- How Often Should You Replace Brake Pads?
- Factors that Affect How Often You Need New Brake Pads
- Warning Signs to Change Your Brake Pads
- How to Make Your Brake Pads Last Longer
A highly-functional braking system is crucial for vehicle safety. It provides responsive stopping power, which can help you stay safe on the road. To ensure such, your brake system must work effectively, including the brake pads.
In a nutshell, brake pads contact and apply pressure to the brake rotors. In turn, it slows the wheel, so your car will stop. Over time, it can be prone to wear and tear. Hence, it will require a replacement.
How Often Should You Replace Brake Pads?
Unfortunately, there's no definite answer to this question. The most fitting answer would be, "it depends." Indeed, many factors will come into play, making it tricky to determine its lifespan and when you need to replace brake pads on a truck, 4-wheel-drive, SUV, electric car, or another vehicle.
General Rule of Thumb: 25,000 - 70,000 Miles
On average, your brake pad's lifespan will range from 25,000 to 70,000 miles. This can also be the range that dictates the frequency of changing brake pads as a part of good vehicle and brake maintenance. The best way to do this is to monitor the mileage of your car. Upon reaching at least 25,000 miles, inspect the vehicle's brake pads and see if they're still working as they should.
Aside from monitoring your mileage, another way to determine when you need to change brake pads is their thinness. Most mechanics recommend changing your car's brake pads once they are 3mm to 4mm.
Noise and Vibrations
Lastly, there are some signs you can look out for that the brake pad is wearing out. For instance, it can have a squealing noise and noticeable vibrations.
Changing Your Brake Pads Is Important!
Ensuring your brake pads are in good condition is important for your safety (and the safety of others on the road) and can save you a lot of money in the long run. Worn brake pads can damage your brake rotors which are much more expensive to replace.
Factors that Affect How Often You Need New Brake Pads
How quickly your brake pads wear out depends on many factors. It's different from one vehicle to another and your driving habits.
Like with other parts of your vehicle, quality is a primary consideration. Investing in premium brake parts may be costly at first, but in the long run, you might save money. The lower the quality, the shorter the expected lifespan.
If you have a low-end brake pad, the lifespan can be as short as 25,000 miles. Meanwhile, if you use top-notch brake pads from reputable manufacturers, it isn't surprising that they last up to 75,000 miles.
2. Driving Conditions
When most of your driving includes lots of starts and stops, you can expect your brake pads to have a shorter lifespan. It's because you use the brakes more often, and in turn, the pressure applied to the pad will make them deteriorate quicker.
You'll be braking more frequently if you often drive in a hilly area. The same will be the case if there is heavy traffic most of the time, as well as in areas with many pedestrians.
The material of the brake pad has a direct impact on its longevity. Hence, it also influences how often you will need to change it.
Organic brake pads are made using natural materials, such as rubber and glass. Kevlar is also a common component. They do not cause pollution when they wear out. Plus, their disposal is easy. However, their organic construction also means they wear out quicker, so the replacement time is shorter.
Alternatively, you'll also find ceramic brake pads. They're lightweight and ideal for high-performance driving. With excellent heat dissipation, they're popular for their strength. Nonetheless, you won't find them in many vehicles because they're expensive to make.
Meanwhile, the most popular option is a metallic brake pad. They're a mix of steel, copper, iron, and graphite, among others. These materials are known for their durability and longevity.
However, galvanized brake pads are great if you're looking for a material that withstands the test of time. It offers the perfect solution against rusting. In turn, it can extend lifespan.
Warning Signs to Change Your Brake Pads
While mileage can provide a good basis for replacing the brake pads, it isn't enough. It's best to also watch out for various signs of worn brake pads to know when it's time to replace them.
1. Weird or Loud Noise
Keep an open ear, and you'll quickly detect some of the most common car problems. Among others, one that you might identify is worn-out brake pads. It's common to have intermittent screeching. It has a high pitch, which makes it almost impossible to miss.
A grinding sound can also be apparent. Stop driving immediately, as it's a serious problem indicating that the pads have completely worn out and need replacement. Otherwise, it can damage your vehicle's braking system.
2. Steering Wheel Vibration
When driving under normal conditions, the steering wheel must be steady. If it often vibrates, it could signal something is wrong, and the brake pads are the potential culprits. The slight rumble is most apparent as you prepare to stop.
3. Indicator Light
Understanding the meaning of indicator lights in your dashboard is a must to demonstrate being a responsible driver. Today, many modern vehicles are equipped with lights to indicate the need to change brake pads. If you replace the brake pads, however, you'll also change the sensors that connect to them.
4. Physical Wear
Another good sign that brake pads require a replacement is their physical condition. As a part of periodic safety inspection, look at the brake pads. If the conditions show they deteriorated significantly, especially if it's too thin, it is time for a replacement.
Get your brakes inspected by your mechanic—they will be able to tell you when your car's brakes are looking a little worse for wear.
How to Make Your Brake Pads Last Longer
It's annoying if it only takes a short time before you need new brake pads. Not to mention, it can also be expensive. Although, the latter may depend on the quality of the product. You can have a proactive approach to make brake pads longer-lasting by doing the following:
- Choose the best brake pads. They might be initially expensive, but if you think of the long-term, you'll realize they are worth every dollar. Chances are, they have excellent materials that can withstand heat and pressure, contributing to longevity. More so, it must also match the specific requirements of your vehicle to ensure an optimal fit.
- Learn how to brake the right way. Changing your driving behaviors can help brake pads last longer. For example, in some instances, you might not need to make a complete stop. Instead, slowing down might be enough. For example, if you're in stop-and-go traffic, you could cruise at a slower speed instead of speeding up and coming to a complete stop whenever traffic moves.
- Lessen the weight of the vehicle. This is possible by getting rid of unnecessary stuff. The heavier your car, the higher the force the brake pads experience when you press the brake pedal.
- Flush your brakes at least once every two years. It ensures optimal functionality of the brakes and protects other components in the system, including the brake pads.