Are you aware of how long your brake pads will last before they need to be replaced? As a critical component of your vehicle’s braking system, brake pads are responsible for slowing down and stopping your vehicle. But how long do brake pads last?
In this article, we’ll discuss the average lifespan of brake pads and the signs that indicate they are worn out and need to be replaced. We’ll also provide useful tips on how to make your brake pads last longer, potentially saving you money in the long run. Let’s get started!
What are Brake Pads and Brake Shoes?
Steering and stopping your vehicle are crucial to road safety, so it’s important that you understand the differences between disc and drum brakes.
Both use friction when slowing down, but there are certain nuances which separate one from the other.
Disc Brakes: Disc brakes are an essential part of modern day vehicles – from luxury sedans to pickup trucks, they are the go-to braking system for vehicles that require greater stopping power.
Disc brakes use friction material pads pressed against a rotor or disc when you press down on the brakes. This causes a great amount of friction which results in slowing the vehicle down quickly and effectively.
Drum Brake: Drum brakes are cheaper and less complicated to produce than disc brakes, which means they can be an economical purchase. The friction material used on drum brakes provides the vehicle with consistent stopping power, as the material is affixed to “shoes” inside the drum.
How they work is quite simple really (much like disc brake pads), they use friction material affixed to half-moon shaped “shoes” pressed against the inside of a drum when you step on the brakes, slowing down the vehicle effectively.
These brakes were once installed on all four wheel positions, but nowadays one will typically see them installed solely at the rear axle of most cars and light trucks.
How Long Do Brake Pads Last?
Brake pads typically last around 30,000-35,000 miles when used in urban areas. However, their lifespan may vary depending on the driving conditions and habits. In less demanding situations like highway driving with light traffic, brake pads may last 80,000 miles or more.
Signs of Worn Out Brake Pads
Squealing Brake Pads
If your brake pads have wear indicators, this sound is caused by a small metal attachment that serves the purpose of informing drivers when it is time to bring their car in for an inspection.
Much like dragging fingernails across a chalkboard gives us chills, hearing this sound should signal a possible issue with our brakes. Even if you do hear this noise while using your brakes, it’s important to remember that some brake pads do not come with this feature and relying on sound alone is not sufficient to evaluate the quality of your brakes.
You’ll also want to recognize that wet or damp conditions may cause similar noises after brake usage but should dissipate after the first few times
Less Than A Quater Inch of Brake Pad
When it comes to knowing when it’s time for a brake pad replacement, one way to tell is by visually inspecting your disc brakes. This may mean you need to remove the wheels, but taking the time up front is worth it.
Looking down on the brake assembly or “caliper” holding the brake pads, simply check if the friction material on the pad or shoe looks less than ¼ inch thick (approximately seven millimeters) and if it has been a long period since your last inspection.
If this is the case, you should have them checked out by an expert as soon as possible.
If you ever hear a low rumble or grinding noise coming from your car when braking, it’s important to get it checked out immediately. That noise could be an indicator that your brake pads have worn away and the backing plates are now making contact with the discs or drums of your braking system.
When this kind of metal-on-metal action occurs, more damage can occur if the issue isn’t attended to straight away.
Thin Brake Pads
If you want to make sure your car brakes are functioning properly, it’s important to periodically check the thickness of your brake pads. Generally, when buying new brake pads, you should aim for a thickness of 8-12mm.
The average life expectancy for those brake pads is about 50,000 miles. However, when your brake pads start reaching 6.4mm (¼ inch) in thickness or less, it may be time to invest in some new ones.
If your brake pads get thinner than 3.2mm (⅛ inch), it’s imperative that you replace them as soon as possible because they no longer offer any protection and will put you at serious risk of having your brakes fail while driving.
Decreased sensitivity of brake pedal
If your vehicle takes additional time to come to a halt after pushing on the brake pedal, chances are you have worn-out brake pads. The responsiveness of your brakes has likely diminished as a result.
To ensure that you don’t wear down your vehicle’s brake pads, check if it has a signal light on the dashboard. Your car might be outfitted with such an indicator to inform you when the time comes for replacing your brakes.
Should this alert appear, remember to not only have new brakes fitted but also updated warning sensors installed by a professional mechanic!
Don’t forget to refer to the owner’s manual for more information about your specific model.
How to Make Brake Pads Last Longer?
To make brake pads last longer, there are several steps you can take:
Choose the right type of brake pad for your vehicle
There are three primary types of brake pads: organic, semi-metallic, and synthetic or ceramic.
Organic brake pads are softer and quieter, but they may wear down faster as they are made from non-metallic fibers and fillers.
Semi-metallic brake pads are highly durable and contain about 30% to 65% metal, but they can wear the brake rotors faster and may not function well in very low temperatures.
Synthetic or ceramic brake pads are the strongest and offer the best stopping power, weighing about half the average weight of other pads. They are made from a mixture of non-organic and non-metallic materials, but they are also the most expensive
Adjust your driving style
Driving at high speeds and suddenly stopping can shorten the lifespan of your brake pads. To prevent this, avoid sudden braking and try to maintain a consistent speed when feasible.
Minimize cargo in your vehicle
Reduce the weight in your vehicle by removing any items that are not needed. This will require less brake power to slow down and stop.
Get your brake fluid flushed regularly.
To that your brakes are working properly, it’s recommended that you have your brake fluid flushed every 25,000 miles. Dirty brake fluid can negatively impact the performance of your brake pads and other braking components.
FAQs about How Long Do Brake Pads Last
Is it bad to let brakes go too long without replacement?
Yes! Letting your brakes go too long without being replaced can lead to them over-wearing, potentially causing damage to other components such as the rotors and calipers.
Should you replace all 4 brake pads at once?
Replacing all four brake pads at once is not necessary; however, if one pad needs replacement due to overuse, then it’s advisable to replace the other three in order to maintain balance and even braking. In some cases, brake pads can wear out within 3 months depending on how much you use your brakes, so be sure to check them regularly for signs of wear and tear.
Can brake pads wear out in 3 months?
The recommended time to replace brake pads depends on the make and model of your car as well as driving habits. If you drive often, it’s best to have them inspected by a qualified mechanic at least every 6 months in order to spot any potential problems.
How much does it cost to replace brake pads?
The cost of replacing brake pads varies based on the type of car as well as labor costs associated with the job. Generally speaking, most cars will require anywhere from $150-$500 for new brake pads, but it’s best to consult with a qualified mechanic for an exact estimate.
Brake pads are an essential part of your vehicle’s braking system and should be monitored regularly for signs of wear. The lifespan of brake pads can vary depending on the driving conditions and habits, but typically they last around 30,000-35,000 miles. Check your brake pads regularly and replace them when necessary to ensure road safety.
Thank you for reading! We hope this article was helpful in answering the question how long do brake pads last.
I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.