Can anyone really tell how long brake pads last? Absolutely not. Every driver has different driving skills and technique, just the same as roads are not built identically. These variations affect brake performance. How you accelerate and stop, long drives and short trips, all of these contribute to how you burn your brake pads.
If you want to find out how long do brake pads last, read on further. A number of suggestions below are also presented in detail for you to get a grasp on when to consider having your brake pads checked and replaced.
- What are brake pads for?
- How long do brake pads last?
- What affects the lifespan of brake pads?
- Types of brake pads
- When to replace your brake pads
- How to make your brake pads last longer
What are brake pads for?
Imagine driving down the road at a relatively slow pace. As you continue cruising slowly, your vehicle picks up speed. This is where your brakes come to use. As you step in the lever, the pads clamp the rotor slowing down the rotation of the wheel.
Having your brake pads regularly checked and replaced is practically equivalent to driving safely. Banking on the same reason, maintaining effective brake pads saves you additional expense on calipers, rotors and discs.
How long do brake pads last?
Usually, mechanics and manufacturers would give a 30,000 to 70,000 miles (48,280 to 112,654 kilometers) lifespan for brand new brake pads. However, some may last longer or, unfortunately, way shorter. It all depends on how you drive.
Still, there are other various factors that may affect your brake pads’ wear. To further understand why brake pads’ performance seems to be quite confusing, I’ll present certain reasons below.
What affects the lifespan of brake pads?
Certain car components, like transmission, acceleration, engine performance, and so on can affect how long your brake pads last. Though the average is 30,000 to 50,000 miles, knowing the exact number is completely impossible.
Manual transmission vehicles, as well automatic transmissions, can affect your brake pads in a very different way. Usually, brake pads of a manual transmission vehicle would last longer than an automatic one. On the other hand, manual transmission drivers who tend to drive faster, wear their brake pads earlier. That is if you don’t drive too fast.
Brake pads come in different types with relatively varying performance levels. Then again, a complex system of slowing the vehicle’s tire rotation equally affects the pads lifespan. Add to it friction, pressure, and heat, one would indeed be confused and bewildered on how brakes work.
Types of brake pads
There are essentially four types of brake pads: organic, semi-metallic, metallic, and synthetic. Each type has a different performance level, as well as characteristics. These varying characteristics contribute to the brake pads’ performance.
Read also: best brake pads for your car – A safe driving experience
First is organic brake pads. Organic pads are made from non-metallic fibers. These fibers are bonded into a composite material which are then treated with graphite, powdered metals and even nutshells. This process develops and improves the pads’ friction.
A subsequent advantage and disadvantage sticks to an organic pad. Want superior stopping power? Organic pads are the best there are. However, this also translates into more wear on your pads, meaning shorter life and more expenses.
If you are inclined into spending less for brake pads replacement, semi-metallic pads might do the job or you. Mixing organic materials to metal, this process makes semi-metallic pads harder.
The harder your pads are, the longer they last. The longer they last, the lesser instances you need them replaced. However, since metals are added to organic materials, it’s stopping power is reduced.
Metallic brake pads are practically obsolete nowadays. When semi-metallic and organic pads came into the picture, metallic pads, which were preferably used for racing vehicles before, were lost in the market. These pads were made by bonding various metals through pressure.
Synthetic pads, or most commonly called ceramic pads, are composed of both non-organic and non-metallic materials. They are usually made up of aramid fibers and fiberglass. This composition makes synthetic pads long lasting, lightweight, and strong.
Yes, ceramic pads practically last longer than other brake pads. Due to this longer lifespan, most cars nowadays are equipped with ceramic brake pads. However, there indeed is a downside. Since it is made harder to last longer, the pads’ stopping power is compromised.
When to replace your brake pads
Having a very good driving style doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no need for you to regularly check the condition of your brake pads. On the other hand, having it regularly checked could benefit you a lot in brake maintenance, saving you a lot of money in discs, calipers, and rotors.
Keeping track of the mileage or distance traveled says too little when you should change your brake pads. Sometimes the car itself might tell you you’re scheduled for a brake pad replacement. Check out some signs saying you need to have your pads replaced.
Squealing or screeching noise
Every brake pad is equipped with a wear indicator, a metallic clip strategically placed in your pad. This metal indicator produces a screeching or squealing noise continuously every time you step on your brakes, telling you to have your brake pads changed.
Similarly, dust and the pads worn components may also cause irritating sounds when the brakes are applied. At this point, you must be very observant of these noises. If the screeching sounds disappear after a few brakes, your pads might just need cleaning.
Thin brake pads
Regularly checking on your brake pads visually wouldn’t hurt a bit, but rather benefit you a lot. Thin brake pads can be easily seen if you look through your tire spokes, especially if you’re using the car regularly.
Though somewhat far from reaching the metallic clip that indicates a pad replacement, it will be advisable to have your pads replaced when you see them compressed and visually thin (about ¼ inch thick).
Metallic grinding noise
Imagine you’re left alone in the woods, cold. You try to make fire by rubbing wood to wood. Before you can even produce fire, a shallow hole is already visible in your wood, made by continuous rotation and rubbing.
Now imagine this on your brakes, metal grinding metal. When you hear this, you’re in trouble. Most probably, your brake pads are completely worn out and your caliper is eating up your rotor.
Car manufacturers nowadays try to make it easier for owners in maintaining their vehicles. Most cars now are equipped with brake pad sensors. These indicators, strategically placed in the dashboard, light up whenever your brake pads are running thin and need to be replaced.
Regularly checking your brake pads adds longevity to your entire brake system, not to mention its effect on safety. Usually, manufacturers try to think of ways in reminding you, not only to have your brake pads checked, but the complete vehicle itself. In the same sense, a trusted mechanic can always give sound advice when to have your pads replaced.
How to make your brake pads last longer
Here are the best tips and tricks that you can employ to ensure that your brake pads are in peak condition for as long as possible, and make them last for much longer:
Don’t drive too fast
If you enjoy driving fast, expect your brake pads to wear fast as well. The faster you go, the more pressure you apply on the brakes. Moreso, letting the car fly not only burns more gas, but at the same time, wears your pads quickly, both making you spend more.
Whether you’re financially conscious, thrift, cheap, or just simply wants to save for the future, starting with a well maintained brake pad is a good start. Here are more essential tips in saving on maintenance expenses.
Ease up on your brakes
Some drivers, usually beginners, tend to put a lot of pressure on the brake pedal when driving down a steep decline. This not only increases wear on your brake pads, but also tends to stick the pads to the rotor once overheated. Downshifting is the most likely technique in easing up pressure on the brakes.
Like clutch driving, riding the brake pedal is a no-no in driving. Brake pads act the same to clutch pressure plates, it both wears the part. At the same time, it sends a confusing reaction to the driver behind you, trying to figure out if you’re stopping or not.
Don’t drive with a heavy load
Fond of driving around, having your friends or family with you? This seems nice, of course. Then again, talking about brake pads, driving fully loaded makes you apply more pressure on your brakes.
Use “Engine Braking”
Ever imagined slowing your car without applying brakes? This is called “engine braking”. Though this may not totally put your car at a halt, it eventually slows it down, making you ease up on your brakes. Significantly applying lesser pressure on your brakes makes it last longer.
Whether you’re a fast burner or an easy rider, brake pads are one thing you must never take for granted. Having your brake pads checked regularly and maintained well not only saves a lot of money but keeps you safe as well.
Paying good attention not only to your brakes but to the car as a whole will help you have your vehicle in superb and reliable condition for a long time, rather than relying basically on the car’s manuals, and manufacturers’ description.