Brake pads are major parts of your vehicle’s braking system, and keeping them in working conditions is crucial for the safety of both you and other drivers around you.

On average, brake pads should be replaced every 30,000 to 40,000 miles, but that number can differ depending on driving conditions and styles.

The good news is, you’ll likely experience minor symptoms when your brake pads are getting towards their end of life, making diagnosis and repairs easy

What are brake pads

The brake pads, along with several other brake system components, are responsible for stopping a vehicle.

They are made with unique materials that maximize friction.

When you step on the brake pedal, the brake system converts your vehicle’s kinetic energy in motion to thermal energy; in this case, the heat is created by friction that is used to slow or stop your car.

While the braking system of a car comprises several components like rotors, calipers, hydraulic fluid, cylinder, hoses, the bit most people think about when we hear the word ‘brakes’ is the brake pad. While all the system components are equally important, if one fails, the whole system fails.

It is the brake pad that is arguably doing the tough work.

When the brake pedal is depressed, the system’s components work together through hydraulic pressure to push the brake pad against the rotor, forcing the car to slow down or stop.

The level of friction and heat created by the pad gripping the rotor is intense, and the wear it causes is why it is the component of the braking system that needs to be changed most often.

What happens when brake pads wear down?

When you step on your brake pedals, you are causing minutes of wear and tear on your brake pads.

For every brake pad, be it ceramic, organic, and metallic, this friction causes a small amount of protective coating to wear away from the brake pad. With time, this deterioration starts to add up.

As your brake pads become thinner, they will eventually get to the point where they should get replaced.

Here are some signs to look for to know when to replace brake pads:

1.Screeching or squealing noises?

Usually, the first indicator any driver will notice is a squealing, screeching, or whining noise when the brakes are engaged.

This sound is usually caused by a small, metallic shim indicator embedded in your brake pad for just this purpose; if you hear it regularly while braking, it is likely time to bring your car into a brake specialist for an inspection.

When the brakes are exposed to wet, damp conditions, such as after a rainstorm, a thin layer of dust may form on the brake pads and cause a very similar screeching sound during braking.

If the sound disappears after the first few times you use your brakes, that’s a good indicator that it’s just a bit of rust on the brake pad, and the brake pad doesn’t need to get replaced

2.Less than a quarter-inch of brake pad?

You can visually inspect your brake pads to know if it’s time to have them replaced.

Look through your tire spokes, and you should see your brake pad compressed against your brake rotor.

If the pad is less than a quarter-inch thick, you should consider having your brakes inspected, especially if it’s been a long time since your last inspection.

Deep Metallic Grinding and Growling

If you hear a deep, low noise that sounds like metal grinding or a rumbling growl, that can be a sign that not only are your brake pads worn away, but your brake disc and calipers are making contact.  

You should bring into a service shop as quickly as possible if you hear this type of noise since this metal on metal contact can very quickly cause even further damage to your braking system

Brake Pad Indicator Light Comes On

Most modern vehicles come with brake warning lights that appear on your dash.

One is your Antilock Braking System (ABS) light, and the other is your brake system warning light.

Your brake light won’t always come when there is an issue; it’s also the light that appears on your dash when your parking brake is engaged.

But if you see a brake warning light and your parking brake isn’t engaged, it’s time to have a brake expert take a look at your system to diagnose your issues.

Taking Longer to Stop

Another major sign that your brakes need to be checked out is the loss of performance when braking.

Suppose you’re experiencing less than ideal stoppage times while braking; it may mean your brake pads are worn down entirely or that your brake fluid is low for a proper understanding of what’s going on with your brakes.

In that case, you’ll want to get to a brake mechanic as soon as possible to ensure you don’t lose all braking abilities.

Other Indicators of Brake Issues

There are other symptoms of brake trouble that don’t involve wear to the brake pads.

If your brakes don’t stop as readily as they used to, this could be water or air in the brake fluid, a fluid leak in the system, or a failing brake master cylinder.

If you have any of these systems or see a puddle of liquid left behind by your car when parked, see a trusty repair shop or dealer.

If your car pulls to one side during braking, the brakes may be wearing unevenly, there might be a leak in one of the brake lines, or you might have an issue with your steering or front suspension that’s unrelated to brakes.

If you feel a vibration or pulsation in the brake pedal during normal braking, this means your rotors are warped and require truing to smooth them out, or possibly replacement.

If you’ve been driving aggressively or using the brakes hard while descending a mountain road, this brake roughness might abate when the brakes cool. If the vibration or pulsing continues, that is another sign they need to be inspected.

How Long Do Brake Pads Last?

Brake pads are generally thought to be good from anywhere between 3,000-45,000 miles.

However, the real answer to how long brake pads can last will vary from vehicle to vehicle and from driver to driver.

For example, if you tend to drive the most often in urban areas or heavy commuter traffic, you’ll be engaging your brakes a lot more frequently than someone who drives in rural locations or on highways.

Some people also tend to “ride the brake,” meaning they press and depress their brakes more habitually than other drivers, causing the brake pads to wear away more quickly.


With a little attention and forethought, it can be easy to know when to replace brake pads on your vehicle.

If you looking for the best brake pads, its advisable to take time and avoid impulse buying. Lastly, for any brake pad question, contact us.