Brake wear light came on but pads look fine

OlyTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Location
Olympia, WA
TDI
'04 Golf
'04 Golf with 160K highway commuter miles.

About 3 years ago, at about 130K miles, I performed this cars first brake job (rears only). I replaced the original rear pads and rotors. At that time, the fronts looked great so I didn't touch them.

About a week ago, the brake wear indicator light came on (and remains on) presumably indicating time to replace the fronts. This didn't surprise me as they are factory originals and at 160K miles, it sounds reasonable that they'd need replacement.

Today, I pulled the left front and rear wheels to take a look and was surprised to find 7.6 mm of pad left on the front (NOT counting the backing plate) and 8.3 mm of pad on the rear. The front rotor width measures 22 cm even. As such, I can't figure out why the sensor is tripped. These brakes look great!



I just had surgery and am not supposed to lift much so I lazy'd-out and didn't pull all four wheels nor did I carefully examine the inner pads (though on the left front that I photographed, it looked similar to the outer).

Should I more carefully examine all of the pads? Is it possible one is down to 3mm while the others are not? I haven't hooked up VCDS to reset the light.

Any input appreciated and thanks up front!

Eric
 

Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Daughters car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
The only pad that is wired to the light is the inside left (drivers) front. I have seen the outside be great and the inside worn way down. This usually would indicate a problem of some kind. Sticking something, usually slides. If you find the inside pad and the other side of the car to be in great shape also. You can clip the wire off the pad twist the ends together tape it up and the light will be out. That’s the small wire that comes directly off of the inside front pad.

It’s also possible that with the age and movement of the wheel the wire is already broken and thus the reason for the wear light. Twist and tape like I described above.
 

OlyTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Location
Olympia, WA
TDI
'04 Golf
Well, I guess this warrants putting the car back up on the lift, taking off both front wheels and taking a better look. I assumed that looking at the outer pad would be representative of the others. Perhaps not!

I have heard of folks going over 200K miles on their front pads and my driving would probably be in that category as my drives are highway without stop and go. My brakes don't get much use.

Other opinions, experiences?

Thanks all!
 

Genesis

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 26, 2003
Location
Sevier County TN
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon
My experience is that fronts typically go 100k miles+ on these cars, BUT if you have a slider stick (and they do) you can get asymmetrical wear and they'll be destroyed quite quickly. If it happens in a way that the inside pad is the one that takes the excessive wear you can't really see it without removing the wheel. Rears wear at ~2x the rate of fronts in my experience.

The other possibility is that the sensor wire has been damaged; it's reasonably-well protected but it's certainly not impossible for road debris or similar to damage it....
 

OlyTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Location
Olympia, WA
TDI
'04 Golf
My experience is that fronts typically go 100k miles+ on these cars, BUT if you have a slider stick (and they do) you can get asymmetrical wear and they'll be destroyed quite quickly. If it happens in a way that the inside pad is the one that takes the excessive wear you can't really see it without removing the wheel. Rears wear at ~2x the rate of fronts in my experience.

The other possibility is that the sensor wire has been damaged; it's reasonably-well protected but it's certainly not impossible for road debris or similar to damage it....
Thanks Genesis -- Yeah, I'll have to re-inspect. Yes, the rears wear much quicker.
 

Genesis

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 26, 2003
Location
Sevier County TN
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon
Yeah, my experience has been that rears are a 40-50k interval thing, while on my car the fronts were never less than 100k, and some of them will go 200k on OE pads and rotors!

Of course with that much *time* involved before the pads wear out the odds go up that you forget to pull the slider pins and clean the bores + regrease on some sort of schedule, or that one of the rubber boots deteriorates, let's some water + junk in there (especially in places where they salt roads!) and then you're virtually guaranteed to have a slider stick on you.
 

OlyTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Location
Olympia, WA
TDI
'04 Golf
Yeah, my experience has been that rears are a 40-50k interval thing, while on my car the fronts were never less than 100k, and some of them will go 200k on OE pads and rotors!

Of course with that much *time* involved before the pads wear out the odds go up that you forget to pull the slider pins and clean the bores + regrease on some sort of schedule, or that one of the rubber boots deteriorates, let's some water + junk in there (especially in places where they salt roads!) and then you're virtually guaranteed to have a slider stick on you.
Good points. Probably should have maintained the sliders over that time period. Good thing is that there aren't any contaminating elements barring some beet juice on the roads -- but very infrequently. All of the underside of this car is rust free. I'll look more carefully at the other three pads and if they're also in good shape, I'll have to assume that the indicator has failed and I'll clean everything up and lube the sliders.

Or...I'll find that I need to redo the fronts -- pads, rotors, flush...
 

OlyTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Location
Olympia, WA
TDI
'04 Golf
Just to close the loop on this thread. I put the car up on the lift today and sure enough, the wear sensor wire was sheared off and hanging. I put them together and shrink wrapped them and zip tied to the support bracket. No more wear indicator light!

Looked at the front brakes in detail and I have 6mm left on the most narrow pad (the inside driver's side). Everything else looks great. No rust or corrosion. Everything clean and working.

I'll go ahead and flush the system as it is due and then change out the fronts 3 years from now at about 200K miles. The rears will be due again and so will the next flush.

Thanks everyone for the input. All is well again!
 
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