How Long Do Brake Pads Last

logo by Editorial Staff | Posted on July 13th, 2022

Brake pads are worn down by friction to stop the wheel. When brake pads wear out, the wheel will not stop so smoothly. 

Your car may also shake or shudder when braking. You can tell if your brake pads need replacing because they will have a lot of material, so it’s time to take your car in for a safety check-up

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Brake pads are an important part of your vehicle that should never be ignored, and you know how long they last!

What are brake pads? What are brake shoes?

Two types of brakes are used on passenger cars: disc brakes and drum brakes. Both employ friction to slow your car, but there are some distinctions.

When the driver applies the brakes, “pads” of specifically developed bits of friction material made of biological, metallic, or ceramic substances are forced against a rotor or “disc.” The friction that results slows the vehicle. Disc brakes are standard on the front axles of all current passenger cars and many rear axles.

Drum brakes, like disc brake pads, employ friction material, but it is fastened to half-moon-shaped “shoes” that press against the interior of a drum when you foot on the brakes. The vehicle is slowed because of its friction with the drum. Drum brakes were once ubiquitous on all four-wheel locations but are now only found on the rear axle of modern vehicles and light trucks.

Pads and shoes both degrade with usage, so it’s critical to keep track of their condition by examining them regularly. Other components of the brake system, particularly the brake discs or drums, may be harmed if they may wear out before being replaced. Driving with worn brake pads or shoes can result in risky driving situations and typically costly repairs.

The Different Types of Brake Pads

Organic Brake Pads

Non-metallic fibers are used in constructing these brake pads (mostly fiberglass, rubber, and Kevlar). They are quiet and inexpensive, but they are only appropriate for average everyday driving and will not last very long.

Metallic Disc Brake Pads

The substance used to make these brake pads makes them long-lasting. Low-metallic brake pads can be noisy, but their endurance makes them preferable to organic ones.

Semi-metallic brake pads, formed of fused metal particles, provide exceptionally efficient braking performance, but their material quality may wear the brake discs down faster than other types.

Ceramic Disc Brake Pads

These are the most durable of many brake pads. In addition, they are far more resistant to wear, with ceramic being extremely durable and resistant to various temperatures.

Ceramic brake pads are great for consumers seeking superior braking performance and longevity, but they are not cheap.

What Are Brake Pads Used For?

Braking pads are only one component of your vehicle’s disc brake system. When you press the brake pedal, the brake pads grip both sides of the brake discs, which spin with the wheels as you drive. The ensuing friction reduces the wheel speed and eventually halts the vehicle. Unfortunately, that friction wears down your brake pads over time.

Your vehicle has two sets of brakes: front brake pads and discs and rear brake drums and shoes. Both brakes must function correctly for your vehicle to have full braking force.

How much longer do rear brakes last than front brakes? Brake shoes last around 35,000 miles; however, wear rates might vary based on the thickness of the brake shoes, your driving and braking habits, and damage to other brake system components.

How do brake pads function?

Understanding how brake pads operate is one aspect of determining how long they will last. You’re undoubtedly aware they’re mostly responsible for bringing your Kia car to a halt, but how do they do it?

First, let’s talk about what they’re composed of. Brake pads are classified into three categories. Organic and Kevlar brake pads are occasionally used in high-performance automobiles. On the other hand, metallic brake pads are the most often used in today’s market. This is because they are sensitive enough for daily driving and have a longer lifespan than the other kinds.

Brake pads are a component of a bigger system that includes rotors and calipers. When you press down on the pedal, the calipers are squeezed, and the brake pad is pushed up against the rotor, which rotates with the wheel. This causes a lot of friction, slows your wheels’ spinning, and eventually puts your Kia to a halt.

Why Do Brake Pads Fail?

The answer is straightforward:


Remember that the friction between the braking pad and the brake rotor causes your car to slow down. And when the brake pads repeatedly brush against the rotors, they gradually wear away.

It should be noted that rotor wear occurs far more slowly than brake pad wear. So if you’ve spotted black dust on your car’s wheels, it’s most likely brake dust leftover from your braking pad, not your rotors.

Factors Affecting Brake Pad Life

Pad material, driving conditions, vehicle type, load, and personal driving style all influence average brake pad life. Here are several factors that influence how long brake pads last.

  • Driving in locations that need a lot of braking, such as mountain roads, or in places with a lot of stops, such as in town or stop-and-go traffic, will wear down the brakes faster since they suffer more friction and heat.
  • Larger, heavier cars often have harder brake pads since they require more assistance slowing and stopping something with such high velocity. Vehicles with significant weight, such as semi-trucks, normally have the same or greater brake pad lifespan than road vehicles. Still, a passenger vehicle regularly hauling huge loads will wear out the brake pads considerably sooner.
  • Drivers who handle the brake and gas pedals with both feet have a propensity to “ride” the brakes with their left foot. As a result, the brake pad material wears out faster.
  • Performance cars require superior brake pads since they frequently drive at the vehicle’s limits, swiftly accelerating and decelerating. In addition, drivers bringing standard street pads to a track day or autocross event may chew through the pads after a few events, as street pads are not designed to be used for repeated hard stops.
  • Drivers that follow other vehicles too closely wear their brake pads down faster than more patient drivers. Because of the following narrow distance, they have less time to respond, resulting in more frequent and sudden braking.
  • Smooth, consistent braking extends the life of the brake pads. It will also protect your other braking system components from excessive wear.
  • Ceramic pads have the greatest life in general. Semi-metallic pads are the next best option, while organic pads often have the shortest lifespan.
  • If the ABS (anti-lock braking system) activates, it shortens the braking distance as intended but may significantly increase pad wear on the rear brakes.
  • When you stop, the car’s weight goes to the front axle. This places a greater braking duty on the front brakes, typically bigger and wear faster. A proportioning valve is a mechanism that balances the front-to-back braking bias.
  • In early automobiles, the proportioning valve is a mechanical mechanism. Newer ABS-equipped automobiles utilize an electronic proportioning valve to transfer extra braking power to the back, with ABS ready to intervene if the rear brakes lock up.

What happens when the brake pads/shoes fail?

When you apply the brakes on your car, a little friction material is worn off the pads and shoes.

The friction substance will thin down with time. However, if the pads or shoes are not changed, the friction material will wear away completely, revealing the steel bits that kept the material in place.

When these steel fragments contact the discs or drums, they cause extremely lengthy braking distances and damage to the discs and drums.

To determine whether to change brake pads or shoes, look for the following indicators:

1. Noises such as squealing or screaming

If a vehicle’s brake pads contain wear indications, a motorist may hear screaming, screeching, or whining sounds when the brakes are used. A tiny metal attachment produces this sound on the brake pad backing plate specifically designed for this function.

Wear indicators function the same way running your fingers across a chalkboard does when you hear it when braking frequently; it’s time to take your automobile to a brake specialist for a checkup. Keep in mind that not all brake pads have this capability, so don’t rely just on sound to determine the state of your brakes.

The pads may produce a similar screaming sound when brakes are subjected to wet, damp circumstances, such as after a rainstorm. If a sound goes away after the first few times you use your brakes, it’s a solid indication that there was only a little moisture on the brake pads or shoes and not that they need to be changed.

2. Brake pad thickness of less than a quarter inch

On disc brakes, you may also physically examine your brake pads to see if they need to be replaced; however, you may need to remove the wheels.

When you look down on the brake assembly or “caliper” that holds the brake pads, you should see the brake pads squeezed against the brake rotor. Consider getting your brakes tested if the friction material on the pad or shoe is less than 14 inches thick (about seven millimeters), especially if it’s been a long time since your previous check.

3. Growling and grinding with a deep metallic tone

If you hear a deep, low noise that sounds like metal grinding or a rumbling growl, it might indicate that your brake pads are worn away, and the backing plates of your brake pads or shoes are making contact with the discs or drums.

Because this form of metal-on-metal contact can quickly cause more damage to your braking system, take your car to a service facility as soon as possible if you hear this type of noise.

4. Lights that indicate

Some automobiles include a dashboard indicator light that shows when it’s time to change the brake pads. Check your owner’s handbook to discover if your car has a low-pad warning system.

Keep in mind that if the light illuminates, you’ll need to have your mechanic repair the warning sensors and the brake pads.

How to make your brake pads last longer.

1. Reduce your speed.

Driving fast and braking quickly go together like peanut butter and jelly. Fast braking causes a lot of friction, which wears down your brake pads and shortens their lifespan. Driving quickly also consumes more petrol, which will also wear out your budget!

Saving money is a win-win situation in anyone’s book. So, in addition to the brake pad-saving ideas provided here, look at our free online maintenance plan to keep the rest of your bike running smoothly.

2. Do not let your brakes squeal.

Are you making your way down a steep hill? Don’t depress the brake pedal all the way. Instead, downshift (if you drive a manual) to reduce your roll and practice the skill of coasting (if you drive an automatic).

Are you feeling sluggish? The purpose of the brake pedal is to stop your automobile, not to serve as a footrest. Unfortunately, this is something that people do. And, sure, cycling the brake pedal may do havoc on your brake pads, reducing their lifespan! It also confuses traffic behind you since pushing the pedal, no matter how softly, activates your brake lights. Instead, place your foot on the far left floorboard.

3. Shed some pounds

If at all feasible, lose weight. It’s not you; it’s your automobile! When hauling a hefty weight, your brake pads must work harder to stop your car. Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent this, such as when you’re driving around with friends or moving furniture.

However, there are situations when you can prevent it! Remove everything unnecessary from your trunk, backseat, and roof load carrier to give your brakes a well-deserved rest. With less weight, you may be able to enhance your fuel efficiency as well!

4. Make use of “engine braking.”

Take your foot off the accelerator if you notice that you may need to brake soon, whether because of a red light or heavy traffic. This disengages the engine and reduces the stress on your brakes when you need to stop. “Engine braking,” as it’s known, aids in slowing your vehicle without braking. This results in reduced wear and heat on your brake pads and system!

When should you change your brake pads?

No matter how carefully you drive and care for your brake pads, they will need to be replaced at some time. However, replacing your brake pads on time might save you money!


Editorial Staff

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