Are you confused if you need to change your brake pads and you keep asking yourself how often to change brake pads? Well, if this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
Doing proper maintenance on your brakes is a really essential thing if you want to have a proper driving vehicle and not drive a safety hazard. Why I’m saying this? Well, because it is true, a car with bad brakes is basically a danger for the traffic and the pedestrians.
This is why you should know the intervals when you should perform this brake pads change. This way, you will be sure that there will be no problems with them. Also, not only the change intervals, you need to learn how to inspect your brakes and determine if your brake pads and rotors need to be replaced. And we are going to help you out with that.
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First, we are going to cover what are brake pads and how the brake system works in a car. Then we will cover the symptoms of worn brake pads and how often to change brake pads. After that, we will learn how you can change your brake pads and the costs that will be involved in this work. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Are Brake Pads, And How Often To Change Brake Pads?
Now before we jump into a more complex topic like answering the question of how often to change brake pads, let’s first learn what are brake pads in general? I bet that there are a ton of people who are reading this article and are not familiar with these components. And this is why we need to answer this question.
Brake pads are integral components in your brake system. Without brake pads, stopping the car would be impossible. In the past, there were used brakes known as drum brakes. These drum brakes were really hefty and not that effective because they tend to overheat a lot.
Since the late 60s, there was a slow but steady shift towards a new brake system known as brake pads and rotors system.
This system was designed differently. And the main method of action of this type of brake system is the procedure when the pad comes in contact with the rotor and stops the vehicle.
The rotor is made out of metal and the pad is a friction-like material. The pad is basically a metal plate on which there is mounted some friction material and this friction material makes the car stop effectively.
There are different types of brake pads out there and this is why they deserve a separate chapter. We will cover all of the types in the next one and then after we will cover how often to change brake pads.
Types Of Brake Pads
Now before we elaborate on how often to change brake pads, let’s first discuss the different types of brake pads that are out there. If you didn’t know, there are a few of these types of brake pads and each of them performs differently. So, what are these types? Let’s elaborate on them.
Semi-Metallic – The first type of brake pad that we are going to cover is the semi-metallic type brake pad. These brake pads are made out of 30 to 60% of metal. These pads last for a really long time and are used in racing applications.
Ceramic – These carbon-ceramic brake pads are really expensive and for a reason. They perform the best of all of the different types of brake pads that are out there. They basically outperform everything and are used on really expensive cars.
Low Metallic – These brake pads are really cheap and affordable. They tend to be noisy through and create a ton of brake dust. But they perform really well because they contain copper and steel. These two metals help in heat dissipation and help your brakes to cool sooner.
Non-Asbestos Organic Pads – This type of brake pad is made out of purely organic compounds. This means that there is no metal or other materials. The main materials for these pads are fiberglass, kevlar, and other organic durable compounds. They perform well and are common on streetcars. The only downside is that they wear much faster and also create a ton of brake dust on the wheels.
Overall, these are the types of brake pads. But how often to change brake pads? We will get to that in a bit after we learn how the brake system works in-depth.
How Brake System Works?
Now before we answer the question of how often to change brake pads, let’s first learn more about how the braking system works. This will be extra useful for you to understand when you should change brake pads and how to locate and diagnose bad pads if you have some.
Nevertheless, as we mentioned previously, cars were using something known as drum brakes in the past. The whole process of engaging the brakes was kept but the brakes have evolved into something known as rotor brakes that we use nowadays.
These types of brakes were a step up in performance. The old and annoying drums were removed and the brake pads and rotors became the mainstream that we see today.
What is important though is that this system is a hydraulic system. The brakes work with the help of hydraulic fluid. This fluid is also known as DOT. So, you will come across DOT 3, DOT 4, and DOT 5.
This hydraulic fluid is pumped through a device that is known as a master cylinder. When you press the brake pedal, you are basically engaging this master cylinder. Then the fluid from the master cylinder travels through the brake lines in the calipers.
And here the magic happens. The hydraulic fluid helps the pistons to open and the pistons are pressing the pads against the brake rotor. This action helps your car to come to a stop. Then when you depress the pedal, the pads disengage from the rotor. Overall, this is how this system works. But how often do change brake pads based on this information? More on that in a bit.
Symptoms To Lookout For How Often To Change Brake Pads
Now before we answer the question of how often to change brake pads. Let’s first discuss the symptoms of bad brake pads.
Knowing these symptoms will be really useful for you to understand if you have bad brake pads on your car and make a decision to replace them. So, if you are interested to learn how to diagnose bad brake pads and be able to tell how often to change brake pads, the following chapters are really important for you.
1. Grinding Or Squealing Noises When Brake Pads Engage
Now before we dive into the question of how often to change brake pads, let’s take a look at the first symptom connected to bad brake pads and that is the squealing or grinding sound that is created when the brake pedal is engaged.
At first, when the brake pads reach their limit, there should be a present squealing sound. So, when the brakes become louder and louder, it is a clear sign that you have a problem. But when they start to grind, it is obvious that there is nothing left from the brake pad material.
This is why you need to listen to this audible information and make sure that the brake pads are good. And you can do that by diagnosing bad brake pads. But how you can do that we are going to explain after we cover the question of how often to change brake pads.
2. Indication On The Cluster That Brake Pads Are Worn
The second symptom of bad brake pads that we would like to discuss before we cover how often to change brake pads is the situation on your cluster.
Modern cars are all packed with sensors and other components that are smart enough to detect when your brakes need servicing.
It’s not like back in the day when you needed to do everything by yourself. Nowadays cars tell you when you have to replace the pads.
So, if you get the notification ”Service Brakes Soon” or a “service brake assist” message means that your brakes are nearing the end of their lifespan. Your next action in the next few hundred miles would be to take your car to your local dealership or mechanics shop and get the brakes serviced.
You can also do it by yourself. Later on, after we tell you how often to change brake pads, we are going to explain replacing is done DIY.
3. Longer And Further Stopping Distance
The next symptom of worn brake pads that we would like to cover before we learn how often to change brake pads is the situation with the longer stopping distance.
As you can probably assume, when the brakes are worn, you will highly likely be experiencing a reduction in the brake distance of your car.
So, what does this means? Well, it means that your brakes will not work as they used to in the past when the brakes were in good condition.
The car will produce squealing and grinding noises. It will not like to stop at the desired distance. This could also be dangerous though. So, after you notice that the brakes do not perform as they did before, then this is a clear sign that you need to address the brake pads and rotors.
But how often to change brake pads? We will get to that in a bit after we cover the last probable symptom when it comes to bad brake pads.
4. Visual Damage
The last symptom of worn brake pads that we are going to cover before we learn how often to change brake pads is the symptom when you visually notice wear and tear on the components.
More precisely on the rotor. When the brake pads are all worn out, you will notice how the brake rotor will be all grooved out.
This could be an expensive thing, but later on, we are going to learn how much it will cost you on average to sort out this thing on your car. The next thing that we will cover is the question of how often to change brake pads. Knowing this will give you a good estimate on when should be your brake service intervals for your car. So, follow us along.
How Often To Change Brake Pads
Now we came to the important bit and that is how often to change brake pads? And what is the answer to this question?
Well, the answer really depends on a lot of factors. You just cannot estimate the lifespan of brake pads.
You can trash the car for the weekend on the race track and go through a set of these. Also if you are one of those guys who want to push their cars to the limit, you will also go through pads very frequently.
Also, the type of brake pads matters when it comes to how often to change brake pads. Carbon ceramic brake pads do not require change because this ceramic material is really tough and can go for ages.
Organic or semi-metallic brake pads, wear more often than others. Also, they are a lot cheaper than other brake pads. So, it depends much on your budget and your driving skill on how often to change brake pads.
If we want to roughly give an estimate, the average replacement interval for the brake pads is somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 miles more or less. You should respect this time frame if you don’t want the pads to get too worn out.
When pads get too worn out they would easily groove the rotors and instead of only replacing the pads, you will also have to replace the rotor as well. Something that can get really expensive for those who work on a tight budget.
But how you can tell that your brake pads need replacing? Well, that’s what we are going to learn in the following chapter.
How To Tell If You Need To Change Brake Pads?
Now as we covered how often to change brake pads, let’s now learn how to tell if you need to change the brake pads? What are the indications that this change is necessary if you want to continue driving safely? Let’s elaborate.
But if you are dealing with an older vehicle, you might not notice notifications like this and in this case, you will have to rely on audible information.
So, if you notice how the brakes squeal when you press them or they grind in the worst-case scenario. Then it is time to replace the pads or the pads and rotors together.
The next thing you would want to do is to perform a visual inspection of the brakes. Check the brake rotors for grooves. If the rotors have a lot of grooves, it means that you will have to replace them.
Now as we covered how often to change brake pads and how to check the pads for wear, let’s now learn more about the brake pad replacement.
Brake Pad Replacement
Now as we covered how often to change brake pads, let’s focus more on how to change brake pads. What tools you will need in order to do this job the right way?
Well, for this job you will need a regular set of wrenches that most people have. You will also need a special socket key to remove the wheels. And you will also need a tool to compress the brake caliper pistons.
The first thing you will need to do is to jack up the car in the air and remove the wheel, then the next step will require removing the bolts that are holding the brake pads and removing the old pads.
Next thing you will need to grease up the backplates on the new pads to prevent squeaking and then place them in place. The last thing will be compressing the caliper with the special tool to be able to slide the caliper into place. Lastly, tighten up the bolts that are holding the caliper and you will be good to go.
Cost To Change Brake Pads
As we covered how often to change brake pads, now we can discuss the cost to change brake pads. How much it will cost you to replace the brake pads on your car?
The answer to this question really depends much on what type of pads you want to get. The cheapest pads can cost under $25 for a set of these pads.
More expensive pads can cost about $60 per set. And frankly, I would recommend getting more expensive pads if you want to avoid having issues in the near future. Cheap pads can produce noises and they are not really that good.
If you do this at a shop, you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $150 to $250 for the front pads. Now let’s conclude this article about how often to change brake pads.
Brake Pads and Rotors: Facts You Need to Know
- Brake pads should be replaced every 25,000 to 65,000 miles while rotors typically should be changed from 30,000 to 70,000 miles depending on driving conditions and styles.
- Squeaking or squealing noise from brakes indicates that brake pads are near the end of their useful life.
- Grinding noise while braking means that brake pads need to be replaced immediately to avoid further damage to the rotors.
- Vibration when braking is a sign of warped rotors that may also cause uneven brake pad wear.
- Loss of performance when applying the brakes indicates worn-out brake pads or low brake fluid due to a leak.
- Brake warning lights on your dash indicate issues with your brake system, and a brake expert should diagnose them.
- The brake light on your dash can also indicate that your parking brake is engaged.
- Thin brake pads that are less than ¼ inch or 6.4 mm thick need replacement.
- Minor symptoms when your brake pads are getting towards their end of life can make diagnosis and repairs easy.
- Ignoring minor symptoms and continuing to drive with worn-out brake pads can lead to more damage and higher repair costs.
Conclusion To How Often To Change Brake Pads
In this article, we covered quite a bit when it comes to the question of how often to change brake pads. First, we learned the basics of brake pads and we learned the main task of these components.
Then we learned the different types of brake pads that are out there. There are cheap and expensive ones, so it is up to you to plan your budget when it comes to spending on these components.
After that, we covered the symptoms that will be noticeable when you deal with bad brake pads and how to detect them. Lastly, we focused on replacing brake pads and the cost involved in this task.
F.A.Q For How Often To Change Brake Pads
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
How To Check Brake Pads
You can check brake pads by doing a visual inspection on them. Check the condition of the rotor and the pad and see how much meat the pad has. If the pad wear really big and you only have a fraction of an inch left, then these pads are done and need replacing.
How Much Are Brake Pads
New brake pads on average are about $25 for a pair. These parts are relatively inexpensive to replace on your car, this is why you often change brake pads if you don’t want to struggle with your brakes and destroy the rotors.
How Much To Replace Brake Pads
On average, you can expect to pay about $150 for the front pads if you decide to do this at a shop. If you decide on doing this at home, you will get this problem sorted out for less than $50.
When To Replace Brake Pads
So, how often to change the brake pads? Well, this really depends much on the condition of the brake pads. If they are not worn out you don’t have to replace them. Replace them when they are worn out and also resurface the rotors if you want the new pads to work well with the rotor.
How Long Does It Take To Change Brakes
It usually takes about 1 to 2 hours if you do this at a shop. Sometimes even less. If you do this at home and you don’t have the experience, you can expect to be stuck there for more than 6 hours to get everything nice and sorted out.
How Long Do Brake Pads Last
On average, brake pads last between 20,000 to 30,000 miles. But it also depends much on the driving style you have. If you do a lot of hard braking, you can expect to wear them down much sooner.