How to Choose Brake Discs for a Vauxhall

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How to Choose Brake Discs for a Vauxhall

Replacing brake disc pads is a maintenance that Vauxhall owners must perform periodically. With the many options available to choose from with regard to different types of disc pads, it may be confusing for vehicle owners to determine the ideal brake pads for their Vauxhall vehicles. Some repair shops offer replacement brake disc pads on a good, better, or best basis that can further add to the confusion. 

Understanding how disc brakes work and the different materials that brake discs and pads are made of can help Vauxhall owners make an informed buying decision. Also, knowing what the different price levels mean can help buyers select the brake disc pads that work for their budgets. Brake discs and pads can be purchased from auto parts stores, dealership parts departments, and most automotive repair shops that offer brake jobs as a standard part of their service menu. Buyers can also find a large selection of Vauxhall brake disc pads, rotors, and other brake parts on eBay with sellers offering quality products at competitive prices.

How Disc Brakes Work

The term "disc brakes" stands for brakes that use a rotor, caliper, and pads, instead of the components in drum brakes.Disc brakes are much more efficient than the old-style brake shoe and drum design that was the standard for decades. Disc brakes stop better, are less prone to hydraulic failure, and do not overheat as easily as drum brakes. The reason why disc brakes are a better option is due to the design differences between the two styles of brakes.

The Difference Between Disc Brakes and Drum Brakes

With drum brakes, when the brake pedal is pushed, a hydraulic cylinder inside the brake drum pushes the brake shoes against a machined surface inside the drum slowing the rotation of the wheel. With disc brakes, when the brake pedal is pushed, a hydraulic caliper squeezes disc pads on either side of a rotor to slow the rotation of the wheels. The enclosed nature of the drum brakes retains more heat than the open design of the brake caliper. Disc brakes also recover faster from being immersed in water than do drum brakes, as the disc pads act as a squeegee to remove water from the rotor.

The Components of a Disc Brake System

Starting with the brake disc or rotor on each wheel and moving inward to the brake pedal pushed by the driver, the components of a disc brake system are listed below. A brief explanation of each part of the system is also included.

Disc Brake Rotors

On each wheel is a hub that is turned by an axle or spins freely when the car is in motion, depending on whether the vehicle is front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, and whether the drive option is two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The hub has wheel studs pressed into the bolt pattern that match the wheel, which is held on by lug nuts. The rotor also has holes that match the bolt pattern, and the rotor slips onto the hub, prior to the wheel being installed. Thus, the rotor turns or spins with the hub in unison with the speed of the wheel.

The Brake Caliper and Disc Pads

The brake caliper is the hydraulic unit that holds the disc pads, one on either side of the rotor, and when pressure is applied, the caliper squeezes together, using the disc pads to clamp the rotor and stop its rotation. A piston in the caliper pushes the inboard pad against the rotor, and the caliper housing slides until the outboard pad contacts the rotor to create the clamping effect. The caliper is bolted to an arm that is a part of the spindle assembly that holds the hub bearing.

Brake Hose and Brake Lines

A brake hose is attached to the caliper to provide the hydraulics to operate the caliper. Brake hoses are high-pressure components fashioned with dual-walled hoses to protect the integrity of the system. The hoses are attached to steel brake lines on the frame of the vehicle; the hoses allow for movement of the entire wheel and brake assembly when turning or when the suspension moves from road shocks. The steel lines carry the hydraulic fluid from the master cylinder to the wheels.

The Brake Master Cylinder

When the brake pedal is depressed, it pushes a shaft into a cylinder on the master cylinder that forces brake fluid through the steel lines to the calipers on the wheels. In a system with anti-lock brakes an anti-lock controller is placed inline to regulate the flow of fluid to the individual wheels and better control the braking action.

The following chart provides a quick reference to the components of a disc brake system, where the parts are located, and their common cause of failure. Buyers can use this to identify specific parts of the disc brake system.

Brake Component

Location on the Vehicle

Common Cause of Failure

Master Cylinder

Mounted to the firewall between the engine and passenger compartment

Internal seal failure causing the pressure to bypass the seals and not be forced to the wheels

Anti-Lock Controller

On the frame usually in close proximity to the master cylinder

Electrical control failure

Brake Lines

On the frame leading to all four wheels

Rust weakens the line until it opens and leaks

Brake Hoses

From the frame-mounted brake lines to the calipers of each wheel rotor

When overheated, the inner hose can collapse and not release pressure, causing the brake to be partially activated all the time. This can wear the inner disc pad

Brake Calipers

Bolted to the hub and spindle assembly

Rust build-up on caliper slides prevents them from releasing, and piston seal leaks, causing corrosion build-up inside

Disc Pads

On the caliper, either side of the brake rotor

Wear from constant application of the brakes

Rotors

On the wheel hub

Wear to the point of being too thin, resurfaced too many times, or damaged by disc brake pads worn down to the point of metal-to-metal contact

Disc pads are the only component that requires periodic maintenance by way of replacement. Some performance drivers change brake fluid at specific intervals by flushing the entire brake hydraulic system using a pressure bleeder tool..

Disc Pad Construction

The two common types of brake pads are ceramic and metallic, and each has advantages as well as disadvantages. Price is not always a good indicator of the ideal brake pad to be used on a vehicle. How the driver uses the braking system on the vehicle is the more important consideration.

Ceramic Brake Pads

Popular with performance drivers and used frequently on the racetrack, ceramic disc pads are constructed of copper fibres mixed with a ceramic compound. Generally, the more expensive brake pads, ceramics produce a minimum amount of brake dust, recover faster from sudden stops, experience less brake fade because they dissipate heat well, and minimise wear on rotors. However, ceramic pads can be very noisy and produce squeaks on stopping. They cost far more than standard brake pads and are probably not the best choice for everyday driving. Beware of cheap ceramic pads, as the compounds are not as effective and may not produce the intended results.

Metallic Brake Pads

The more common type of brake pads, metallics are a good choice for consumers in a variety of day-to-day driving conditions. Made from metallic fibres, usually steel, these pads do not dissipate heat as well as ceramics, but drivers do not notice a significant difference between the two types. Metallic brake pads do create more brake dust, and, depending on the construction material, can occasionally produce squeaks under certain stopping conditions.

The Difference Between Good, Better, and Best Brake Pads

The good, better, and best selling method has been around for years; salespeople know that consumers typically say they want the best. Truthfully, the differences amongst the three different types of brake pads being offered is minimal. All three stop the vehicle, and a driver cannot typically tell the difference if he did not know which type has been installed on the vehicle.

Lower-Priced Brake Disc Pads

Cheap brake pads do stop a vehicle, but some of their characteristics may not appeal to all consumers. Expect cheaper brake pads to make more noise, squeak when applied, and wear slightly faster than better-quality pads. For an older vehicle, a lease vehicle, or a vehicle that is expected to be sold or traded, the economy disc brake pad is a good option for saving money. Drivers on a budget may also opt for the lower-priced pad and be willing to put up with the noises and faster wear.

Medium-Priced Brake Pads

A better choice for the majority of drivers, medium-priced pads are comparable to the pads from the original equipment manufacturer, or OEM. These pads may squeak occasionally and produce a fair amount of brake dust; but the stopping characteristics and life of the pad are within the expectations of most drivers.

High-Priced Brake Pads

For drivers who put an excessive amount of pressure on the braking system, either by sudden and frequent stops or performance driving, high-end brake pads may provide an advantage in how fast the pads recover from brake fade cause by heat build-up.

OEM Pads

Vauxhall owners who bought their vehicles new and were completely satisfied with the manner in which the brakes perform may opt to go for the same brand of disc pads on the car when the time comes to replace them. Original equipment manufacturer pads are comparable to medium-priced brake pads in performance, but expect to pay slightly more for the OEM product stamped with the Vauxhall logo on the box.

Buying Brake Discs for a Vauxhall on eBay

The convenience of shopping on eBay makes the online marketplace a good place to look for Vauxhall brake parts. Whether one is searching for brake disc pads, a brake rotor, or other brake parts, sellers on eBay offer many types of parts for a Vauxhall.

Using the search parts and accessories tool on eBay Motors easily displays a listing of brake parts that match your Vauxhall. From the eBay Motors home page,, use the drop-down menu in the search tool to select your Vauxhall model, and enter the relevant keywords,, such as "disc pads" in the search box. A listing of all parts that match your vehicle is then displayed. Click on an individual seller’s listing and check the feedback rating to see how previous buyers rate their satisfaction with that particular seller. Complete the purchase by using the safe and secure means that eBay provides for making an online money transfer. You can shop without ever having to leave your house and have the parts delivered directly to your door.

Conclusion

Vauxhall owners who need to replace the brakes on their vehicles can benefit from understanding which of the components of the brake system may need to be serviced. A simple replacement of the brake disc pads is a maintenance that needs to be done periodically, depending on how the vehicle is driven. Occasionally, on older models, it may be necessary to replace the brake rotors or perform repairs to hydraulic components in the system.

Being familiar with the different parts of a braking system, how the different parts interact with each other, where the parts are located on the vehicle, and what is the common cause for those parts to fail can help Vauxhall owners stay current with the required brake system repairs. Having an understanding of the various types of disc brake pads on the market can help buyers make an informed purchase decision and find the right grade of part that suits the budget.

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