Brake pads don't last forever. Research shows that most brake pads have a usable life of about 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Failure to replace a set of worn brake pads, of course, can lead to rotor damage. Your vehicle's rotors may warp, or they may break altogether. You can make your brake pads last longer, however, by following these tips.
#1) Use Transmission Braking
Assuming your vehicle features it, you should consider using transmission braking to decelerate rather than pressing the brake pedal. Transmission braking is a feature that leverages an automatic transmission for braking. When driving downhill, your vehicle may downshift while using transmission braking. You won't have to press the brake pedal. As long as your foot is off the gas pedal, it will decelerate via transmission braking.
#2) Choose Ceramic Brake Pads
The material from which your brake pads are made will affect their lifespan. Different brake pads are made of different materials. Some of them are made of ceramic, whereas others are made of metal or organic materials. Of those materials, ceramic is the longest-lasting. Ceramic brake pads typically cost more, but they last longer than both metal and organic brake pads.
#3) Coast to a Stop
When possible, try to coast your vehicle to a stop rather than pressing the brake pedal. Each time you press the brake pedal, of course, you'll engage your brake pads. The brake pads will press against the wheels' rotors, resulting in friction that slows your vehicle down. Over time, all of this friction will degrade your brake pads to the point where they need to be replaced. Coasting your vehicle to a stop won't engage the brake pads.
#4) Check the Calipers
If you discover that your brake pads are wearing down prematurely, you should check the calipers. Calipers are clamps that contain brake pads. They fit over the rotors, and when you press the brake pedal, they'll squeeze against the rotors. Calipers can fail, however. If your vehicle's calipers are sticking or otherwise functioning incorrectly, you'll need to replace them. Otherwise, they could shorten the life of your brake pads.
#5) Increase Stopping Distance
You won't always be able to coast to a stop. By giving your vehicle more space to stop, though, you can make your brake pads last longer. Avoid trailing directly behind vehicles. Instead, give your vehicle more space. By increasing your stopping distance, you can press the brake pedal more gently so that your brake pads are exposed to less wear and tear.