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Here are the two signs that indicate a worn-out brake sensor:
If your vehicle has a mechanical pad sensor installed on each brake pad, you may want to pay attention to any screeching or squealing sound on hitting your brake pedal. When that happens, it could indicate a worn brake pad.
In such a case, you should quickly get a brake service to replace the old pad and the worn-out brake pad sensor.
Modern vehicles may use an electrical sensor that triggers the brake indicator light when its circuit breaks due to pad wear.
Some vehicles also have a two-wired electrical sensor with a resistor circuit that triggers multi-stage wear warnings via the brake light on your dashboard. These warnings are based on the degree of pad thickness.
Such wear sensors can also help estimate the remaining brake pad life by taking into account factors like:
So, if the brake warning light on your dashboard comes on, you should immediately take your vehicle for a brake service and get the necessary parts replaced if needed.
The cost of aftermarket pads sensors can range between $5 to $100. And if you opt for a professional brake job, you can expect an additional labor cost of $70 to $100.
Moreover, several factors can add up to the cost of a new sensor, such as:
It’s typically not possible to reuse a pad sensor, and you should replace it at the earliest along with the old pad.
Brake pad sensors are generally designed to break, so they should be replaced whenever new brake pads are fitted. More importantly, if your brake pad sensor sets off an alert, it also means you need new brake pads.
If the friction material of a brake pad thins out completely, it can expose other brake parts to excessive wear. For example, the brake pad backing metal may grind against the brake rotor (also called a brake disc) and damage it.
When that happens, your vehicle can lose its braking power and become a hazard on the road.
Such brake pad wear could also damage other crucial parts like the brake caliper. A caliper or rotor replacement can cost several hundred dollars above a brake pad replacement.
So, if you hear grinding or squealing noises from your front or rear brakes or if the brake warning light on your dashboard is illuminated, don’t take it lightly.
Moreover, if the brake pad wear is due to a sticking brake caliper, you may also need to get your caliper piston inspected and replaced, as it can fail to retract correctly after being out so far.
To prevent all this, you should have a new sensor installed with every new brake pad. It can alert you well in advance when you have a couple of hundred miles left to drive.
Some modern cars also have OEM pads with an in-built pad sensor. This means you don’t need to replace the sensor independently. You’ll just need to pay for one replacement, that’s to install a new pad.
Here’re answers to some common questions regarding brake pad wear sensors:
A brake pad wear sensor or brake pad indicator is a safety feature in your vehicle. It can help keep track of your brake pad thickness and alert you when it’s time to get a pad replaced.
Typically there are two types of brake wear sensors found on vehicles:
A mechanical sensor (also called a wear indicator) is a metal plate designed to come in contact with the rotor or brake disc when the wear has reached the desired pad thickness.So, when you hit your brake pedal and hear a sharp screeching sound, it’s your pad wear sensor indicating that it’s time for a brake pad replacement.
When the thickness of the pad material decreases, the sensor wire comes in contact with the rotor or brake disc. As a result, the circuit breaks and illuminates the brake indicator light on your dashboard.
A vehicle can have one or more sensors installed (one on the front brake pad and a rear sensor on the rear brake pads). These sensors also come with their own software and algorithm to predict the brake pad life.
Some vehicles may even have an electric pad wear sensor built into the OEM pads, or they could be attached separately to aftermarket pads.
Since a pad wear sensor is a part of your brake pad system, it doesn’t need to be replaced on its own.
You can simply get a new sensor installed whenever you get a new pad.
It’s also recommended to get your sensors inspected as a part of your regular brake service and allow a pad change when necessary.
Whether you own a Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen AG, or an Audi, replacing an electronic brake pad wear sensor as a DIY repair is not difficult.
But hiring a professional mechanic or taking your car to the dealership for this brake job is always better. Wrong placement of any brake component can damage the whole braking system and endanger your safety on the road.
If you still plan to do the wear sensor replacement yourself, here are the steps to replace an electronic brake wear sensor.
Note: You should follow these steps once you’ve already replaced your brake pad.
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