How Often Should You Change Your Brake Pads?

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There’s a sense in which your brake pads are designed to wear out. However, while you want to be sure that you aren’t driving with worn pads, you also don’t want to incur needless expense, so how can you tell when it’s time to contact your dealer for replacements?

How Many Miles?

The lifetime of your pads depends on how often you use them. Received wisdom says that they usually last for between 25,000 and 70,000 miles, but within this wide range, there are a number of other factors to take into account.

How Do You Drive?

The lifespan of the pads is affected by the type of journey that you take. Taking many short trips in the car will cause more wear on the braking system and driving in heavy stop-start traffic means that you rely on the brakes more and will burn through them quicker. Towing heavy loads or carrying extra weight in the car will also cause the pads to wear down in less time.

It’s also helpful to be honest about your driving habits when deciding how to schedule a pad replacement. Drivers who “ride the brakes” will wear them down more quickly, as will those who are prone to late and sudden braking. Using engine braking and taking your time to stop over a greater distance is safer and better driving practice, but it’ll also put less pressure on your pads.

Where Do You Drive?

Some environments are more likely to cause the pads to wear down than others. Hilly roads with steep downhill slopes mean more reliance on the brakes, and a shorter interval between pad replacements. Dusty or sandy roads will cause more corrosion, while extremely warm temperatures exacerbate the heat caused by the friction of braking.

Conversely, cold or damp conditions will make the surfaces in your braking system more slippery, requiring you to apply more pressure when you brake, and wearing down the pads that way.

Signs That It’s Time to Contact Your Dealer

If you pick up on any of the following signs when you brake, your pads have worn down and you should schedule a replacement right away:

  • Screeching or squealing
  • A low rumbling sound
  • Soggy or unresponsive brakes
  • Vibrations through the brake pedal

Pads and shoes are a crucial part of your car’s most fundamental safety system and prevent expensive damage to other braking components, so it’s essential to make sure that they’re in the best condition all year long.


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