Brake pads are a vital component of modern-day automobiles. They are responsible for creating contact and applying pressure to the vehicle's brake rotors. When you press down on the brake pedal, it causes the caliper clamps to squeeze the brake pads together; thus, reducing the vehicle's speed.
But like all components on cars and trucks, even brake pads must be replaced. Over time, the material from which they are made will degrade and wear down. And when this occurs, you may notice symptoms like squealing or grinding noises when you apply the brakes. Driving with worn-out brake pads is serious hazard that jeopardizes your safety on the road. So, how often should you change them?
What are Brake Pads Made of?
Brake pads are typically made of either metal (or a combination of metals and resin), or ceramic. The most popular and common type of brake pads are semi-metallic, which consist of metals like copper, brass or steel held together with resin. While they cost more than their ceramic counterpart, they generally last longer.
25,000 to 75,000 Miles
Generally speaking, most brake pads should be replaced once every 25,000 to 50,000 miles of driving. Of course, this is just an average, so don't assume that you must replace your vehicle's once it reaches 25,000 miles. There are many different factors that affect the degradation of brake pads.
How do You Drive?
The way in which you drive is one such element that will affect your brake pads. If you drive in daily stop-and-go traffic, for instance, you can expect your brake pads to wear faster than someone who drives mainly on the highway. This is because each time you press the brakes, it wears down the pads. So the more you brake, the faster your brake pads will wear.
Hard or Soft?
Something else to consider if the "hardness" of your brake pads. Some brake pads are soft, whereas others are hard. Soft brake pads are ideal for low-speed driving. In contrast, hard brake pads are better suited for high-speed driving. Soft brake pads are also more susceptible to damage from heat. When exposed to hot temperatures, they may literally melt onto the rotor, at which point you'll need to replace them/
Check Your Manual
When in doubt, check your owner's manual for recommendations on when to chance your vehicle's brake pads. Being that no cars are the same, it's always a good idea to check here first.