Most Possible Causes of Uneven Brake Pad Wear

The braking mechanism of an automobile plays a very crucial part in keeping everyone in the car safe. However, brake pads wear down over time, and sometimes you may see uneven brake pad wear.

Eventually, all brake pads need replacement, so it is practical to keep an eye on brake pads wear unevenly. To ensure the best safety, the driver should look for what causes brake pads to wear unevenly. The percentage of decay depends on multiple variables, including the driving style, choice of brake pad, the condition of brake rotors, and the brake calipers.

What Are Brake Pads and How They Function?

The visible part of the braking system is the brake pedal on which you apply force to make the car halt. There are other parts too that stay hidden inside the car. You will find many complex parts, including a brake disc, hydraulics, and brake pads. All these parts along with the electrical systems play a role in using force to stop a vehicle. The composition of a brake pad will give a clear idea about uneven wear on brake pads.

The pads come in contact with the wheel brake rotor or plate and apply sufficient friction pressure to slow down and stop the speeding wheels. A steel plate is the pad’s raw material on which friction substance, which could be organic or ceramic, is present.

uneven brake pad wear causes
Brake pads have friction substance. (Credit: snafu)

Carbon compounds, glass, Kevlar, a mixture of rubber, and some resins are the standard raw materials for organic brake pads. These components wear down over time as you run the vehicle, and the most common issue they create is uneven brake pad wear.

A back-plate assembly houses brake pads or lining. This assembly fits inside the brake drum. When you apply force on the brake paddle, the back-plate apparatus expands. During this event, the brake lining comes in contact with the brake drum. Due to the friction of brake pads with the brake drum, the wheel comes to a stop.

Most Possible Causes of Uneven Brake Pad Wear

Irregular wear on the brake pads is an unusual situation, and taking care of this is crucial for vehicle fitness. Such pads are problematic for the braking apparatus.

  • Unequal wearing on the brake lining could force the braking system to fail.
  • Inconsistent brake pad wear causes the back-plate assembly to fail much faster than usual.
  • If un-uniform brake lining decay is overlooked, the vehicle wheel assembly and the drivetrain could sustain severe damages.

Here are the most common reasons for lopsided wear on the pads:

Un-uniform Alignment of Brake Lining

At times, when new brake pads are installed in the car, the technician might not be able to fit them evenly. It could also happen due to a dented bracket on the back of the brake lining. Whenever a driver applies force to misaligned brake pads through the paddle, the brake lining wears unevenly.

The driver will face this problem just a few days after installing brand new brake pads. You should go to the mechanic again for a checkup of the braking system to rectify the alignment issue.

Caliper Pistons Are Sticky

One of the frequent causes of uneven brake pad wear issue is sticky caliper piston. Rust, soil, mud, or debris make the caliper piston sticky. Such pistons are unable to move freely with the movement of the brake paddle. The caliper stays stuck at one place in close contact with the brake disc. Therefore, the brake lining also sticks to the brake drum and decays slowly. This situation may happen with only one or two wheels, causing brake pads wear unevenly.


Brake Drum or Rotor Thickness Variation

Brake rotating disc’s depth difference is a technical word that denotes that the brake drum rotors of a car have varied thickness levels. Whenever there is a difference in the thickness of the brake rotors, it will make the brake pads decay much faster in an uneven manner.

The brake rotors will possess more flat spots where the brake linings make contact and generate friction force. When it occurs, there will be rough patches on the brake pad located on that specific side of the automobile.

Brake Pads from Different Manufacturers

The brand and type of the brake pads should be the same when you are replacing the older ones. Sometimes, you will observe certain variations if the brake linings are from aftermarket shops or cheap sources. It is also one of the significant causes of unequal wear on the pads.


To minimize uneven brake pad wear, avoid sudden braking and overloading the vehicle. Also, don’t forget to drive slowly in heavy traffic. Regular check and maintenance of your car in a certified service center will ensure that the brake system is working as intended.