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Can Brake Pads Be Too Thick? (All You Need to Know)

It’s quite disappointing not to have the perfect fittings for your dream car. And if it’s the brake pads then things get more frustrating. You might even feel the urge to change the brake pads if they are not in the correct measurement for example if they seem too thick.

But before you go for the brake pad replacement, it’s better to know if your brake pads are really too thick or it just seems so.

We’ve here answered a few questions on whether brake pads can be too thick, the reasons behind them, and how you can deal with brake pads that don’t fit your car properly.

Can brake pads be too thick?

Brake pads can’t be too thick when it’s made for the specific vehicle following its specification. If they feel thicker than the fitting that can be solved. However, if the brake pads are off-brand or not purchased according to the vehicle model and seem too thick, quick replacement is required. 

Often it can happen that the brakes of your car aren’t working properly and when you check it you find your recently attached brake pads appearing as too thick that it’s not fitting properly! We understand how upsetting it can be since you might need to replace the brake pads.

But to make you calm a bit, we’d like to state that brake pads can’t be too thick as long as you bought them according to your vehicles’ model. 

Manufacturers make the pads keeping your car’s design and specification in mind, so unless the makers aren’t good at their job, brake pads won’t be too thick for the car’s disc brake system. 

However, it can look so because of issues such as the buildup of debris or if the caliper isn’t pushed in properly. These can be fixed simply without changing the brake pads.

Now if you’re wondering what’s the perfect thickness of a brake pad, it depends on the brake pads material’s thickness as well as the vehicle’s specification. 

But in general, a new brake pad should be 10 to 12-millimeter-thick and after around 50000 usages of break, it comes down to about 6.4 mm, which is an appropriate thickness. 

Just like your old car’s brake pads, a new car’s brake pads can’t be too thick. Because the car manufacturers design it following the car’s model and needs. Even if it seems thick, the issue could be related to the caliper or paint layers.

Three reasons why brake pads are too thick

If your brake pads are thicker even after taking the correct ones, there could be other reasons.

Here are three reasons why brake pads are too thick:

The caliper isn’t properly compressed:

The caliper pistons when not pushed in all the way can make your brake pads feel thick. 

Pistons of the calipers are not always smooth to push in unless you apply much force or use a C clump. So when they aren’t pushed in all the way your brake pads may appear too thick.

There is dirt buildup in the caliper piston:

Many times pistons can’t be pushed in all the way due to heavy dirt around them. Because of that, brake pads don’t fit accurately and people consider them too thick for the structure.

If you’ve applied all the methods to compress the caliper pistons and are wondering the brake pads are thicker than the fit, it’s because the pistons are covered in grease and dirt buildup so not letting the brake pads fit in. 

The brake pads have paint on them:

Not always we’d say it’s the pistons’ or calipers’ fault that your brake pads seem too thick. If any of the two reasons aren’t responsible, then maybe it’s the brake pad itself that’s making it thicker.

Sometimes brake pads have too much paint on them which makes a bulky coat over them making them look thick. Until they are glazed well, they won’t fit.

Are thicker brake pads better? Does brake disc thickness matter?

Thicker brake pads are always better than thinner ones as with time and use they wear out decreasing the thickness.

The ideal thickness of brake pads is around 10 to 12 millimeters. This is standard as gradually they decrease to 6.4 millimeters. Brake pads shouldn’t be thinner than 3.2 millimeters.

Thicker brake pads are always better for the best functioning and longevity. Because with every brake the pads get worn out.

Brake disc thickness should be considered with importance as thinner brake disc can lead to many problems as well as accidents.

The brake disc should be thicker than the minimum thickness or else it won’t absorb and evaporate heat. A thicker brake disc means more control. Thickness also helps to maintain the optimal operating temperature of the brake pads and brake disc. 

So undoubtedly brake disc thickness matters.

How thick should brake pads be before replacing?

You should get ready to replace your brake pads when their thickness is reduced to 3.2 millimeters or less.

The standard thickness of brake pads is 10 to 12 millimeters. Though the recommended thickness is considered 6.4 millimeters, keeping it between 10 to 12 mm is a safe choice. Because over time the brake pads shrink to 6.4 mm eventually.

Usually, it takes 50000 miles for brake pads to wear out and whenever they touch the thickness of 3 mm, you should consider replacing them. 

Though brake pads with 2mm thickness can work on a few vehicles most cases the vehicle starts to show signs of worn-out thin brake pads at this thickness.

So it’s always wise to change the brake pads when their thickness is below 3.2 mm.

What do I do if my brake pads are too thick?

Your brake pads can appear too thick due to various reasons. Here’s what to do when you come across such a situation:  

Double-check the model:

Brake pads should be bought according to the vehicle’s model and design. But often people buy non-brand or random brake pads that don’t fit. If you find your brake pads are too thick it’s better to double-check whether it’s in the required size and model. 

If not, then you have to buy another one that fits your car’s specifications.

Fix the caliper’s placement:

Often brake pads seem too thick because the caliper isn’t correctly placed. If the pistons are not pushed in all the way this can happen. 

In such a matter, you have to use a C clamp or a pair of large size pliers to spin the pistons in. While compressing the pistons make sure you’re protecting them by putting a pad on.

Clean the caliper and pistons:

Dirty calipers are another reason your brake pads feel too thick. To install it you have to clean the caliper and the pistons deeply. 

To clean it remove the caliper and free it from the brake line without bending the line. Using the brake fluid rub off the grease and dirt from the caliper and pistons. Use small brushes to clean corners. Repeat until they aren’t fully clean.

They will slide in perfectly then you can fit the brake pads easily.

How do I flatten my brake pads?

Brake pads are better when thick. The thickness doesn’t cause any trouble since brake pads gradually get thinner as with every break because of the friction. 

But sometimes you may find your vehicles’ brake pads too thick which is not a fault of a misplaced piston or dirty caliper. So you may look for a way to flatten them.

Here is the way to flatten your brake pads in a few simple steps:

Collect the tools:

You have to gather a sander, a finishing paper, or sandpaper to jump on the work.

Take precautions:

Grinding the brake pads will produce a lot of dust, which can be irritating if goes into the eye if you inhale it. So before you start working wear a mask and safety goggles.

Remove the brake pads:

Remove the brake pads from the caliper carefully. Place it on a hard surface or a worktop made of metal.

Grind it down:

Using a sander grind the front part of your brake pads. Sand the outer shiny layer at first. Go on circling motion and do it from both the way. Keep observing how much you are sanding off.

Measure and Trial:

Measure the brake pads as you grind them down and try to attach that to the brake disc. If it fits in, then Voila! If not, you can sand one more time.

Final Thoughts: 

Every vehicles’ brake pads are made following a standard thickness. So they can never be too thick unless they don’t match the specification of a vehicle. Brake pads might appear as too thick because of the misfit of the caliper or dust layers which can be solved without changing the brake pads.