Brakes perform a vital job for the driver and need to be well maintained to work at their best. Unfortunately, brake use varies based on a number of factors, including:
Driving habits: Some drivers ride the brakes and stop abruptly while others coast to a stop most of the time. This greatly affects how long the brake pads last.
Environment: Due to stop-and-go traffic and traffic lights, driving in the city is harder on the brakes of a vehicle than driving out in the country on long straight roads. Driving in mountainous areas can really wear the brakes out prematurely as well.
Brake pad hardness: Hard brake pads last longer but usually need to be warm before they perform well. Soft brake pads perform better at low speeds, like in urban areas. Too much heat can melt them onto the brake rotor and reduce brake performance if the driving gets too extreme.
Materials: The materials that make up the brake rotor and brake pad also factor into the brakes’ durability. Carbon-ceramic brakes last longer than standard brakes, for instance, but they need to be warmer than the alternative to be effective.
How to tell if your brakes need replacing
Brake pads need to be replaced after about 50,000 miles on average. Some need to be replaced after 25,000, while others can last for 70,000 miles. To get a more accurate number for your car’s specific needs, consult the car’s manual. There are other indicators that can also communicate that the brake pads are on their last leg. These include:
Whenever the tires are getting rotated or the oil is getting changed, have the mechanic take a look at the brake pads to see the thickness. Inspect regularly.
Brake pads have small metal hairs at the very bottom to let the driver know when they are about to run out of grippy material. Replace any brake pad making a metallic scraping noise immediately.
If braking becomes jittery then the rotors may be warped. Some treatments can either clean or grind down the surface of the rotor in order to make it flat again. Most of the time though, it is easier and safer to just replace the brake rotor.
Generally, if the brakes look worn out or start losing performance, they should be replaced. If there are any unusual noises or sparks coming from the brakes, have them inspected by a mechanic right away. Good, functional brakes are the key to safe, predictable braking and safe motoring!