The brakes are one of the most important components of a car. However, do you know how long brake pads last and when to replace them? Read on to discover.
Brakes are a car’s safety feature which provides both the driver and the passengers with not only the safety but also the confidence when travelling in the car. If you feel that your brakes are not able to successfully implement the tasks of stopping your car, especially in case of emergency, it might be the time for you to replace the brake pads. Nevertheless, how long do brake pads last? When should you change them? This article is going to help you answer these questions.
Firstly, we need to know why brake pads wear. Disc slowly brakes and squeeze the brake pads (hockey pucks sawed in half) to stop your car with brake callipers (large adjustable clamps). When the brake pedal is pushed, the callipers will clamp down on the brake pads, which will squeeze the rotors and transform the kinetic energy into thermal energy, heat, through friction. The friction will cut the speed and stop the car. When rubbing against the rotors, the brake pads both gradually wear down. The black dust which appears on the wheels is the residue from the steel rotor and pad material that have worn down. Since brake pads are a crucial part of the car’s disc-braking system, you must make sure that they are always in good condition.
New vs worn brake pads
When do you need to replace the brake pads?
A simple brake pad replacement can become a much more expensive and more complicated brake job if you ignore the brake issues. There are some very clear indications that the brake pads need replacing. The first one is the sound. When the brake pads need to be replaced, a slim metal strip in the pads will create a squeal when the brakes are applied. When the windows are closed, the noise is audible; however, it might be difficult to be heard due to other outside noise or loud music.
If a deeper or scraping grinding noise is heard, the brake pads might have worn down to their metal backing plates which are being directly squeezed against the steel brake disks. This can significantly reduce the stopping power and will not properly slow the vehicle. If this situation continues for a long period of time, your brakes discs can be destroyed and the brakes system can entirely fail.
Another way to check whether the brake pads need replacing or not is to visually check. Checking the wheel spokes, you will be able to notice the outboard brake pad. Make sure that at least a quarter inch of material is available on the brake pads. If there is less, there is a high likelihood that they need replacing. If you cannot notice the pad by just checking the spokes, jack up the car, remove a front wheel and check if the brake pads have been worn down or not. A flashlight might be needed so that you can clearly see the pads. You should also check all the four brakes if possible.
You should check your brake pads regularly to see whether they need replacing or not.
Other signs of brake issues
You can also realize the brake issues through some other signs. If the brakes do not properly stop, the pedal feels mushy instead of firm or gradually sinks towards the floor, this might be air or water in the brake fluid, a failing brake master cylinder or a fluid leak in the system. If you notice any of these or see any liquid dropped behind your car when parked, it is time to bring your car to a reliable repair shop.
If your car is pulled to one side in braking, the following things might happen: the brake pads might be unevenly wearing down; a leak might be present in the brake line; the front suspension or steering might be experiencing an issue. If a pulsation or vibration is felt in the brake pedal during braking, your rotors are warped and need truing to be smoothened or even replacing.
The average lifespan of brake pads is around 50,000 miles, which can vary depending on the environmental factors, road conditions, driving styles, etc. This means that in general condition, you need to replace your brake pads after your car has covered about 50,000 miles. Performance-oriented brake pads usually do not last as long as the other ones since they trade longevity for enthusiastic driving. In the meanwhile, bargain brake pads usually sacrifice durability for affordability. The car’s owner can be notified of the brake pads’ longevity in the manual or on the automaker's official website. On the other hand, the longevity of the aftermarket brake pads is shown in its box.
This article provides you with the answer to the questions: “How long do the brake pads last?”, some of the reasons why they wear and when to replace them. Your brakes are one of the most important features of your car; therefore, it is necessary that you should regularly check if they still properly work. In this way, you can protect yourself and other passengers as well as saving a lot of money in the long run.