National average cost of a a Brake Pad Wear Sensor Replacement for popular vehicles:
What is a brake pad wear sensor and how does it work?
There was a day when the only way to know if your brake pads were wearing out was either to remove the wheels and tires and inspect the system or to wait until you heard a telltale squealing noise coming from the brakes when you pressed the pedal. Actually, some vehicle makes and models still feature those old-school brake pad “wear indicators”, tiny metal mechanisms attached to the brake pads that make contact with the rotor (and squeal) when the brake pads are nearing the end of their lives. Today, however, many late-model vehicles are equipped with electronic sensors attached to (or part of) the brake pads. These modern brake pad wear sensors inform the vehicle’s computer that the pads are low and need to be replaced.
What are the signs that a brake pad wear sensor needs to be replaced?
A brake pad wear sensor is typically a one-time-use component. Once the brake pads wear thin enough that the attached electrode contacts the brake rotor, it breaks and causes a change in resistance that tells the computer that the pads need to be changed. Therefore, if the brake service indicator lights up on your dashboard, it is time to replace the sensors along with the brake pads.
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How is a a Brake Pad Wear Sensor Replacement done?
Replacement of a brake pad wear sensor is typically done at the same time your brake pads are changed. In order to perform the service, a mechanic will first need to safely lift and support your vehicle off of the ground and remove the wheels and tires for access to the brakes. From there, the procedure depends to some extent on whether the sensor is part of the brake pads or a stand-alone component. In general, the mechanic will take the following steps:
Remove the brake caliper pins to split the caliper from its bracket to expose the brake pads
Trace the sensor wire to the location of its harness plug
Disconnect the plug from the vehicle wiring harness
In some cases, detach the sensor from the brake pads
Remove and replace the brake pads
Re-route the sensor wire carefully and reconnect to the harness
Connect the sensor to the brake pads (if necessary)
Complete the balance of the brake service, including caliper service and rotor replacement or resurfacing
Other questions customers ask
Are brake pad wear sensors necessary?
Whether you are talking about old-school mechanical brake pad wear indicators that let out a squeal every time you press the brake pedal or the modern electronic sensors that trigger the brake service light on your dash, wear sensors are a helpful tool to tell you that it is time to replace your worn out brake pads. Do you need them? If you have no indication that the pads are worn out, the next indication will be a scraping or grinding noise alerting you to significant brake system damage and a loss of braking ability.
Can brake pad wear sensors be reused?
No. Brake pad wear sensors are one-time-use devices. They work by maintaining an electrical circuit until the attached electrode comes in contact with the brake rotor, effectively breaking the circuit and alerting the computer to turn on the brake service light. Like a fuse, once the circuit has been broken inside the sensor, it needs to be replaced.
How long can you drive after a brake pad warning light comes on?
There is no fixed time or distance for driving once you see the brake service warning light come on. A number of factors play into the lifespan of your brake pads, including the vehicle make and model, driving conditions, and your driving habits. The composition of your brake pads, whether they are organic, ceramic, or semi-metallic, also makes a difference. You might be able to drive for up to a thousand miles, but it is wise to schedule service as soon as possible.
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What parts are related to a Brake Pad Wear Sensor Replacement?
What are some other common services related to a Brake Pad Wear Sensor Replacement?
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