What is Brake Pad Delamination and What Causes It and How Can I Avoid It?

Your car’s brakes are undoubtedly one of the most critically important components. You don’t have to become a technical expert in all things automotive to understand that your brakes need to be in perfect working order at all times, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time to learn about common problems that affect them. One such issue is brake pad delamination, and that will be the core subject of today’s blog.

What is Brake Pad Delamination?

In simple terms, brake pad delamination is where the friction material component of the brake pad has separated from the steel backing plate. It’s not necessarily a problem that occurs on older brake pads, but can also occur on newer ones where there is still a significant amount of the friction material still on them.

To use a more everyday analogy, imagine if your footwear was suddenly to lose its sole. It would make them pretty useless and uncomfortable, wouldn’t it? Well imagine how potentially useless and even dangerous a brake pad is once the friction material has decided to come loose, and you’ll get close to seeing what a serious problem this really is.

Delaminated brake pads can also contribute to warping your brake rotors, which depend on having a smooth and even surface in order to work properly. Even tiny warps in the rotor mean contact with the brake pads becomes imperfect, which in turn reduces the efficacy and safety of your brakes.

What Are the Causes of Brake Pad Delamination?

One of the most common causes of delamination is excess moisture on the brake pad backing plate which when oxidized will lead to excessive amounts of rust. This rusting is what can cause the friction material to come out of place. Those who are driving in the rain and/or in snow may experience this if moisture is allowed to linger, and vehicles in humid climates and in coastal areas are more susceptible to this potential problem.

Another problem that’s related to rust is the issue of edge lift. Those areas with harsh winters like the Midwest that have their roads heavily salted have been shown to have higher instances of edge lift caused by rust and corrosion brought on by road salt getting embedded in the brake pads. The corrosion removes the essential bond between the friction material and the backing plate, causing it to slip and drag. This normally creates a lot of noise and vibration, but also can make your vehicle unsafe and unstable.

Finally, the other chief cause of brake pad delamination is shoddy construction. In particular, the use of low-grade black steel as the material for backing plates is a big issue because black steel is not properly treated to remove the mill scale that forms on it when it gets hot. Some manufacturers even blast the surface to try and remove mill scale, which actually binds some of the scale into the steel’s own granular structure. High-quality steel backing plates are immersed in an acid bath to remove it properly.

How to Avoid Brake Pad Delamination

The best way to avoid brake pad delamination is to invest in high-quality brake pads that are made to meet the most stringent international safety and manufacturing standards. Most reputable OEMs will use such brakes, and it’s mostly in the aftermarket you have to be more careful. Look for those who point to the specific materials and processes they use that prove the backing plate is made to the best-possible quality.

You should also be sure to wash your car thoroughly to remove any traces of road salt that can get stuck in the brake mechanisms and cause corrosion. Keep your brakes dry and moisture-free as much as possible and that will also contribute to better brake health.

Read our article Top 5 Causes of Brake Pads Wearing Unevenly for more information about brake pad delamination.

You can learn more about the top-quality brakes in our selection by visiting our online store.

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