How do i know when to replace brake pads with new ones?

Article by Christian A., on July 30, 2018

Just like any part or component of a vehicle, the brake pads also worn out and have to be replaced. After all brakes are what makes the vehicle stop, making them a vital safety element of any car. Thus, if you are vehicle owner or driver, it is important to know when old brake pads have to be replaced by new ones.

There are number of factors that determine the longevity of brake pads: driving habits, environment, material and brake pad harshness. In terms of driving habits, smooth, gradual braking can make brake pads last longer, while sudden braking can cause the pads to wear down faster. Moreover, frequent cruising on highways where braking isn't really frequent increases the life span of brake pads, while driving on areas where braking is much needed can shorten it.

Of course, the vehicle driver or owner needs to be alert when the time comes to replace the brake pads. In general, brake pads are replaced for every 35,000 miles. Less durable pads have to be replaced after 25,000 miles, while there are those that can last much longer than 50,000 miles. Of course, the figure differs for every vehicle, which is why the driver or owner needs to carefully read the manual. Owner’s manuals usually say when the brake pads have to be replaced.

Nonetheless, due to the abovementioned factors, the brake pads might wear out much earlier than their estimated lifespan. There are some tell-tale signs that your brake pads are waiting to be replaced with new ones.

For instance, a vehicle owner may visually check the brake pads just by looking through the spaces between the wheel spokes. Typically, at least around 1/4 inch of brake pad should be pressing against a metal rotor. When the pad is less than this thickness, it may be time to replace it.

It may also be time to replace the brake pads when a grinding or screeching noise is heard when the brakes are applied. This sound is generated by a small metal shim called an indicator, serving a warning that it is now time to replace the pads.

When the brake pads are worn down, the disc and the caliper would rub on each other, causing a loud metallic sound. This is a very bad sign as the brake pads might be beyond replacement. So, in the first time that this grinding noise is heard, the owner needs to have the pads replaced.

Of course, there are other braking components that needed to be looked to ensure that the stopping power of a vehicle isn't compromised. For instance, if the brake pedal is vibrating or pulsating, the rotors could have been warped. When the brakes aren’t as responsive or the brake pedal is lower than usual, there could be a leak in the braking system (a brake fluid leak or air leak in the brake hose).

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