Have you started noticing squealing noises when you press the foot on the brakes and you are asking yourself how long should brake pads last? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover when it comes to brake pads and their longevity.
- Brake System
- What Are Brake Pads
- Types Of Pads
- How Long They Last
Having a problem like this can be really frustrating because whenever you apply the foot on the brakes, this annoying sound will creep up and ruin your day. And whenever you notice something like this, you shouldn’t ignore it and try to tackle the issue as soon as possible if you want to avoid some unwanted situations.
Brake pads are essential when it comes to your safety as well as the safety of your occupants. If these components are not functioning as they were intended to function, your braking distance will increase, and also the risk of an accident. So, be really aware of these components and learn how long should pads last to avoid some unwanted situations. And we are going to help you out with that.
First, we are going to learn how brakes work, then we will learn what are brake pads and how they work. After that, we will cover the types of pads that are out there and the symptoms that they will produce when they need to be changed. Lastly, we will learn how to diagnose and replace brake pads. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
How Does The Brake System Works?
Now before we dive into more complex topics like the questions of how long should brake pads last. Let’s first take a look at the brake system and learn how this system works on a car. Knowing how this system works will help you understand better how brake pads and rotors work. So, let’s get into it.
The brake system is a really simple hydraulic system that makes your car stop in the fastest possible manner and helps you avoid getting yourself into an accident and suffering some permanent damage to your health and the health of people around you.
Nevertheless, the brake system is one of the systems that did not change a lot during all these long years. It has the same core concept of the master cylinder pushing hydraulic fluid inside of the brake lines and then with the help of a vacuum returning the fluid back into the cylinder.
The master cylinder is the brain of the brake system. This master cylinder is mounted directly to the firewall and then the brake pedal is mounted to it. So, whenever you press the brake pedal, you directly engage and disengage this component.
Whenever you press on the brake pedal, the fluid is pushed into the brake lines and then into the calipers. Then this hydraulic pressure activates the pistons that these calipers open. And as the pistons open, the brake pad and rotor come into contact and your car stops. But how long should brake pads last? Well, more on that in a bit.
What Are Brake Pads And How Long Should They Last?
Now before we learn how long should brake pads last. Let’s learn more about pads in general. What are these components in the first place and how do they work and make your car stop? Let’s elaborate in detail.
Brake pads as their name implies are pads that are installed on your brake system. More precisely, they are installed inside of the brake caliper.
As we mentioned previously, the brake caliper is the component that makes your car stop by activating the pistons which press on the pads. Then the pads come into contact with the spinning rotor and here friction is created.
The friction between the caliper and the rotor makes the car stop. The more friction, the better the car is going to stop.
This is why your pads should always have enough friction material in order for the proper level of friction so the car stops in the right manner.
The brake pad is a really simple component that consists of a few layers. The first layer is the noise reduction shim which helps the car not create a ton of noise when you press on the brakes.
Then there is the backing plate. The backing plate basically is the most rigid layer which is made out of steel and holds everything together. On each side of the backing plate, there are tabs. The tabs are there to help you tell when you have worn brake pads. When the wear reaches the tabs, they will create friction and you will know that the pads need replacing.
Next is the bonding adhesive. This adhesive is there to keep the friction material and backing plate together. But how long should brake pads last? More on that in a bit.
Types Of Brake Pads
Now before we dive into the topic of how long should brake pads last, let’s learn more about the different types of brake pads first. Knowing the types of pads will really help you out when you will have to replace these components on your car and choose the right new pads out there.
The first type of pads are the non-metallic pads also known as organic brake pads. Organic pads are one of the cheapest pads out there. They are created from organic compounds which means that there is no metal or synthetic compounds inside them.
When it comes to performance they are pretty average and they do not last as one of the other two types of brake pads that are out there. But if you want to snatch a good deal, these pads are perfect for you.
The second type is the semi-metallic pads. The semi-metallic pads are most common on cars and they offer an improved performance when compared to organic pads. But they also tend to cost a bit more than the organic. Still, they are a far better option than the organic if you want good performance from your brakes.
The last type of brake pads that we are going to cover before we learn how long should brake pads last is the ceramic type. Ceramic pads offer the most in every aspect. They offer excellent stopping performance and really low wear.
What is worse is that they can be a bit noisy and rather expensive. So, if you have the budget, going for ceramic pads is a no-brainer decision. But how long should brake pads last? Well, more on this we will cover in a bit.
How Long Should Brake Pads Last
Now let’s learn how long should brake pads last on your car? What are the average numbers for the longevity of the brake pads in your vehicle?
On average, brake pads last for about 30,000 miles more or less. This number is still relative because if you have a heavy foot, then the pads can wear much sooner.
If you know how to manage the pads, you can make them last even up to 50,000 miles. And what does managing the pads mean?
Well, it means that in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you could simply estimate how long it would need for the vehicle to come to a stop and remove the foot from the throttle. Then with a little bit of effort press on the brakes and the car would stop.
Using the brakes in a smart manner like this will make them last for a really long time and you will not have a problem with the pads any time soon.
But still, eventually, you will have to replace the pads and when the time comes you will be notified by the brake pad wear indicator. Usually, when brakes are near the end of their lifespan, they will notify you on the computer if you have a more modern vehicle.
Or you will get audible information in the form of squeaking noise that will tell you that you need to replace the pads.
We hope that we answered your question of how long should front brake pads last (and when you need to replace your front brake pads). Now let’s learn how long should ceramic brake pads last.
How Long Should Ceramic Brake Pads Last
We learned how long ordinary brake pads last, now let’s take a look at how long should ceramic brake pads last.
And the answer to this question is a lot longer than your average semi-metallic brake pad. Usually, ceramic pads last for more than 70,000 miles. Which is a rather crazy number that is frankly difficult to reach with a car.
So, if you drive a lot and you want to save some money on these components, going for ceramic pads might be the best idea. Even though they are a lot more expensive, they are definitely worth it and are a decent replacement for the classic semi-metallic pads that most cars are using.
We hope that we answered your question of how long should brake pads last. Now let’s answer another question before we learn the symptoms of worn brake pads.
How Long Should Brake Pads And Rotors Last
Now let’s learn how long should brake pads and rotors last. What about this case? Should rotors be replaced on 30,000 miles as the average brake pads?
Well, actually no. When it comes to rotors, it is worth mentioning that these components last for a really long time. More than 90,000 miles.
Even though they are cheap to replace nowadays in comparison with the past, we still recommend you resurface them at least once.
Rotor resurfacing is a procedure that is taken out on brake rotors when the pads are replaced. This procedure is essential if you don’t want to ruin your new pads and experience unbearable squeaking.
Resurfacing is also really cheap and costs like $10 on average in most places that are replacing brake pads. They will place the rotors on a machine that will smoothen them up and bring them to OEM spec. Now as we learned how long should brake pads last, we can move on and learn more about the symptoms that indicate a need for brake pad replacement.
Worn Brake Pad Symptoms
Now as we learned how should brake pads last, we can move on to the symptoms that indicate a need for a brake pad replacement.
As you are probably aware, every component when it nears the end of its lifespan will start to trigger some symptoms. The more the components wear, the more notable these symptoms will be. This is why we need to learn all of the symptoms that are associated with bad pads. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
1. Brake Pad Warning Light
The first symptom that we will cover when it comes to how long should brake pads last and their lifespan end is the brake pad warning light.
Modern cars are really smart and when the pads reach the wear indicator marks, a warning light will be triggered on the cluster.
It will tell you to check the brake pads or it will give you a visual representation of the problem depending on the manufacturer of the vehicle.
Still, most cars do not have these warning lights and you need to rely more on other symptoms that we are going to cover in the following chapters.
2. Squealing Noises When You Apply The Brakes
Since we covered how long should brake pads last, now it is time to learn the second in our list of symptoms that indicate a need for brake pad replacement.
And this symptom is the situation when you start to experience squealing sounds coming from the brake pads. So, why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because the pads have reached the end of their lifespan and there are only a few fractions of an inch left on them from the friction material.
So, whenever you start to experience these noises you need to act quickly and replace them before the problem becomes bigger. And by bigger we mean when these pads wear too much and they start to grind against the disc and ruin the disc in the process. And you don’t want that. Especially if the disc still has life in it.
3. Visible Wear On The Brake Pad
We have covered how long should brake pads last, now let’s cover the third symptom of worn brake pads. And this is the visible wear of the pads.
If you are a car guy, you are probably aware of this situation. There will be visible wear on the pads if you perform a close inspection on them.
When the pads are new they will be visibly bigger than when they are worn out, obviously. And inspecting them is something really simple. Later on, we will learn more about that. Now let’s cover the last in our list of symptoms.
4. Reduced Stopping Distance
Now as we learned how long should brake pads last, it is time to cover the last symptom of worn pads. Which is the reduced stopping distance of the vehicle.
As you probably assume, when the pads are too worn out, they will perform badly. Your braking distance will be greatly reduced in comparison to when your brake pads were brand new and had a lot of life in them.
So, if you notice something like this and the braking distance increases over time. It means that you need to check the brakes and replace the worn-out components. The rotors need to be resurfaced and the pads replaced. But how you can diagnose and replace pads based on how long should brake pads last? Well, more on that we are going to cover next.
How To Diagnose & Replace Brake Pads?
As we covered how long should brake pads last, now it is time to learn more about how you can diagnose and replace brake pads. How you can tell if your pads need replacing and what you can do in order to tackle this problem quickly and effectively.
So, how you can tell that your pads need replacing? Well, actually it is quite simple. On most modern cars, you have a brake pad thickness indicator. So, when the pads reach a certain level of wear, this indicator will be triggered and you will be notified that you need to replace them.
If you don’t have this feature on your car, you can only rely on the symptoms that your pads produce. These symptoms are the squealing noises when the pads reach the wear marks and the visual inspection where you can get yourself a feeler gauge from Amazon and check the pads for wear.
Then if you diagnose the pads, now it is time to replace them. For this replacement, you will need to get a compression tool to compress the calipers. If you don’t have this tool, you will not be able to install the new brake pads on the vehicle. So, you will have to get this tool in order to be able to do the job. How the job is done the right way, you can check in the video that we attached.
Now as we learned how long should brake pads last and we learned how to replace them, now let’s learn more about the costs.
Brake Pad Replacement Cost
So, what is the cost for a set of brake pads? Well, brake pads are really cheap. A set of pads can cost you about $10 to $15 on average for the poorer quality pads.
But if you opt to go for ceramic pads, you can expect to pay about $25 for a set of two. Overall, they are pretty affordable components. The replacement is the one that is most expensive.
It could easily cost you between $120 and $200 to replace two pads and resurface the rotors. So, it is up to you and how much you want to spend on this job.
Brake Pads and Rotors: Need-to-Know Facts
- On average, brake pads should be replaced every 25,000 to 65,000 miles, while rotors typically should be changed anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles.
- The exact number can differ depending on driving conditions and styles.
- Squeaking or squealing noise coming from the brakes is the first symptom you’ll notice when your brake pads are near the end of their useful life.
- Grinding noise while applying pressure to the brake pedal means your brake pads need to be replaced ASAP.
- Vibration while braking is a sign that your vehicle’s braking system needs professional help, and chances are that your rotors are warped.
- Loss of performance when applying the brakes means your brake pads are worn down completely or that your brake fluid is low.
- Brake warning lights on the dash indicate an issue with the brake system and should be checked out by a brake expert.
- Thin brake pads can be visually inspected by looking between the spokes of your wheels and locating your brake pad.
- Worn-down brake pads can lead to costly repairs and damage to the rotors.
- Regular brake maintenance and inspections can prevent brake issues and ensure safe driving.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the topic of how long should brake pads last. First, we learned how the braking system works and of what components it consists. Then we learned what are brake pads and the types of brake pads.
Then we discussed how long should brake pads last and when you should replace them. After that, we covered how to diagnose and replace pads on your car and at what cost.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
How Long Do Brakes Last
The lifespan of the brakes is really relative. It mostly depends on your driving habits and how hard you put your foot on the brakes. Usually, pads last about 30,000 miles. While rotors last up to 70,000 if you decide to resurface them whenever you change the pads.
How To Check Brake Pads
You can check pads visually. It is a really simple process. Just lean down and turn on your flashlight. You will visibly see how the pad is close to the rotor surface but not touching. If the pad friction material is only a few fractions of an inch, then you have to replace these pads. If the pads are thick, then you are all good.
How Often To Change Brake Pads
You should change them whenever they start to squeak. You should not be too stressed about them. Just monitor the wear of the pads every once in a while and you will see when they will reach the end of their lifespan.
How Much To Change Brake Pads
Changing brake pads is really cheap. With the rotor resurfacing and pad replacement, you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $200 for a pair. In some instances, it could be even cheaper, especially if you replace them by yourself.
What Are Rotors On A Car
Rotors are also known as brake discs. These are the discs that help your car stop. Whenever you press on the brakes, you are basically compressing the brake pads to the rotors and there is friction that is created. Then your car stops.
How Long Do Rotors Last
Rotors have a long lifespan. They can last up to 70,000 miles with no problems. Just perform regular resurfacing on the rotors once you replace the pads and they will last for a really good time.