By E.S. MacLean — March, 2018

My introduction to a brake pad slap came last April when I did a dumb and costly thing—I waited to see if a noise coming from my Malibu’s brakes would somehow magically go away. It didn’t (of course) and I headed to the auto shop up the road, where a manager delivered the news. My front brakes were toast. One had 10% of its padding left, the other had none at all. And (bigger news) I needed new rotors: my reward for waiting.

As the manager added up the estimate, I asked about brake hardware. It was something I knew about from working with Carlson and something which he hadn’t mentioned.

“Are you replacing the brake clips?” I asked.

He looked up and stared at me. “No,” he said. “We’ll clean them off and reuse them.”

What happened next felt a bit odd: I asked the manager of an auto shop to add parts to a work order. And from the look on his face, I’d say discussing “brake hardware” with a customer was a first for him.

Hopefully, Carlson is going to change that. Between now and the end of May, the company is running a campaign of print and online ads—a media blitz of over 2 million ad impressions in Brake & Front End, Tire Review, Counterman and Aftermarket News. The message, aimed at industry pros and techs, can be expressed in three words: don’t brake pad slap.

A “pad slap,” as Mark Phillips of Counterman explains in the following video, is what I avoided at my auto shop—it’s a brake job where you reuse old brake hardware and just “slap” on new brake pads…

In the video, Phillips shares four common brake job mistakes…

1. Not replacing the hardware

Reusing old hardware is like putting old shoelaces on a new pair of shoes—it’s a lousy idea. Brake hardware is designed to hold the brake pads in exactly the right place. It wears out over time (as the brake pads do) and doesn’t work exactly right.

So if you don’t replace the hardware during a brake job, guess what? It’s not a complete brake job. You are guaranteeing your new brake pads are going to be, to a greater or lesser degree, out of position. The result? Noise and premature wear on your new pads.

2. Not lubricating the guide pins

Guide pins, as their name implies, are brake parts designed to guide and direct the movement of brake pads on and off the rotors. During every brake job, you need to lubricate them with the right stuff—brake caliper grease. And if you see ANY sign of rust, replace them.

Michelin Drive Belt Ad

3. Installing the brake pads backwards

Installing a brake pad backwards? “It happens more often than you think,” says Phillips. “Especially when the vehicle’s owner complains that the brakes are grinding after a friend changed the brake pads.”

4. Not properly torquing the caliper bracket bolts

“Not all caliper bracket bolts are the same,” says Phillips. “Torque ranges can vary from 30- to 110-ft/lbs. Also, some bracket bolts can be torque-to-yield or require liquid tread lockers.”

There you have it—avoid the brake pad slap. It’s the message Carlson is spreading right now from coast to coast, and that hopefully will include the auto shop up the road from me.

Let the hardware conversations begin.