Most car owners know about brake pads. These are the money-saving material that stands between your rotors and drums, keeping them from rubbing together. How long do brake pads last, and is it time for a replacement? Here’s what you need to know.
Brake Pad Durability
On average, a brake pad lasts up to 50,000 miles. Some wear out in the 30,000-mile range due to frequent hard braking, usually in urban areas or constant mountain driving. On the other hand, you might go 80,000 miles on the same brake pads if your driving habits are ideal and your daily travel is easy.
The best guide to replacement timing is your owner’s manual. Beyond that, a good mechanic can confirm whether it’s needed. There are brake-related reasons that your pads might wear out too quickly. A mechanic should look for faulty brake calipers or air in the hydraulic brake lines.
Watch for These Signs of Brake Pad Wear
If your brake light comes on, you need to check on your pads and fluids. It’s probably one or the other. A few vehicles, particularly certain luxury ones, are adding a brake pad light to the dash, but most vehicles don’t have this yet.
Good brake pads have a wear indicator. This user-friendly feature causes a whining noise when its time to replace the pads. This has also been described as a squeaking, squealing or screeching noise. If you hear this often while braking during dry driving conditions, it’s time to get a brake inspection. If it’s raining, wait and see if it stops when the undercarriage is dry.
It’s important to remember that some brake pads may not have this feature. If that’s true, then the only way to know is to watch your mileage and get inspections.
If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, you can access the pads by removing the wheels. This should allow you to see them and to take measurements. If it is ¼ of any inch, it’s still good. At ⅛ of an inch, it needs to be replaced. If you are buying used cars, this is a good reason to get an independent inspection. It’s part of what is checked when determining which vehicles can be certified preowned cars Scottsdale.
If a driver misses the signs that new brake pads are needed, the pads may wear away and allow the metal parts to rub together. This can lead to a loud grinding noise. Some mechanics describe it as a low growl. This indicates extreme wear that will only get worse. Getting pads as quickly as possible could save you from the expense of replacing the rotors and the drums or discs.
Choosing the Best Materials for Your Brake Pads
If your mechanic is suggesting that you change materials, you should consult your owner’s manual and other sources to make sure that a different material will work well in your vehicle. Your Scottsdale Lexus dealer mechanic will tell you that it is best to stick with the original equipment manufacturer when replacing brake pads on a Lexus.
These common pads are made with embedded metallic fibers to reduce brake fade. They do not wear as long as ceramic pads.
The most expensive kind, ceramic pads are also expected to last longer and offer the best performance. They reduce brake dust and wick away heat.
Another alternative is non-metallic organic ones. These use organic fibers to handle friction. They wear faster than standard pads, but some people prefer how they quiet the brakes when stopping.
How to Protect your Brake Pads
To make your pads last longer, you may need to break some bad habits. Drivers who slam the brakes, making hard stops a regular occurrence, need to learn to brake earlier and more slowly. It is also a bad idea to use short stabs to the brake.
Leaving your car sitting in a garage or outdoors for a year or longer may lead to brake pad problems. If you must leave it, arrange to have it driven every few weeks just to keep the brake pads in shape.