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Can Brake Pads Be Put on Upside Down or Backward? (Answered)

Cars are one of the most convenient and popular ways of transportation for people all around the world. It is comfortable and allows us to travel long places at ease. 

Because it is such an important vehicle, it needs careful maintenance, which you can learn about in the abstract below.

Can brake pads be put on upside down or backward?

Brakes can be mistakenly put on upside down or backward with the friction material facing outwards – which is wrong and should not be done. If the Metal part of the pad is in contact with the rotor instead of the friction material, the metal part will rub against the rotor – causing uneven wear.

Brake pads are an essential component of the car which are responsible for controlling the state of motion of your car. Brake pads work by pressing on the rotors and slowing the car down through friction until the car stops. 

Brake pads are important since they not only allow you to control the movement of your car but also allow you to drive safely.

The wheels have two brake pads held against the rotor by a brake caliper that presses against the rotor surface when you press the brake pedal. The friction between the pads and the rotor causes the car to slow down and stop. 

This causes the brake pad to heat up and transfers layers of friction material onto the rotor disc. Having this layer on both the pads and the rotor allows efficient braking and less wear.

However, if this placement of the pads is done upside down or backward, the friction layer will be facing outwards – as a result, such an error will degrade your braking efficiency. 

Not just that, since the metallic layer is facing the rotor now – the friction will cause the pads to have premature wear and degradation.

This is not only inefficient but also dangerous as they compromise the safety of the car. Friction against the metal pad will cause uneven wear and the rotor won’t have a friction layer on them – which will wear the pads out even faster. 

And a worn-out brake pad will result in your brake pads pressing the rotor less firmly – making the brake system faulty.

What happens if you put brake pads on backward or upside down?

Putting the brake pads upside down or backward against the rotor could have several consequences which can massively affect your driving experience and affect the maintenance and repair costs required. 

Below explained are the consequences of putting brake pads backward:

Uneven wearing of the brake pads:

If the pads are placed backward, the friction side will be facing outwards and the metallic side will be in constant contact with the rotor. 

Since the friction side was made to withstand the movement of the rotor but the metallic layer was not, the brake pads will be subject to friction and wear unevenly which will cause the brakes to malfunction.

Compromise in car safety:

If the brakes are worn out from friction, the brake pads will not press against the rotor as firmly as expected. 

This is a huge safety compromise for both the driver and the object in front of the car since the car will take a long time to brake after the driver presses the brake pedal.

Less efficient braking system:

Since the brake pads are installed wrongly, the brakes will not be functioning as they are intended to. 

Due to the decayed and worn-out brake pads, the moving rotors will be lightly pressed by the brake pads – in that case, the moving rotors will not be brought to a halt as effectively.

Can brake pads be installed wrong?

Brake pads are slightly curved thick rectangular pads which have a friction layer on one side with a metallic layer on the other. 

Due to their shape, many brake pads can be installed backward and fit in with the rotor and the brake calipers perfectly – which gives a possibility of installing the brake pads wrongly.

The brake pads should be placed in such a way that the friction layers of the brake pad are facing the rotors and the metallic side is held against the brake calipers. 

However, if the placement is done the way around such that the friction layer is against the brake calipers and the metallic side – the brakes will wear out faster over time.

The metallic layer is not designed to withstand the friction from the spinning rotor, which is why installing the brake pad wrongly would cause a rapid performance drop of the brake system.

Is there a difference between inside and outside brake pads?

The brake pads are not made of the same material throughout – they have two different materials on the inside and the outside – each of which serves a different purpose and cannot be used interchangeably. 

The inner layer is designed to withstand frictional forces against the spinning rotor while the outer side is not made to withstand that but made to be held firmly by the brake calipers.

The interior of the brake pad is not metallic, rather it has a resin layering that rubs against the rotating rotor – making the braking process smoother and durable, which would otherwise wear out quickly if any other material such as metals were used. 

However, that is not required for the outer side of the brake pad – rather the outer side needs to be firm and rigid to be held stably by the brake calipers.

Do brake pads go on a certain way?

Brake pads are not the same on both sides and are made of different materials on both sides which are catered to serve very specific purposes. This is why it is very crucial that you or the mechanic note which way the brake pads are being fitted onto the brake calipers.

There are two sides of the brake pad: the frictional layer and the metallic layer. The frictional layer is designed to withstand the frictional force against the rotor and handle the heat generated from it. 

Whereas the metallic layer is firm and rigid in order to be held against in position by the brake calipers.

The sides are not interchangeable since the purpose of each side cannot be fulfilled by the other, which is why the brake pads must be put in a certain way

The frictional layer of the brake pad must be facing inwards – towards the rotor disc, whereas the metallic layer should be facing outwards – on top of which the brake calipers will be enclosed.

Does it matter which way brake pads go on?

Many people neglect the sides of the brake pads when they are replacing them. 

Experienced mechanics will know the importance of which side of the pads should be facing inwards but many amateur mechanics or car owners do not pay attention and end up putting a random side of the brake pad into the brake calipers.

In that case, if the brake pads are not put in the right way – the metallic side will be facing the rotor and when the car is moving, the brakes will work fine initially. 

But in the long run, the brake pads will be wearing out at a much faster rate as the metallic layer is not designed to withstand frictional forces.

So it does matter which way the brake pads go in or else, the pads will not be durable for a longer period of time and you will notice uneven wear on the brake pad.

Signs of improperly installed brake pads

If your brake pads have been installed improperly, you will notice some strange activities in your car when using the brakes. Some of the most common symptoms of an improperly installed brake pad are described below:

Braking to halt takes longer time than usual:

The brake pads are improperly installed, which means they will decay and wear out faster – making the brakes ineffective. As a result, the car will take a long time to come to a halt after you press the brakes.

Vibration in the brake pedals when pressed:

The brake pedals will vibrate violently when you press them due to the worn-out pads – which means the pads are not firmly in contact with the rotor.

The car does not brake evenly on both sides:

Uneven wear on the pads on both wheels will cause the car to brake with an uneven force, therefore causing the car to drift to one side.

Final Thoughts

Brakes installed upside down or backward with the friction material facing outwards are incorrectly fitted and should not be done. If the metallic side of the pad comes into contact with the rotor instead of the friction layer, the metal part will scrape against the rotor, resulting in uneven wear.