How Often Should You Change Your Brake Pads?

When and how often should you change your brakes? 

The braking system on your car is one of the most, if not the most, important safety system in your car. Most braking systems in consumer vehicles consist of brake pads behind each wheel that clamp down on a round disc of metal called a rotor causing the car to slow or stop. 

Unlike most other mechanical systems in your car, your brakes will signal that it’s time for them to be changed. Ignoring the screech/squeal that signifies their life is coming to an end can affect your wallet, and more importantly, your safety. 

Worn brakes make a distinct sound when they need to be replaced. A screeching or squealing sound will start when you press the brakes and won’t go away until you release the brake pedal. Sometimes, if you wait too long or your car is a little older, the sound can turn into a grinding or a grumble. 

The sound you are hearing is metal on metal contact. Brake pads wear down as they’re used, and once there is no pad left, the caliper (holds the brake pads) rubs against the rotor (part the brake pads clamp down on when the brake is pressed) causing the sound. The sound will usually get worse over time, and can eventually turn into a grinding or grumbling (rotor being worn or damaged). These are the telltale signs your car’s brakes are ready to be changed. 

There are many factors that can affect how often your vehicle’s brakes will need to be changed. The size and type of the vehicle, road conditions, how your drive, driving frequency, and quality of brake pads in use can all affect the life of your brake pads. 

The cost to have your brakes changed can vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle and with the quality of pads you choose for your car. Higher quality brake pads will generally last longer than less expensive, but cost more. If the rotors on your vehicle are worn or damaged they often also need to be replaced and can greatly increase the cost of having your brakes replaced. 

The best way to save on costly brake repairs is to have brake issues addressed as soon as they start. Waiting can cause significant damage to the other components of your braking system causing costly repairs. Worn brakes also don’t perform as well and aren’t as safe to drive on. Luckily, all of this can be avoided with regular brake inspections and by paying attention to the sounds your car makes, or doesn’t make, when you press the brakes.