When to Replace Brake Pads on Your Car


Unlike many mechanical issues that can arise out of nowhere, your brake pads will usually signal when their time is up. Ignoring the screeching noises when you hit the brakes though, can affect not only your safety, but also your pocketbook. Here is some useful information when it comes to brake pads and when they should be replaced.

Brake Pads Make Noises When Worn

Worn down brake pads make a distinctive noise when they need to be replaced. One may hear a screeching or squealing noise that doesn’t go away even when the brake pedal is released. Another sound that might also be heard is a grumbling or grinding noise when braking. These symptoms indicate that it is time to replace your brake pads and possibly your rotors too.

When the pads wear thin, it can cause a metal-on-metal scenario as the caliper rubs against the rotor. Rotors that are damaged may cause the steering wheel to vibrate or there may be a pulsing sensation when braking.

Damaged rotors or calipers are almost a certain sign the pads have worn down. The caliper is one of the most important parts of the brake assembly. It works as a clamp against the rotor when the brakes are applied. The brake pads are positioned in the caliper.

When the pads have thinned out, a metal tab fastened to the pad assembly alerts drivers. The tab will rub against the rotor as the pads wear down, causing a squealing sound when the brakes are applied.

The squeal can become more piercing the longer you wait to get this looked at by a mechanic. You can assume about 10 percent of their life is remaining from the first indication. Waiting too long may cause the brakes to begin to grind.

How to Replace Brake Pads

Many experts believe it is difficult to determine how often brake pads should be replaced, because they can wear out faster or slower based on how you drive the car, the weight of the vehicle, road conditions and driving frequency. It is recommended to have the brake pads checked at every oil change.

The lifespan of a brake pad depends on multiple factors, including how and where you drive. A hot-footed teenager who races from stoplight to stoplight will need brakes more often than his grandmother might driving on the highway, even though they travel the same distance in the same car.

How Much Do New Brake Pads Cost?

The costs of brake pads can vary greatly, depending on the quality and type they are — organic, semi-metallic or ceramic. Generally, less expensive pads don’t last as long. New pads and a rotor resurfacing can usually run between $300 to $350, which includes parts and labor. Costs can climb up between $400 and $800 to replace pads on luxury vehicles.

The best way to avoid an expensive repair is to address brake problems as soon as they occur. When the friction material from the brake pads wears completely away, there is nothing left but the metal plate against the rotor, which has very little stopping power and generates a tremendous amount of heat. Excessive heat can destroy other, more expensive components of your brake system, including your rotors, calipers, brake lines and wheel bearings. With regular brake inspections, these additional repairs are avoidable.


For more information about brake pads, or to have yours inspected, don’t hesitate to contact us with the link below for more information!

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2 Responses to When to Replace Brake Pads on Your Car

  1. I have started hearing the familiar faint squealing noise from my brakes. I know that it means that the pads need to be replaced. However, I am now thinking about the brake lines or hoses. How often should those be checked or replaced?

  2. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that grinding noises when braking means your pads or rotors could need replacement. I tend to have loud music playing while I drive, so I don’t really hear the noises my car is making, but I did feel a kind of grinding sensation when I had to slow down more quickly than usual this morning. I think it’s because the brakes are worn, so I’ll definitely look into taking it in to have those replaced. Thanks for the great post!

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