How Often to Replace Brake Pads?


Brake pads are used in disc braking systems. These pads are basically steel backing plates which face their corresponding brake discs. Attached to the front of the plates is friction material which gets pushed against the discs as they’re spinning. Once friction is created between the discs and brake pads, it causes the spinning wheels and discs of the vehicle to slow down. This is the gist of how braking works when you step on the brake pedal.

Every time you apply the brakes, it wears down the brake pads just a little bit. Eventually, it will get to a point where the brake pads are too worn down and need to be replaced. You will likely know when that is happening because the braking performance won’t be as good as it was before. If you wait too long to replace your brake pads, it could increase your chances of getting into an automobile accident. Don’t take this chance because it is so easy and affordable to replace brake pads. But the consequences of not replacing them could be much costlier.

Mileage and Other Factors

You can expect to replace your brake pads every 50,000 miles or so. But there is no real way to provide an accurate estimate because it depends on the driving habits of the driver. For example, if you regularly drive around town in stop-and-go traffic, this means you’re applying your brakes quite frequently. In fact, you’re probably riding the brakes for most of the time during your trip.

As a result, your brake pads will wear out a lot faster if you regularly drive like this. Then you can expect to replace your brake pads every 25,000 miles instead of every 50,000 miles. On the other hand, if you do a lot of interstate driving where you activate cruise control and keep your foot off the brake pedal for most of the trip, then your brake pads will last a lot longer. You may be able to wait for 75,000 miles before you need to replace your brake pads.

Aside from your driving habits, you must consider the type of brake pads you have as well. If you have regular metal brake pads, then they won’t last as long as the ceramic brake pads. Pay attention to the hardness and thickness of the pads. The more they diminish, the closer you are to needing new brake pads.

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Warning Signs

If you get regular maintenance inspections and tune-ups at your local auto shop, then your auto technician is likely inspecting your brake pads too. However, don’t wait for them to tell you whether your brake pads are going bad. Look out for the signs of bad brake pads, so you can have them inspected immediately afterward.

Here are some signs of bad brake pads:

1) Squealing Noises – The first sign of trouble with your brake pads is squealing or screeching noises being made each time you step on the brake pedal. There is a tiny metallic shim indicator within your brake pad which causes this noise. It may also be caused by dust or debris on the brake pad. This is common if you’ve driven through snow or rainy roads.

2) Metallic Grinding Noises – After your brake pads’ friction material has gotten too thin, it will cause metal on metal contact between the pads and the discs. This will cause grinding noises to be heard as you brake. Don’t let this go on for too long because it could damage your discs.

3) Indicator Lights – Newer vehicles have brake indicator lights on the dashboard which let you know when your brake pads need to be replaced. Pay attention to those warnings and don’t ignore them.


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