Facebook Debate: Reuse or Replace Old Brake Pad Clips?

Animation by Click Getter

If you think talking about used brake pad clips is nothing to get worked up about, you haven’t visited the YourBrakes Facebook page, where we’ve got an intense “discussion” going on about whether people should replace old brake hardware when they replace the pads or simply grease, clean, and reuse the old ones..

The Facebook Debate

brake pad clip argument, Click Getter animation, Your Brakes
Animation by Click Getter

The following Facebook comments have been lightly edited for punctuation and clarity.

On the “Reuse” side, we’ve got people like Jared, who says, “I clean ’em, lube ’em, and reinstall” and Shawn, who agrees, stating, “I reuse the OEM clip. Couple passes with a wire brush and they’re good as new.”

“I clean ’em, lube ’em, and reinstall.”

On the “Replace” side, we have Craig, who says, “Wow… Look, the hardware should be replaced every time on front or back wheels. The cradle where the clip goes in should be wire wheeled or sanded and then new clips should be installed. The slides should be greased and the caliper piston should be smooth with hardly any resistance going back into the caliper. But I guess that’s the difference between a pad slapper and an actual mechanic.”

“The hardware should be replaced every time.”

Jimmy, another replacer, adds, “Seriously, you think if you didn’t NEED the new parts the pad manufacturer wouldn’t include them? They’d love to save the money by not putting them in the box if they weren’t necessary.”

Judging by the heated nature of the response, this argument could go on quite a while. So we’re going to show why Craig and Jimmy are correct. You should ALWAYS replace brake hardware when you replace the pads.

Brake Pad Clips and Braking Performance

where brake pad clips grip, Your Brakes
Graphic by Click Getter

As we have previously reported, independent automotive testing labs on two continents have confirmed that installing new brake hardware with new pads improves braking performance AND decreases brake noise.

In January, 2016, researchers in Sweden measured 17 dimensions of a brake clip from a 2014 GMC Sierra, Chevy Tahoe and Buick Regal at 35,000-45,000 miles, at the time of the first brake job.

The lab found that 16 out of 17 measurements were out of specification from the original OEM tolerances.

Dimensions Test of Brake Pad Clips

According to John Bennett, the director of the test lab, “If the majority of dimensions are no longer within specification the part will not perform to the original design intent.”

He added that the deformed clips will diminish braking performance.

“Deformed clips will diminish braking performance.” – John Bennett

Why the diminished performance? If the clips are dimensionally incorrect, the pads will likely no longer move within the brake as intended; consequently, they may drag on the rotors, causing premature wear and reducing pad life.

New Brake Pad Clips and Noise

In addition to impacting performance, a separate testing lab in Plymouth, Michigan, confirmed that increased brake noise is another effect of using old brake pad clips with new pads. In fact, tests performed in December of 2015 showed that installing new clips can not only reduce brake noise significantly but also completely eliminate it.

The lab tested a 2014 Sierra with 35,000 miles and a Buick Regal with 45,000 miles. In the first test the lab installed new brake pads but used the old brake clips. In the second test the lab installed new brake pads and new brake clips.

Dynamometer Noise Test of Brake Pad Clips
    The lab adhered to the following conditions and parameters:

  • Noise Dynamometer, SAE International Test J2521

  • 1,436 stops – one stop at each possible temperature and brake-pressure combination

  • Noise measured was anything louder than 70 decibels, i.e. louder than a vacuum cleaner

(Any noise means at that temperature/brake-pressure, noise may occur on every stop)

There was a significant difference in the level of brake noise between the tests.

Replacing brake hardware along with the pads completely eliminated brake noise in the Buick Regal and reduced noise occurrences by 47% in the Sierra, proving that installing new brake clips definitely can lower brake noise.

We strongly believe in recycling as much as possible in everyday life. However, recycling old hardware, which costs less than two movie tickets, isn’t wise since hardware that’s out of spec is likely going to affect brake noise and performance.

Do yourself, your ears and your brakes a favor. As Craig says, don’t be a “pad slapper.” Replace the hardware when you replace the pads.

More from Your Brakes

YourBrakes.com International Brake Industries
1840 N. McCullough St.
Lima, OH 45801Website by Click Getter

More from Your Brakes

YourBrakes.comInternational Brake Industries
1840 N. McCullough St.
Lima, OH 45801Website by Click Getter