Photo by Paul Volkmer
Are you asking the question: how long do brake pads last? Our helpful guide here has all the answers you need to remember.
According to the U.S. DOT, 22% of crashes where the critical reason for a crash was a vehicle had to do with having brake-related problems. While we might not think about our brake system that often, we are putting a lot of trust into it every time we step into our vehicles.
Even if you treat your brake system with the utmost care, brakes have a limited lifespan. They wear out over time and stop working as well as they once did.
How long do brake pads last? How do you know if you need to replace them?
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
Why Brake Pads Wear Down
When you push the brake pedal in your car, disc brakes reduce your speed and allow you to stop through the use of brake calipers. These are basically like adjustable clamps. They squeeze your brake pads against the rotors, which are round metal discs.
Pushing down on the brake pedal leads the calipers to clamp on the brake pads. This also squeezes the rotors. This process transfers your car’s kinetic energy into heat (or thermal energy) through friction.
What allows you to cut your speed and stop your car is this friction.
However, as the rotors and pads rub against one another, both of them slowly wear down over time. When you see black dust on car wheels occasionally, this is the residue from the steel rotor and brake pad material that has been worn off.
Your car’s disc-braking system cannot function properly without your brake pads. It’s therefore critical for your safety that they are in good condition.
How Long Do Brake Pads Last?
In general, a run-of-the-mill brake pad will be engineered to last for roughly 50,000 miles. However, there are environmental, use, and driving styles factors that can impact how long they last in reality.
Like many types of auto products, there is a range of price and quality when it comes to brake pads. Bargain brake pads are affordable but less durable, while performance-oriented brake pads allow for a lot more use with a higher price tag.
The manufacturer of your vehicle will state how long the brake pads in your car are good for. You can find this information either on the manufacturer’s website or in the owner’s manual of your vehicle.
You can find out how long aftermarket brake pads will last by looking at the box they came in. This information will be referred to as the “engineering lifespan.”
Signs You Need New Brake Pads
Properly timed brake pad replacement should be a priority in order to keep your brake system functioning smoothly. Out of all of the components of your brake system, you will likely be replacing the brake pads most often.
You Hear a Squealing Noise
These days, many brake pads are manufactured with “wear indicators.” These exist to make an unpleasant screeching sound when your brake pad is wearing down. These indicators are metal tabs that are usually located near the top of the brake pad.
These indicators work because they start to scrape against your rotor when the pad has worn down. If you here an unpleasant grating noise when you are driving, it means that you’re likely at the end of your brake pad lifespan.
It Takes Longer to Fully Stop the Car Than It Used To
Have you noticed that it seems to take longer to bring your car to a full stop than it used to?
When this occurs, it’s known as “brake fade.” Typically, this happens as a result of applying the brakes over a long distance without fully stopping the car. You might need to do this occasionally, like when you’re driving on a windy road or down a steep mountain, but it’s not something you want to do often if you can avoid it.
If you do practice this maneuver relatively often, for example, if you live in a hilly area where you are frequently driving downhill, you will likely start to experience brake fade over time.
The reason this happens is that both the brake pads and rotors heat up when they are making contact for an uninterrupted and long period of time. This impacts their ability to generate friction over time, which is a necessary component of how your brake system works.
You Hear a Clicking Noise
If you hear a clicking noise when you drive, it might be because the devices that hold your brake pad steady have become loose. When this happens, they’ll start to rattle and make a clicking noise when the brake pedal is released or pushed.
The Brake Pedal Vibrates When Pressed
If your brake pedal is pulsating, it can compromise your ability to brake safely.
This phenomenon occurs when the binding resin on your brake pads gets distributed unevenly. Often the result of your brake pads getting overheated, this issue is referred to as “glazing” by mechanics and indicates that it’s time to replace your brake pads.
When You Brake, The Nose of Your Car Pulls to One Side
Lastly, you might one day notice that the nose of your car is pulling to one side when you push down on the brake pedal. This indicates that one brake pad is wearing faster than the other.
You’ll want to get this looked at sooner rather than later, as it can put unnecessary stress on your steering rack, steering knuckles, wheel bearings, and ball joints.
There are a few other reasons this can occur. A faulty wheel bearing, uneven tire pressure, or a malfunctioning brake caliper could also be the cause.
Brake Pad Replacement: Is It Time For You to Get New Brake Pads?
You might not start to wonder “how long do brake pads last?” until you start to notice that something seems a little off with your brakes. Whether it’s a squeaking sound, a clicking sound, or another sign you need new brake pads, it’s always better to get your brake system looked at sooner rather than later.
Is it time for your to replace your brake pads? Click here to get a free quote!