Blog Post

Pads, Discs and Calipers… What are they and what do they all do?

Today, one of our jobs is replacing the pads and discs on a car. Fairly standard. However, age led to the caliper failing which in turn meant that the pads didn’t release properly. This made the wear on these pads was so extensive that the pads and discs we going metal to metal!

When Joe (one of our mechanics) showed me what the bits were, I thought, “I know they’re important but I wonder how many people actually know what all these bits really do and what they look like”. Hence, blog post!

There are 3 main components to your brakes, they are your pads, discs and the calipers.

In simple terms, the caliper is like a vice. It squeezes the pads, which sit on either side (front and back) of the disc. When the pads squeeze together they put pressure on the disc which slows it turning. That is how your car brakes!


In this case, the pads wore very unevenly. You can see the pad at the bottom is maybe, 1mm thick. The other is not as worn BUT is has worn more at the top than at the bottom. This means the disc was getting damaged. One pad scraping at the top, on pad wearing the whole way around. Here is the poor disc!

The front side of the disc with lots of metal to metal wear all the way around. 
Here you can see on the rear side of the disc, a ring of wear and damage around the outside of the disc. This is because of the uneven wear of the pad.

When your discs are low, they can’t put enough pressure on the disc, meaning you get inefficient braking. When your brakes don’t work properly, you end up braking harder. This puts a strain on the caliper, and the whole braking system.

So next time your service brings back to replace the pads and discs, you know why… and how important they are!

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