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Last updated on: August 17, 2020  

6 Signs Your Brake Pads Need To Be Replaced

Having good brake pads is essential for your vehicle's braking system to be able to deliver optimal performance. That’s why it's crucial to pay close attention to your brake pads' condition and promptly replace them when they are worn or damaged. 


Proper brake pads can mean the difference between your vehicle hitting an object and being able to stop quickly before touching it. Good brake pads can help to stop a collision from happening, prevent people from being injured, and save lives. Therefore it's important for you to be able to recognize the signs the pads on your brakes should be changed.


Signs The Pads On Your Brakes Need Changing


There are a number of telltale signs you should look and listen for that will let you know when the brake pads should be changed. If you notice one or more of these signs, it means you should change the worn pads on your brakes right away or your car's braking system will no longer function properly. 


Continuing to drive your car will mean that you are compromising the safety, health and lives of you, your passengers and people with whom you share the road daily. Six signs the brake pads should be changed right away are:


1. Squeaking

2. Grinding

3. Vibration When Braking

4. Taking Longer To Stop

5. Indicator Light Comes On

6. Brake Pads Appear To Be Thin


Don't ignore these signs or you can find yourself in danger of being in collisions that can cause property damage, serious injury or death.


What Each Of These Signs Means


Each of the 6 signs mentioned above are clues to the state of your brake pads. It can alert you to why you must take action right away to replace them. Here is a closer look at each sign and why immediate action is required.


1. Squeaking Brakes


Your brakes are metal discs tightly sandwiched between two brake pads. When you step on your brake pedal, the brake pads apply pressure against the metal discs. Many brake pads have steel clips that serve as wear indicators. 


When your brakes begin to make squealing or squeaking noises it usually indicates that the brake pads have worn down below their safe limits and must be changed at the first opportunity or your vehicle will not stop in a timely manner when you step on the brake pedal. Ignore the squealing sound and you risk doing serious damage to your rotors that's very expensive to repair.


2. Grinding Brakes


If every time you step on your brake pedal you hear a loud grinding sound, it often means the brake pads are so badly worn that the rotor disc is making contact with the caliper. Extremely worn brake pads can grind down and cut into your rotors. This can create a major brake system problem if it isn't addressed right away. 


When your brake pads start grinding against your rotors, it can result in damage to the rotors and the calipers and can cause your brakes to fail and be unable to stop your vehicle. If you hear a grinding sound when you mash your brakes, change your brake pads immediately.


3. Vibration When Braking


When the brake pads are overly worn, they can begin scraping metal off of the rotors in different spots. When the rotor is thinner in some spots than others, it can cause the brakes to shake or pulse when you step on the brake pedal. 


When you notice this happening, it means you have to change the brake pads and have your rotors machined to make them a uniform thickness throughout. If you don't do this quickly, your braking system will begin to have major problems and could eventually fail altogether. This vibration is a signal that the brake pads should be changed and your rotor repaired.


Important to note: At Kadotani Auto Repair, we typically will replace rotors rather than resurface them. Thin rotors tend to warp quickly after repair due to their inability to properly dissipate heat. 


4. Taking Longer To Stop


Worn brake pads is a common reason a vehicle would take much longer than it normally does to come to a complete stop when you step on the brake pedal. When a vehicle's brake pads are spent and should be changed, they are unable to put enough pressure on the rotors to quickly stop the wheels from turning. 


This can be very dangerous because in situations where you need your vehicle to stop right away to prevent an accident or stop it from hitting a person or pet, your braking system won't engage quickly enough. That's why changing the brake pads in a timely manner is so important.


5. The Brake Indicator Light Comes On


Usually when the brake indicator light comes on it means the brake pads are spent or the brake fluid level is too low. Some newer vehicles have sensors that trigger the brake indicator light when the brake pads wear thin. Plus, spent brake pads can result in low brake fluid levels. 


When brake pads are threadbare, they cause the brake caliper piston to extend further to force the brake pad to press up against the rotor. When the piston advances further, the space created inside the brake caliper fills with brake fluid. When the master cylinder's brake fluid level drops dangerously low the light comes on.


6. Brake Pads Appear To Be Thin


For the braking system on your automobile to function properly, the brake pads should not be allowed to get thinner than ¼ inch. Brake pad thickness plays an essential role in road safety. Brake pads that measure 1⁄8 inch in thickness have reached the end of their recommended wear limit. 


Driving with brake pads that thin is not safe. When a car's brake pads start to appear to be very thin, then immediately change them. The brake pads on any car should be no thinner than 1⁄3 of an inch in order for them to be able to stop the vehicle quickly and safely. Change all very thin brake pads right away to protect yourself and others and prevent dangerous braking problems.


At Kadotani Auto Repair, you can always rely on us for honest and fair quotes, superb pricing, and skilled automotive labor that won't break up your piggy bank. If you have brake, maintenance or repair issues with your automobile, please call us today to schedule a highly skilled inspection and maintenance or repair.

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Last updated on: May 8, 2020  

9 Very Specific Steps to Passing a Smog Check

Car owners often wonder if there is something they can do to improve their chances of receiving a favorable result when it is time for their car's smog check. Of course, the most simple answer is to make sure that you keep your car in good running condition. This is because a car that is well-maintained and operating at optimal levels will likely present no trouble to its owner at a smog inspection.


But what if your car is not running 100 percent? It can be quite expensive to repair problems with your car when you fail a smog inspection. The good news is there are a number of steps available to you to improve your prospects of a successful smog test.


Clear the Check Engine Light

When a check engine light is activated it spells an automatic failure for a smog check. The next step for you is a diagnosis and fix for the problem causing your check engine light to turn on.

Faulty oxygen sensors are often the cause of check engine lights. Even when the sensors are not totally inoperable they can fail to properly regulate the mixture of air and gas. This will result in a smog check failure. The fix for this problem can be under $200. However, if your oxygen sensors are faulty for too long, your car's catalytic converter will become damaged. This may cost $1,000 or more to fix.


Drive Highway Speeds Two Weeks Before the Test

It became federal law in 1974 for all cars in America to possess a catalytic converter. This converter takes harmful pollutants produced by cars and trucks and converts them to less harmful substances before they are released through the exhaust system of the vehicle.

Driving your car at high speeds heats the catalytic converter enough so that it is able to torch any oil and gas residue that may be present in your car's system. A daily high-speed run for about two weeks should do the trick.


Check The Tires

A dynamometer test is used for smog tests in many states. This test involves positioning the tires of the car on rollers and revving the engine up to a high speed while the car remains stationary. Tires that do not possess enough air will cause the engine to overwork itself to reach the necessary evolution speeds.



Any maintenance your car needs should be performed a good bit of time before the day of your smog checks. Mechanics will often disconnect the battery to your car when they perform a tune-up. The onboard computer of your car will be reset when this happens. You will then need about two weeks of driving before your test to prepare your car for all of the diagnostic checks that make up a smog test.


Change Oil if Needed

Pollutants can be released from your car when there is dirty oil in the crankcase. This could cause a negative result for your smog check. You can also ask your mechanic to check for any disconnected, broken, or cracked hoses while he or she is changing your oil.


Check Gas and Coolant levels

The engine of your car will be forced to run at a high speed while undergoing a smog test. For this reason, it is important to make sure there is sufficient coolant in your car. The time your car spends on a dynamometer will possibly place your car at an angle. If the gas level in your car is low, your fuel pump could be exposed and vapors may end up in your fuel line. This will also cause you to fail a smog test.


Invest in a Pre-inspection

Many states make pre-inspection smog checks available to car owners at a lower cost than the official taste. This test will inform you as to whether your car would pass the smog test or not but the results of the test will not be recorded. A pre-inspection is a good idea for anyone who feels their car is on the borderline for passing the smog test.


Rainy Days

Experts are not in agreement regarding whether rainy days are better or worse for a smog test. One argument is that wet tires are more likely to slip once placed on the dynamometer and possibly result in a smog check failure. The other side of the argument states that the extra humidity present on rainy days will decrease the emissions by your car and improve the chances of a positive smog test result.


Additions to Fuel

Older cars are at risk for fuel clogs that can change the way an engine runs. A good fuel additive will prevent this clogging and increase the chances your car will pass an upcoming smog test. Some states have taken a proactive approach to this issue and already provide necessary additives to fuel. You should investigate the needs you may possess as it relates to your state of residence.


The Bottom Line

Many car owners view smog tests as nothing more than a bureaucratic hassle. However, the car owner that takes the time to understand the test and how it works will do much better than the car owner who walks into the process completely unprepared. The nine tips above are available to car owners who want to improve their chances of passing a smog test.


At Kadotani Auto Repair, you can always rely on us for honest and fair quotes, superb pricing, and skilled automotive labor that won't break up your piggy bank. If you have a maintenance or repair issue with your Toyota, please call us today to schedule a highly skilled inspection and maintenance or repair.



CALL NOW: 831-728-4212

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Last updated on: May 8, 2020  

5 Surefire Ways to Destroy Your New Brake Pads

Your new brake pads can provide safety and security, especially when a hard stop is necessary. However, many drivers do not consider that brake pads can be worn down prematurely through bad driving habits, tail-gating, and excessive speed. Below, you will find 5 tips on how to extend the life of your new brake pads, not destroy them.


1. Drive Slower


When driving, you should attempt to keep to or below the speed limit. Driving faster will require more friction to slow your car down and will wear down your brake pads quicker. Up to 33 percent extra energy is used to slow a car down if it is doing just 10 miles per hour more than the limit. You have to remember that pads have a finite life which is reduced by excessive speed. By driving more slowly, brakes will last longer and keep more money in your pocket.


2. Tail-gating


Stop tail-gating. Not only is it dangerous, tail-gating can cost you cash in the long run. Driving closely behind other cars puts you at the mercy of other drivers' actions. Be proactive by driving further behind other vehicles to eliminate small, quick brakes. If they stop, you need to stop. High-speed braking causes the most wear on your brakes. Pumping your brakes at high speeds can also put wear on your rotors. Damaged rotors can have an uneven surface area that will cause you to need to press the brake pedal down harder. This may cause you to need brake pads replaced more often as well.


3. Coasting to Stops


Coasting to a stop is a practice of using space to slow down as much as possible before actually using your brakes. Coasting before stops gives you ample time to make better driving decisions, slow down naturally, and brake less. This is a great technique especially for longer trips on the highway where you can see further ahead. Employing this during in-town driving may be more difficult. You can't wear out your brakes if you don't use them as much. This habit may take some practice to master but can be very effective in reducing brake wear.


4. Brake Riding


Some drivers also make the mistake of driving with their left foot on the brake. Your driving school teacher would be upset since they did not teach this. By riding the brake, the caliper is constantly applying pressure to the pads and will grind them down quicker. Changing can be difficult to accomplish if we have already developed this pattern. If saving your brake pads from annihilation means anything, getting off that brake will save some of the life of your pads.


5. Remove Extra Weight


Do you treat your trunk like an extra closet? If so, you should remove unnecessary objects from the vehicle to lower the overall weight. Driving with extra weight causes the brakes to need more stopping power to slow down at higher speeds. The camping tent, folding chair, or cooler does not need to be in the trunk, so get rid of them. Braking from 50 miles per hour can take up to 150 feet to stop. An extra hundred pounds of weight in your car can dramatically increase the time it takes to brake. This small tip can allow the vehicle more braking power and improve the life of your brake pads over time.


Braking systems are a critical component of your vehicle's safety. Your vehicle is a very important asset in your life. Be sure to protect both by following some of these tips in your day-to-day driving and be safe on the road!



At Kadotani Auto Repair, you can always rely on us for honest and fair quotes, superb pricing, and skilled automotive labor that won't break up your piggy bank. If you have a maintenance or repair issue with your Toyota, please call us today to schedule a highly skilled inspection and maintenance or repair.



CALL NOW: 831-728-4212




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