4 Symptoms of Bad Brake Pads and Brake Rotors (And Replacement Cost)

The brake pads and brake rotors of any vehicle are essential because they are what allow it to slow down and stop when you put your foot on the brake pedal. Every time you press down on the brake pedal, the brake pads get pressed into the spinning brake rotors which slow down the vehicle.

All of this friction causes the brake pads and brake rotors to get worn out as time goes on. Sooner or later, you will start to notice certain symptoms because of this.

Once you experience these symptoms you should have your brake pads and/or rotors replaced as soon as possible.

Related: 14 Best Brake Pads and Rotors

Bad Brake Pad (or Brake Rotor) Symptoms

1) Noise When Braking

noise while driving

Noisy brakes will be the first symptom you’ll notice for either bad brake pads or rotors. The early symptoms will be squealing sounds every time you step on the brake. But if you don’t fix the problem soon then it will become a scraping noise.

You probably won’t be able to tell if this is due to bad pads or rotors until you have a mechanic check out your brake system.

2) Car Vibrates When Braking

Now if you experience vibrations when you step on the brake pedal then this is due to worn or warped brake rotors. These will often be irregular vibrations that you feel from the brake pedal itself.

You should also inspect your rotors and see if they have any grooves or unusual marks on them. This is also a sign that you need to replace them.

3) Brake Pedal Vibrates


Similar to the above, bad brake pads will cause the brake pedal to pulsate when you put your foot on it. This is similar to the vibrating symptoms of bad brake rotors but you’ll be able to tell the difference because of the pulse feeling in your foot.

4) Poor Stopping Distance

However, if you’re still not sure if you have bad brake pads then you’ll know it when your brakes don’t respond fast enough after you put your foot on the brake pedal.

Once your brake pads become severely worn out and there’s simply too little material on them, it becomes harder for them to slow down the spinning brake rotors when they’re pressed against them.

This means it will be harder for the vehicle to slow down when you want it to. So if you’re ever in a situation where you need to brake very quickly in order to avoid an accident, having bad brake pads will likely prevent you from braking quickly.

This will put your life and the lives of other people on the road in danger. So if you ever have the slightest bit of difficulty slowing down your vehicle then you need to have your brake pads replaced right away.

Why You Need to Replace Brake Pads and Rotors

best brake pads and rotors

The components of your car’s brakes need to be functional at all times or else you’ll be putting your life and the lives of the other drivers on the road at risk.

Brake pads and brake rotors are the two most common components that get worn out in a vehicle’s braking system. The cost of replacing these components together can be a bit costly which is why many people neglect to do it.

But eventually, you’ll have no choice because if you have worn out brake pads and rotors then you’ll have trouble stopping your vehicle when you need to. This could cause an accident and result in the injury or even death of you or another driver on the road.

In addition, if you let your brake pads wear down too much and expose the metal backing, they will actually cause rotor damage which will cost you even more.

Brake Pad Replacement Cost

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best brake pads

The average cost to replace brake pads is between $50 and $150. Sometimes it can even be as much as $200 to $300, depending on the type of car you have. On top of that, you have to consider the labor costs associated with the replacement service.

These costs are typically about $80 to $110 per working hour. The brake pad replacement job should take the mechanic about 1-2 hours to complete. This means your total cost for the brake pad replacement will be in the $150 to $400 range.

Brake Rotor Replacement Cost

best brake rotors

Brake rotors are another brake component you’ll eventually have to replace. Every time you step on the brake pedal of your car, the brake pads get pushed against the brake discs which end up slowing down the vehicle.

Like the brake pads, the brake discs can eventually wear out as well. If you want to replace your brake discs then it will cost you between $200 and $400 for the parts and about $300 for the labor.

This means you are looking at around $500 to $700 total for a brake rotor replacement job. It could cost substantially more to replace the brake rotors on cars with performance braking systems or trucks that are designed to tow heavy loads. 

Brake Rotor Resurfacing Cost

brake rotor resurfacing

Even though you may only be replacing your brake pads, you don’t necessarily need to replace the rotors at the same time. Like minimum brake pad thickness, brake rotors also have a minimum thickness. While they wear down, rotors do not do so as quickly as pads.

In cases where you have plenty of brake rotor material left, resurfacing (or turning or cutting) your rotors is recommended. Any shop that does brake work has the ability to do this. They will essentially put the rotor on a lathe and remove a small amount of the rotor material so it is once again smooth and flat and void of any corrosion or brake pad deposits.

Expect to pay around $20-$30 per rotor for resurfacing, which is much cheaper than the cost of a brand new rotor. Keep in mind that the repair shop will still have to remove and re-install the rotor so some type of labor charge may be added if you don’t remove the parts yourself. Also, rotors have a minimum thickness; they can only be resurfaced so many times. 


Some mechanics will offer you special warranty packages when you want to replace your brake pads. Examples of warranties available can include coverage for 12 months or 12,000 miles, 18 months or 18,000 miles, and 24 months or 24,000 miles. The bigger your warranty is, the more money you’ll have to pay.

The price of these warranties will typically add on a few hundred dollars to the total price of your brake pad replacement service. It is up to you whether or not you want to purchase this warranty.

But if you take it then you’ll at least be covered in case there is something wrong with your brake pads after the replacement has been made.


3 thoughts on “4 Symptoms of Bad Brake Pads and Brake Rotors (And Replacement Cost)”

  1. Thanks for explaining that vibrating while braking can be indicative of worn brake rotors. For the past week, I have noticed that my brakes have been unusually spongy and cause my car to vibrate. I will take my car to a professional as soon as I can to have this checked out.

  2. Thank you for helping me to understand that it is important to replace brakes before they wear down too much and cause damage to the rotors. I think that the brakes on the front of my car have been wearing down because they always squeal when I am backing out of my garage. I’m going to have to schedule a visit with a mechanic as soon as possible.


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