A typical vehicle braking system consists of a pair of brake pads, a brake disc and a brake calliper for each wheel.
The pads are fitted in the calliper with their friction material almost touching the two sides of the brake disc.
When the brake pedal is pressed, hydraulic fluid in the calliper pushes each brake pad against each side of the rotating brake disc. This results in friction which slows down and eventually stops the vehicle.
When you think of the number of times this simple action takes place every day, week, month and year – it's no surprise that brake pads suffer gradual wear, so they need replacing regularly.
There are no hard and fast rules on this. A set of brake pads can last from anywhere between 30,000 and 70,000 miles – possibly more.
A major factor in the lifespan of the pads is down to the way the vehicle is driven.
It's worth taking into account the following factors to give you an idea of how long your brake pads might last.
If a lot of your driving is done on the motorway, you might find your brake pads last longer than if you drive more around inner cities and on shorter journeys.
That’s because urban journeys require more stopping and starting at traffic lights, roundabouts and junctions – so your brakes are used far more often than when cruising along on a motorway.
Another factor in brake pad wear is the weight regularly being carried by the vehicle, e.g. four or five passengers, fully loaded boot, towing a caravan etc. When the vehicle is lighter it’s easier to slow down and stop with less braking effort required.
A vehicle used by a 5-person family is obviously heavier than say, one used by a couple – so stopping it in the same amount of time requires greater pressure and puts more strain on brake pads.
The type of pads you can have in your vehicle also vary in durability:
Although it fluctuates based on the type of road you’re on: the more miles you put in, the more you use your brakes and the faster your brake pads wear out. It's as simple as that.
Usually, front brake pads will wear out faster than those at the rear because the front handles more of the braking load.
Never ignore brake pads that need replacing. Most vehicles are fitted with wear sensors to detect when front or rear brake pads are getting critically low. However, there are other signs to look out for too.
The most obvious indication is a brake pad wear warning light .
It will show on the car's display board to indicate that at least one set of pads is almost worn out and a replacement needs to be fitted.
However, not all cars are equipped with brake pad sensors. If your car doesn't have them, you must make sure the pads are inspected and checked by a professional regularly.
Services will assess the condition of brake pads but at other times, listen and look for the possible flaws mentioned below.
If you can hear a loud screeching sound when braking it's a real warning sign that new brake pads are needed, or at least the current ones require inspection.
If you hear a grinding noise, it's likely the brake pads have been worn down completely. If this happens you should not drive the vehicle and arrange for the brakes to be checked and replaced as soon as possible.
It's sometimes possible to look at the brake pads for wear and tear.
Depending on the vehicle model, you may be able to see the outer pad by looking through the spokes of the wheel – the outer pad will be pressed against the brake disc.
There should be at least 3mm of pad visible. If you see anything less, get the brake pads inspected.
This is the kind of check you should be getting during a car service, but be aware that some unscrupulous garages might be skipping the removal of your wheel to check, so use AutoNetVip a garage you can trust .
There are ways of making brake pads last longer: