How to clean brake pads

Mechanics 23/04/20 10:00 Migue A.

If your brakes are not working well and you are convinced that the brake pads are not yet worn out, they might be dirty. Let's see how we can clean them up to give them a second life.

Why do the brake pads get dirty?

The most common cause is that brake pads become dirty with grease or oil from the ground, or when greasing the transmission. As the pads are porous, this oil impregnates the pad and creates a film that considerably reduces braking power.

This dirt is also often the source of annoying noises. When this happens, the first thing to do is to check that the brake pad still has some braking surface left and if so, remove it from the brake caliper.

Clean or replace?

With the brake pads in hand we have 2 options, to replace the pads directly with new ones or try to clean the ones we already have.

If we choose the second option, cleaning, the first thing we will do after dismounting the caliper and taking out the brake pads is to check that our hands are clean. Sometimes replacing pads with dirty hands causes them to remain dirty forever.

With clean hands - it is best to handle them with gloves - the first thing to do is to clean the surface layer of the brake pads. To do this, use a wipe impregnated with alcohol. Once this step is done, we will start the deep cleaning.

With a fine grain sandpaper we will rub the surface of the pads taking care to do it in a uniform way. When we see that we have finished with the layer that was dirty, we will pass again a rag moistened in alcohol to remove the dust caused. 


It's the drying time. With the alcohol-soaked pad, we can bring a source of heat to the pad - a lighter - to evaporate the excess alcohol and open the pad's pores. All we have to do now is clean the tablets with a degreaser, rinse them and dry them.

Before reassembling them, it is more than advisable to make sure that both the brake discs and the calipers are also free of oil and grease. You can help yourself to this by using another clean rag with alcohol.

Once we are sure that all the components are clean and dry we can reassemble the pads and clamps. It's time to test whether our operation has been successful.

Once our brake pads have been mounted it is advisable to perform a few dry brakings -they may still squeak at first- so that they can finish adjusting.

We hope that these tips will help you to avoid having to change the brake pads every time they get dirty.  



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