In simple terms, according to Jimmy Ssebadduka, a mechanic at Shell Jinja Road, brake callipers are U-shaped metals onto which brake pads are attached to rub against the brake disc to stop or control a car in motion. Brake callipers are positioned on top of brake pads and brake discs.

Brake callipers, brake pads, brake discs and brake drums are the most important parts that make up the braking system of your car. However, it is important to understand that brake pads, brake discs and brake drums cannot function without brake callipers, and none of them works in isolation of the other.

“The three parts work together to control a moving car and it is advisable to service all the three at once,” Ssebadduka advises.

Brake pads
Every time he visits a garage, Moses Ocheng, a tourist car motorist, says he spends approximately Shs120,000 on replacing brake pads. However, before walking to the spare parts shop, he says he visits the garage for his brake pads to be inspected by the mechanic, who then advises him on how many pairs to buy.

He adds that this is because there are times when the front brake pads are worn out while those at the rear side are still functional since rear brake pads do not wear out as fast as those at the front.According to Ssebadduka, the tendency of replacing front brake pads and you ignore those at the rear does nothing but put your life and that of your passengers at risk. The reason front brake pads usually dissolve or wear out faster than those at the rear end is because different vehicles mostly rely on the front brake system to stop the car. This explains why raised cars will bend more to the front when a driver applies brakes instantly.

Types of brake pads
Brake pads are mostly manufactured in three types which include ceramic, metallic and semi-metallic. However, saloon and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) cars mostly use ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads depending on the manufacturer’s prescriptions. While ceramic brake pads are manufactured with asbestos as an element, semi-metallic brake pads are manufactured more with a metal or steel element.

Metallic brake pads are manufactured mostly with metals and these are the kind that are used in trucks or trailers.
Musa Kimera, a car brake technician, says the type of brake pads used depends on your nature of driving.

“If you apply brakes harshly or instantly mostly when approaching humps and potholes, especially in raised cars, you have to use ceramic brake pads because they have the ability to contain and absorb braking heat and temperatures,” Kimera advises, adding that you have to be ready to spend more because harsh braking wears out brake pads within a short time.
One of the service or maintenance measures of brake pads is that if you want them to serve you longer, desist from harsh driving. You should also ensure that your brake disc is not rough.

Brake discs or brake rotors
Unlike brake pads, brake discs are purely metal. Kimera observes that the durability of your brake disc is entirely dependent on your braking technic. If you are fond of braking harshly, the lifespan of your brake disc is shortened. However, he notes, the quality of brake pads determines how long your brake discs serve you.

How brake discs get damaged
Every time you step on brakes, the thickness of the brake disc reduces, especially if you drive on semi-metallic brake pads that are or were manufactured with a steel or metal component. So, as the brake discs rotate, if the brake pads are damaged, they will cause dents on the brake disc, thereby subjecting it to wear and tear.

Also, when you park a car for a while, the brake disc, since its metallic, absorbs water that subjects it to rust. When you eventually drive the car, the rust will weaken the brake disc and brake pads.

“As you drive, the rust becomes resistant to the brake pads until your car fails to stop. It means the brake pads and the brake discs can no longer work harmoniously to control the car,” Kimera explains, concluding that your brake system will stabilise only if you replace the brake pads and have your brake disc resurfaced.

Service for brake discs
Musa Kimera, a car brake technician, says the recommended kind of service and maintenance for brake discs is brake disc resurfacing. Resurfacing is where a mechanic places your brake discs on a rotating machine to reshape and give them a new flat surface and texture. This is done to eliminate dents that are usually caused by brake pads.

How often are brakes inspected?
A yearly checkup will not only give you the confidence and guidance of expert technicians, it will also provide you with the best opportunity to spot the necessary smaller repairs to avoid the bigger and more expensive ones. If you are experiencing any warning symptoms, then a more immediate inspection may be required.