Can you imagine attempting to drive a car without brakes? Your braking system is vitally important as it prevents you from getting into an accident every time you need to stop. Without brakes, your car would be impossible to drive. Your brake pads are one of the main components of your brake system, so how long should brake pads last? It depends on your specific vehicle and driving habits, but anywhere from 20,000 to 70,000 miles is common. In this article we will give you some tips to extend the life of your brake pads as well as tell you how to recognize when your pads need replacing.

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How Long Do Brake Pads Last?

Many people ask, “How long do brakes last?” On average, you can expect your brake pads to last around 40,000 miles. Your driving style as well as the make and model of your vehicle all have a major impact on your brake pad life. If you drive fast or make frequent short trips, then you might be replacing your pads as soon as 20,000 miles. However, with slower driving and longer trips, your pads might last you up to 70,000 miles.

Each time you press the brake pedal, your brake calipers squeeze the pads against your brake rotors. This intense friction causes both the pads and calipers to wear. Now you can understand why frequent braking shortens the lifespan of both your brake discs and pads. The faster you drive, the harder you must press the brake pedal to come to a stop. This constant friction causes major wear on your pads and will lead to more frequent brake service requirements. In addition, your front brake pads typically need replacing more often than your rear pads because the front ones use more stopping force.


Factors That Affect The Overall Lifespan Of Your Brake Pads

We have already mentioned a couple of factors that affect how quickly your brake pads wear, but we will dive into a little more detail here about several factors. Here are the things that will affect the amount of wear that your brake system experiences.


  • Types Of Brake Pads

Brake pads are made of many different materials, and the composition of your pads has a big effect on how quickly they wear. Some materials are much harder than others, thus they are more resistant to the constant friction. Here are some of the most common brake pad material types.

  • Semi-metallic pads
  • Ceramic pads
  • Organic pads

There are pros and cons to each type of pad, and the longevity of the pads differs between types. Organic brake pads are the type found on most new cars today. They are made of a mixture of materials like rubber, Kevlar, and fiberglass that are bound with a resin. These pads tend to be cheap, but they also wear more quickly. Ceramic brake pads are the hardest and most durable, although they are also the most expensive. They also do not perform the best under extreme temperatures. Semi-metallic pads provide a great combination of performance and cost. However, they tend to produce much more dust and noise than the other types. Make sure that you assess all your options and discuss it with your mechanic when it comes time to purchase your next set of new brake pads.


  • Driving Habits

The way you drive plays a large role in how quickly your pads will need to be replaced. If you drive fast and constantly need to slam on your brakes, then you will burn right through your pads. Similarly, if you use your brake pedal as a foot rest, then your pads will not last long. However, if you drive slowly and ease on your brakes when necessary, then they should last you for years to come.


  • Automatic/Manual Transmission

Believe it or not, the type of transmission that your car has can affect the lifespan of your brake pads! With a manual transmission, you can use your engine to slow your car instead of always using your brakes. Obviously, you will still need to hit your brakes at times, but this engine braking can help add more time in between pad replacements.


  • City, Rural & Freeway Driving

Not only do your driving habits affect your brake pad life, but your driving conditions have an effect as well. If you live in a big city that requires constant stop-and-go, then your pads will wear out more quickly. However, if you drive mostly on the freeway or rural highways that require little stopping, then your pads will last much longer.


How To Extend The Lifespan Of Your Brake Pads

Nobody likes heading to the dealership for brake repairs, so how do you make sure that your brake components last as long as possible? Here are some tips you should follow.


  • Engine Braking

This tip is only for those of you who have a car with a manual transmission. Whenever possible, you should downshift and use engine braking to slow your vehicle instead of using the brakes. Note that you should not do this if your vehicle has an automatic transmission!


  • Weight Reduction

The heavier your car, the more friction is required to stop it. Remove as much unneeded weight from the vehicle as possible. If you have unnecessary tools or gadgets in the vehicle, take them out and leave those at home. The lighter your vehicle, the less stress will be placed on your brakes.


  • Don’t Ride Your Brake Pedal

If you are one of those people who ride around with your foot constantly on the brake pedal, stop it! This eats away at your brake pads and produces unnecessary heat which can lead to brake fade and cause your stopping power to be greatly reduced.


  • Slow Down

The faster you drive, the harder your brake pads must work to stop your vehicle. Driving slower will help your pads last longer and save you money on both gas and brake service!


Signs That It’s Time To Replace Your Brake Pads

Even if you follow all the tips laid out above, you will eventually need to replace your brake pads. So, how do you know when to replace brake pads? Here are some warning signs that you can watch for to determine when to replace your pads.


  • Squeaking Sounds Coming From Your Brakes

If you notice a squeaking or squealing noise coming from your brakes, then you should head down to your local service center to have them inspected. Many pads include a wear indicator that produces this sound when the pads get too thin. 


  • Metallic Grinding/Vibration While Braking

If you hear a grinding sound when you press the brake pedal, you may have waited too late! The metal backing plate of your pads may be rubbing directly against your rotors already. You should have your brakes inspected immediately!


  • It Takes Longer To Come To A Complete Stop

If you notice that your car does not stop quite like it used to, then head on down to your local mechanic. Your pads might be so worn that they are not able to produce the same amount of friction that they once did. This can be a dangerous situation, so make sure you address it right away.


  • Brake Pads Are A Quarter-Inch Or Less In Thickness

If the friction material in your pads is less than one-quarter of an inch thick, then the pads should be replaced. Many auto repair shops will inspect the thickness of your pads at each oil change and advise you when the pads get too thin.


  • Brake Warning Light Comes On

Some high-end vehicles are equipped with sensors inside the pads that will cause an indicator light to illuminate when the pads need replacing. If you notice that your brake light illuminates, then head on down to your repair shop. They can inspect everything for you and make sure that your car is ready for the road.


The Bottom Line

Your brake pads are an extremely important part of your vehicle, and you should always make sure that they are replaced on time. You can refer to your owner’s manual for information on your specific vehicle, but you should expect your pads to last around 40,000 miles under normal driving conditions. If you hear any squealing or grinding, then take your car to your mechanic right away to get those pads replaced!

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How often do brake pads need to be replaced?

If you are wondering how often to change brake pads, there is no set interval for how often they should be replaced. The answer is whenever they need it. On average, brake pads need replacement about every 40,000 miles. Depending on your vehicle, driving habits, and brake pad material, you might need to replace them every 20,000 miles or they could last up to 70,000 miles.

How many miles should a set of brake pads last?

If you are wondering, “How many miles do brake pads last,” then you should know that a set of brake pads should last around 40,000 miles. If you have organic pads and do a lot of stopping, then they may only last about 20,000 miles. Conversely, ceramic pads and mostly highway driving might net you 70,000 miles or more on your pads.

How do I know when my brake pads need changing?

So, how do you know when to change brake pads? You will likely hear a squealing or squeaking noise when you press the pedal. If you hear a grinding noise, then you definitely need to check your pads! You could also see a brake warning light illuminated on your dashboard.

Why do my brake pads wear out quickly?

Brake pads wear more quickly when you drive faster, perform heavy braking, or ride with your foot on the brake pedal. You should avoid these things if you want your pads to last longer.

What are the benefits of having new brake pads?

Your car will come to a stop in a shorter distance and there is less stress on the other components of your braking system. New brake pads can also produce less heat which extends the life of your brake fluid and overall system.

How do you change brake pads?

Brake pad replacement is not a complicated task if you have some mechanical experience. You will need to remove each wheel and then remove the caliper. Press the caliper piston back into the caliper and remove the brake pads. Insert the new pads, and reinstall the caliper over the rotor. Gently press the brake pedal a few times until the new pads are properly seated, and you are ready to go!

How much does a full set of brake pads cost?

Thankfully, the replacement cost for brake pads is not overly expensive. On some vehicles, you can replace the front pads for around $120 including parts and labor. On high-end vehicles, it might cost you $300 or more for the replacement. Not everyone has a few hundred dollars sitting around for a car repair, so you could always sell your vehicle to Auto Wranglers instead. We buy cars throughout the country in all conditions, and we will make you a cash offer on yours too!