You hear a lot about replacing brake pads, drums, and rotors, but they’re not the only items that often need replacing. Other components like adjustment springs, abutment clips, and backing shims can also wear out with time and use. Replacing brake hardware is crucial if you want your brakes to work with the reliable performance you’ve come to expect.
Why Replace Brake Hardware?
Just like your pads and rotors, brake hardware is subjected to the same physical and environmental stresses – heat, moisture, and corrosion. Over time, these stresses can cause your brake hardware to wear out or corrode, which could cause a wide variety of problems.
Take brake pad backing shims, for instance. These shims help reduce noise, vibration and heat. These come pre-installed on some brake pads while others actually integrate these into the pad itself. On most standard and economy pads, however, expect to see these mounted separately on the back of the pads.
Corroded or worn-out brake pad shims can lead to excessive vibration as well as uneven wear. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for owners and even experienced mechanics to replace brake pads and rotors without also replacing the shims.
On cars with brake drums, worn-out return springs can stretch or even break entirely, causing the brake shoes to drag on the drum and create excess friction while creating more wear and tear. Adjuster springs and self-adjustment mechanisms that help compensate for lining wear can also wear out and cause additional wear.
Uneven wear isn’t the only problem worn-out brake hardware can cause. Issues like poor pedal feel and brake fade can be attributed to worn hardware. While corrosion is easy to spot, heat-induced metal fatigue is often invisible to the naked eye. Even if your brake hardware looks pristine, the hardware itself could be severely weakened after countless miles of exposure to high temperatures.
Prevention is Cheap
If you’re still wondering why you should always replace your brake hardware when replacing pads and rotors, it all comes down to one word – prevention.
Spending a few bucks on new brake hardware now will help you avoid hundreds or even thousands of dollars spent on brake repairs, not to mention the time spent without your car. New hardware will also help avoid other problems, including warped rotors and brake-induced pulling to one side.
Premium brake pads often come with new hardware, but standard and economy pads often leave these items out to lower costs. Fortunately, you can pick up a brake hardware kit from your local auto parts retailer for a reasonable price. Paying $10 for a kit is a cheap way to ensure your brakes work as they should.