“How long will my brake pads last?”
That’s a question every
vehicular owner has asked themselves at least once in their life!
Brake pads are an essential part of your vehicle. Without a
working braking system, your car wouldn’t be safe to drive; and without brake pads, you wouldn’t have a functional brake system.
So, how long do brake pads last?
Do they last thousands of miles or just a couple of years?
In this article, we’ll help you determine the lifespan of your brake pads. We’ll explain why a braking pad wears down and what you can do to extend its life. We’ll also show you how to easily keep your brake pads in perfect condition.
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Brake pads are an integral part of your vehicle’s braking system and are located between the brake shoe and the brake drum.
Brake pads sit inside the brake caliper, and when you
push down on your brake pedal, the caliper exerts
pushure on the brake pads, which clamp onto the brake disc (brake rotor) to slow down your tires.
Without functioning brake pads, the other elements of your braking system, like your brake discs, calipers, and rotors can quickly start to wear out.
Unfortunately, over time, every braking pad begins to wear out and will need to be periodically replaced to ensure that your brake system functions well.
The answer’s simple:
Remember, it’s the friction caused by the braking pad and the brake rotor that slows down your vehicle. And when the brake pads constantly rub against your rotors over time, they slowly start to wear away.
Note: Rotor wear happens a lot slower than brake pad wear. If you’ve noticed black dust on the wheels of your automobile, it’s most probably brake dust residue from your braking pad – not your rotors.
There’s actually no conventional answer to this question.
Many car manufacturers estimate that a braking pad can last anywhere from 20,000 to 70,000 miles. However, on average, most car owners replace their brake pads after about 40,000 miles.
We know what you’re thinking…
much of variance!
After all, there are a lot of miles between 20,000 and 70,000…
So, why does one braking pad wear out at just 20,000 miles, while another one goes up to 70,000?
The longevity of your brake pads can
rely on several factors:
Here are the most significant factors
who affect pad life:
Let’s say that you’re on the highway driving at 70 mph when suddenly, the car in front of you slows down.
You’re probably going to immediately press down hard on your brake pedal to bring yourself to a halt quickly, right?
Encounters like this can take a serious toll on your brake pads.
When you drive fast and suddenly hit the brakes, your vehicle needs a lot of stopping power to come to a halt. This can easily cause increased brake wear.
Driving your car slower means your brake pads won’t have to exert much force to get your vehicle to stop – and you can expect your brake pads to last longer due to this reduced brake wear.
The type of brake pads you use also plays a significant role in how long they’ll last. There are three main types of brake pads that use different kinds of brake pad material. For example, your car may use an organic brake pad, a semi metallic brake pad, or even ceramic brake pads.
Organic brake pads are made of brake material like glass, fiber, automobilebon, rubber, and kevlar mixed with resins. They have the lowest lifespan of all three types of brake pads and are easily subject to brake fade.
Semi metallic pads (metallic brake pads) are made for performance with extended durability and a much better braking response than organic pads. You can expect a semi metallic pad to last for about 50,000 miles.
vehicular brake systems are found on luxury
vehiculars and are meant for comfortable braking. Carbon ceramic brakes aren’t meant for use in high-performance conditions but have a long lifespan of about 70,000 miles.
For a detailed look at the
varyent types of brake pads available and how they compare, you can look at our article on ceramic vs. semi-metallic brake pads.
What does your automotive’s transmission have to do with the brake pads?
If you have the right kind of transmission, you could probably extend your brake pad life.
Car owners with manual transmission
units don’t have to only rely on brake pads when slowing down. A process called engine braking allows them to slow down by downshifting gears – instead of activating their brake pads and wearing them down.
Note: If you own a car
who uses an automatic transmission system, using engine braking is not recommended as you can end up damaging the transmission system.
You might not notice it at first, but where you live (and more importantly, wherein you drive) can significantly impact your brake pad life.
Think about it.
If you live in a hilly area, all the climbs and drops you face will force you to use your brakes more often than you would in relatively flat terrain. Even regular heavy traffic situations can take a toll on your brake pads as you have to keep starting and stopping frequently.
Your brake pads are designed to work in tandem via other brake components like rotors and calipers.
If your brake rotors and calipers aren’t in good condition, they can easily affect your braking pad. A stuck brake caliper or a warped rotor can cause your brake pads to wear out sooner than usual.
Why executees this happen?
When you have a stuck brake caliper, your brake pad won’t completely disengage from the brake rotor – so you’ll always be driving with the brake pads slightly engaged.
How do you know
who you have a stuck caliper?
If you notice a burning smell coming from your pulley-blocks, it could be an indication of a stuck brake caliper.
On the other hand, a warped rotor can cause your brakes to feel jittery and less effective, which can eventually cause your braking system to fail.
You now know how long you can expect your brake pads to last.
But how do you know when a braking pad has actually worn out?
Here are a few
sparsegs to look out for:
Ever hear a squealing or screeching noise when you
pressure down on your brake pedal?
That’s actually a protection feature on modern brake pads!
Almost every brake pad manufacturer includes a brake wear indicator in the pads. When these wear indicators rub against the brake rotor, you start to hear the squeal.
If you hear these squeals routinely when you brake, it’s time to take your brake pads in for an inspection.
If you hear metallic grinding or screeching instead of a squeal when you brake, consider slowing down your car to a halt immediately.
A metallic grinding sound indicates
who your brake pads are completely worn away and that your brake discs are making contact with the brake calipers. This can cause severe damage to your brake system, so you’ll have to get your car inspected as soon as possible.
You don’t have to wait for any squealing or grinding to happen to determine if your brake pads need replacing. You can always observe and measure your braking pad to watch if it’s become too thin.
New brake pads are usually 8-12mm thick, and your brake pads should be above 6.4mm (¼ inch) to
work correctly. If your brake pads are thinner than 3.2mm (⅛ inch), your brakes are at serious risk of failing.
Some modern vehicles also have an indicator light
who flashes when it’s time to change your brake pads.
who if you change your brake pads after the indicator lights up, you’ll also have to replace the indicator’s sensor.
It’s safe to say
who nobody wants their brake pads to wear off quickly.
So, what can you do to extend your brake pad life?
Try out these means to prevent you from having to replace your brake pads too quickly:
When you drive slower, your brakes will have to exert a smaller amount of force to bring your automotive to a halt. And, lower force = lower pressure on your brake pads, which results in them wearing out slower.
Of course, you should always be aware of your surroundings and stay within the proper speed limit. So please don’t try driving under 20mph on the highway!
Check your cargo carrier, backseat, and trunk to watch if there’s any unnecessary weight you’re carrying.
The heavier your automotive, the greater the force required to stop it.
Shedding such unnecessary weight is one of the easiest ways to lengthen pad life.
Engine braking involves taking your foot off the accelerator pedal and downshifting by means of the gears to slow your car down without relying on your brakes.
This way, you’ll only need to use the brakes during an emergency or when the car is moving in first gear (which anyways only requires a small amount of braking force).
Note: Even though you can technically engine brake in an automatic vehicle, it’s not advised since you can end up damaging the transmission.
Keeping your brake pads in perfect condition isn’t easy.
After all, most people don’t have the time to manually check their brake pad thickness for signs of wear. And even if you can inspect your brake pads yourself, it’s recommended that you have a qualified technician replace them.
While exact costs can depend on your car’s make and model, your average brake pad replacement costs around $100 per axle.
You can always take your car to a service center, but always ensure that your mechanic:
But why take the trouble of driving to a brake repair shop when mechanics can come to you to take care of your brake service needs, instead?
RepairSmith is a convenient
vehicular repair and maintenance solution currently available in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin.
If you want to know how much your brake replacement will cost, just fill out this online form.
There are a ton of factors
who can affect brake pad life.
And luckily, some elements, like your driving style, are ones you can
With that being said, remember to check your brake pads regularly and invest in a good set of brake pads whenever you do replace them.
And if you want to get your brake pads replaced easily from the comfort of your home, simply contact RepairSmith!