with manufacturer-approved fluid) can also reduce corrosion and other problems on connectors, seals and other parts of the brake system.

If you're noticing a "spongy" brake pedal, longer stopping distances, vibration or pulsation while braking, excessive noise or a tendency for the vehicle to pull to one side while braking, it's definitely time for a brake inspection. It's especially important to know that excessively-worn brakes can quickly ruin brake rotors, making a routine brake job much more expensive. Don't make this costly mistake -- come to Audi St Paul for brake service, all performed by Audi-certified techs using OEM Audi parts.

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