Why Do Brake Pads Wear Unevenly?

If you are experiencing uneven wear on your brake pad you don’t have to get all worked up. Uneven wear of brakes is a common problem with brake pads. Brake pads are part of your car’s brake system. Pressure on the brake pads means friction is generated.

The generated friction in turn causes your car wheels to stop rolling when the brakes are applied. Generally, brake pads require a change after about 60,000 miles. However, before the replacement, they may wear unevenly. So, the question of why do brake pads wear unevenly? 

Brake pads wear unevenly if the pressure applied on their surface is not distributed equally. Below are some reasons why brake pads may have uneven wear.

Why Do Brake Pads Wear Unevenly?

a. A Variation In The Thickness Of The Brake Rotors:

When the thickness of your car brake rotors differs across their ends it is called Disc thickness variation. This variation is often responsible for the uneven wear of the brake pads. This is because since the rotors have varying degrees of thickness, some spots frequently contact the brake pads than others. When this happens often there will be uneven wear of the brake pads.

b. Clogged Brake Caliper:

When the brake pistons are filled with dust, rust and other debris the caliper get sticky. This causes the pistons not to work as they should as sliding becomes more difficult. The affected side will have the brake pad rubbing on the brake rotor more often than others. This will result in uneven wearing of the brake pads in the long run.

c. Poor Installation Of The Brake Pads:

This occurs during a brake pad replacement. Sometimes the technician installing the brake pads may not properly align them. Where there is a misalignment of the brake pads, there will be uneven wear. A misalignment is usually evident from the first few days following the installation of new brake pads. When this occurs draw the attention of your automobile mechanic to it. 

d. Rusty Brake Rotors:

Another reason for unevenness in brake pads wearing is if the brake rotors are dirty and rusty. The dirt may be because the rotors are getting old. It may also be because the new rotor was installed with stain. Rust may also start building from the dirt-filled part of the rotor. This invariably causes the wear of that part of the brake pad leading to uneven wearing across the brake pads. 

Cleaning the brake rotors with a special brake cleaner can help correct this problem by getting rid of the dirt. The application of anti-rust solutions on the brake rotors will also help prevent rusts. 

e. Uneven Surface Of The Brake Rotors:

When the surface of the brake rotor is uneven, there are high chances pads will wear unevenly too. This is because the brake pad will have more contact with some parts of the rotor than other parts.

f. Installation Of Different Types Of Brake Pads:

 When different types of brake pads are installed there are tendencies that they will also wear at different rates. This is because of the variation in the materials they are made of. This is why using one type of brake pad is encouraged. Unless you are switching to one of higher performance and durability. 

What Are The Types Of Brake Pad Wear

There are four ways of wearing brake pads. There is even wear, innerwear, outerwear, and tapered wear. 

a. Even Wear:

When your brake pads wear evenly it means the same amount of pressure is applied across your car brake system. It also implies the brake pads were properly aligned and they operated as they should. This resulted in even wear of the brake pad due to its usage or shelf life. When this happens you have to exchange your brake pad for a new one. 

b. Inner Wear:

A brake pad has innerwear when its interiors are more worn than its external board. This often happens when the caliper pistons are damaged and fail to pull back to their initial state after work. When this occurs the interior board of the car brake pad may wear.

c. Outerwear:

This is a common type of brake pad wearing. Here the external part of the brake pad wears faster than its interior board. This is usually due to the action of the external pad when the caliper is no longer drawn.

d. Tapered Wear:

Tapered wear occurs when the wear on the brake pad takes a horizontal pattern. It is an uneven brake pad wear. It requires a change of brake pad once it is noticed.

Should Brake Pads Move Freely

Yes, brake pads are supposed to be firmly and tightly fitted. They are not meant to be loose and wiggly. Neither is it meant to be tight. It is supposed to snuggly fit. There are certain reasons why brake pads may be loose. Some are; excess paint on the brake pad, failure of piston to return to position and the use of wrong brake pads.

Problems with the caliper are often associated with the accumulation of rusts and corrosion on its carrier. A solution is cleaning your brake system with anti-rust agents. Painting your brake pads excessively can also be detrimental to it. It will prevent it from a snuggly fit as it should be.

To solve this problem, check if your brake pads have excess paint on them. Next, file off the excesses from this metal arm. Do it with a small file. Be careful not to file excess metal from the brake pad. You do not want the unnecessary screeching noise from your brakes associated with a loose carrier.

Furthermore, when you use the wrong type of brake pad it won’t fit properly into your car brake system. Be sure you have the right type and size of brake pads before installing them.

Can You Drive With Worn Brake Pads

It is possible to drive with a worn brake pad, however, you shouldn’t. This is because it causes more damage to your car braking system. Below are some of the consequences of driving with a worn brake pad.

1. You may end up damaging your car brake rotors and the calipers. This in turn will cost you more money for a brake system replacement. Since the brake pad, the brake rotors and calipers work closely together. When the pad gets worn and is not changed, soon its wear rubs off on the other components. 

2. Your brakes lose efficiency and their stopping prowess. When you continue driving with a worn brake pad it wears further. This in turn will make it difficult to perform its function of stopping your car when you hit the brakes.

3. You may end up having a car that vibrates when brakes are applied. Your brakes shouldn’t vibrate when pressure is applied to them. However, when you drive with a worn pad, it damages the brake rotors. This causes vibrations to travel through the car when braking.

4. Continuous use of a worn brake pad can cause your tires to wear. Because the pads are worn, more force is needed on the brake pedal. This increased force in turn may take its tour on your tires.

What Are The Signs Of A Worn Brake Pad

When your brake pads are worn, here are some of the signs your car gives;

1. A visibly thinning of the brake pads. One way of knowing your brake pads are worn is by using your spokes to look at them. If the brake pad on the rotor is less than a quarter-inch thick then a replacement is needed immediately.

2. A prolonged screeching noise when you hit the brakes. One way to know your car brake system needs maintenance is the presence of the annoying screeching noise. When you hear this check your car brake system. It may require cleaning or a change of brake pads.

3. Excessive creation of brake dust. When the dust produced by your brakes is more than usual and thicker, you may have a worn pad. When you notice this you should check your brake pads and replace them promptly if worn.

What Should You Do When You Have A Worn Brake Pad

Once you know your brake pads are worn you should change them. Also, consult with your mechanic to decide on a suitable brake pad for your vehicle.


Brake pads wear. They wear either evenly or unevenly. Either way, they wear, you should change a worn pad. It is also not recommended to drive with a worn pad