Should Brake Pads Be Loose In the Caliper?

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Are you confused about the fitting of your new brake pads in the caliper housing? if the old brake pads snugged so tightly that they had to be hammered out during the replacement, new brake pads which loosely in the caliper should raise some concern.

So, should brake pads be loose in the caliper? No, they should not. The pads should not be too tight to the extent of requiring the use of a hammer or similar tool to be unstuck, nor should they fit loosely. They should be the precise compatible size for the car model.

There are a lot of things to consider when carrying out a brake job, especially for someone with limited experience. You must understand the consequences of not doing the job right, particularly the risk this pose to the life of the driver and other persons on the road.

Incompetence is seen firstly in failure to identify the right size of the pad for the car model, or assuming any brake pad will get the job done, irrespective of the car model.

At retail auto shops, it is not uncommon to be handed the wrong side of the brake pad for your car model, as most of the guys that work there are interested primarily in making sales and are not necessarily car experts.

For brake pads, no size, style, or type fits all cars. Different car models require different sizes and types of brake pads. There is a great need to find out what the manufacturer’s specifications are to avoid misleading information and inappropriate installation.

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How tightly should brake pads fit in the caliper housing?

When you are done with the installation of the new brake pad, about the calipers, rotors, or brake disc, how tight or loose should the brake pad be? Is it okay to have a space of a few centimeters between the new brake pads and the caliper?

The use of the theory of expansivity of metals to support the installation of smaller-size brake pads that fits loosely in the caliper is a controversial topic and at best misleading information.

What is ideal is that the brake pad should not have to be forced under any circumstance with tools such as a hammer, nor should it slip loosely into the caliper housing leaving a space of a few centimeters above.

Should this space exist or is there a need for it? Do the cycles of heat the pad is exposed to cause it to expand and consequently become too tight and stuck in the caliper housing requiring to be hammered out?

These are questions that every car owner intending to proceed with a brake job should ask themselves especially if they intend to skip the experts and carry out the installation process themselves. Except for a brake pad smaller than the recommended size is installed, removal is unlikely to require a forceful hammering.

The of installing a brake pad size that leaves some space above the pad is that the brake performance, particularly when the brakes are pushed hard will fail to produce the expected response and may cause a serious collision accident.

Each car model does not have a single brake pad size that fits, rather, based on the manufacturer’s specification, there is usually a range of sizes and types of brake pads that can be installed on the car. Without learning about these recommendations, you could become the architect of the brake noise and poor brake performance seen with the installation of inappropriate brake size.

There is room for the installation of brake pad sizes that are longer than the old ones being replaced as long as the new pads fall within the manufacturer’s recommendation. Longer brake pads have the advantage of creating more friction which results in higher braking power.

You cannot however go ahead with the installation of longer brake pads as a result of the desire to achieve a higher braking power without considering what is right for your car model. With shorter brake pads, the area of the available surface is smaller and so is the amount of friction and braking power.

What causes the brake pads to become loose?

The general life principle of being moderate in everything is also applicable to the brake pads. It is not ideal to have brake pads that hug the calipers too tightly.

This will cause the pads to wear faster and become inefficient. Worn-out pads are associated with other unbearable signs such as the swaying of the car off the road, inefficient braking, noise, smell, and smoke amongst others.

It is equally not safe when the brake pads are loosely in the caliper housing. These two extremes are not acceptable and should be corrected. Thankfully, loose brake pads can be fixed as seen later on in this article.

One of the common reasons which sometime may be tricky to diagnose is forgetting to install shims when installing the new brake pads. Even with the ideal size of brake pad, if such pad is the type designed to work with shims, forgetting to install the shim will create the space that may cause noisy braking and ineffective hard push braking.

When the pads become worn out, they may also become loose. Although controversial, some advise car owners to break in the new brake pads before use. This involves driving the car to a traffic-free flat road, where it is driven at a uniform velocity after which the brakes are applied moderately, not too hard as to cause the tire threads to flatten out.

This practice has been discouraged greatly and sighted as one of the possible reasons for premature wearing of the brake pads. Other common causes include:

Improper installation
Installing your brake pads yourself is praiseworthy and shows how handy and independent you are. however, without the right set of tools and the needed skills, it is best to desist from attempting to do your brake job.

As for other replacements which only serve aesthetic functions, failure to do this right may only result in your car looking ugly. However, your life is at great risk if the pads are not installed properly. One of the results of improper installation is loose brake pads, noise, and corrosion.

Bad driving style
The brakes are only to be used when needed and not to be toyed with. Drivers who constantly toy with the brake and apply them unnecessarily wear down the pads and cause loose pads as a result.

Loose pads can cause corrosion of the metallic components of the brake system and corrosion can equally cause loose pads. When the brake fluid loses its anticorrosive properly, the fluid attacks the seals, metals as well as pads when it leaks out. The pads can become loose as a result.

What are the consequences of loose brake pads?

The first and least serious consequence of loose brake pads, which is often the first tail tell sign of loose brake pads is the characteristic noise that is heard each time the brakes are applied. This is different from that heard from a brand new pad which is usually transient and quietens after a few miles.

The noise is usually unsettling and can be heard by both the driver and passersby. Aside from this, the pedal by rattle against the foot can make driving an un-pleasurable experience.

Additionally, as mentioned earlier, the loose brake pads can equally be leased to corrosion and the eating up of the rubber seals and metallic brake parts.

Note that certain types of calipers known as floating brake calipers exist and are designed differently from the traditional brake calipers. They may move in a way that the traditional calipers do not. They are however not known to cause noise or corrosion and the brake pads are perfect.

How can you fix loose brake pads?

When you have a problem with extra unwanted space, the obvious solution would be to fill up the space. That is exactly how to fix the problem of loose brake pads, simply fill up the free space.

Although this sounds simple, it may however be beyond your skill set, requiring the services of a professional to ensure it is done right. In most instances, the cause is the installation of smaller size brake pads. Therefore, the solution would be to un-install the brake pad and replace it with the recommended size brake pads.

How do you prevent loose brake pads?

Prevention is cheaper, easier, and better than repair or replacement. So, how can you ensure you never find yourself experiencing loose brake pads? Well, to start with, look into the size of the brake pad and ensure it is the right size for your car model.

Make sure to only install high-quality brake pads with incredible reviews and ratings. They should be from reputable manufacturers and should have a good track record amongst users. The pads should be worked on only by a professional.

Should Brake Pads Be Loose In the Caliper – Conclusion

By adopting the proper steps such as looking into the right brake pad size for your car, using quality brake pads, and seeking the services of professionals, you can avoid the problem of loose brake pads in the caliper which is not a normal finding following the installation of new brake pads.

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