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FAQs Concerning Brake Pads
What’s the difference between brake shoes and brake pads?
Brake shoes are curved metal blocks that are used with older drum brake systems. When the brakes are applied, the shoes press against the inner lining of the drum, creating friction. The friction causes the drums to slow, slowing the vehicle. Brake shoes are not as efficient as brake pads, but they are still used on some vehicles because they are inexpensive and they work well on rear brakes.
Brake pads are flat metal plates with a thick friction layer on one side. They are used with the disc brake systems that come with most newer cars. When the brakes are applied, hydraulic pressure is applied to the pads, causing them to squeeze the brake rotors, which stops the vehicle. Brake pads cool more efficiently than brake shoes, and they also work better in wet weather.
How long do brake pads last?
How long your brake pads last depends on what types of pads and rotors you have as well as your driving style. On average, brake pads tend to last about 50,000 miles, ranging from 30,000 miles on the low end to 70,000 miles on the high end. For most drivers, this comes out to almost four years. Some drivers may need to replace their pads after three years, while others may find their pads last over six years. Brake rotors may last two or three times as long as brake pads.
What causes brake pads to wear out?
The friction applied to brake pads gradually wears them down until they become thin. This erosion process can be accelerated by a number of factors, including the type of material your pads are made from, how often you drive on hills, how frequently you brake, how sharply you brake, and how tightly your wheel lugs are screwed. Once pads are too thin to use, your car becomes dangerous to drive. If you continue using your car in this condition, eventually your brake rotors can become damaged, which will require you to replace your entire braking assembly instead of just your pads.
Buy replacement brake pads online or visit your local Advance Auto Parts store and have one of our knowledgable Team Members help you.
Signs You Need New Brake Pads
There are several indicators that can let you know to check your brake pads to see if they need replacement:
- Squealing noise when you drive that goes away temporarily when you press the brakes: This can be a warning sign from your pad’s wear indicator that your pads are getting thin.
- Screeching sound when braking: This can indicate your pads’ metal shim is rubbing your rotors.
- Grinding sound when braking: This can indicate that your pad is completely worn down and your disc and caliper are rubbing together. If this is the case, more than just your pad will need replacement.
- Clicking noise when the brake pedal is pressed or released: This can be a sign your pads are wobbling.
- Delayed stopping time (brake fade): This can be caused by long-term driving patterns that habitually overheat your brakes, such as frequently braking for a long period when traveling downhill.
- Car nose pulls to one side when braking: This can be a sign your brake pads have worn unevenly.
- Pedal vibrates when braking: This can indicate the binding resin on your brake pads has gotten hot and smeared unevenly over your discs (glazing).
- Brake pads look too thin: If the visible outside of your pads look less than a quarter-inch thick, they are getting too thin.
- Rotors show deep grooves: This is a sign your pads need to be replaced, and your rotors may also need to be replaced or turned.
Brake Pad Types
There are several major types of brake pads that have come into use since asbestos pads were replaced:
- Non-asbestos organic
The first alternative to asbestos pads was pads made of organic materials such as carbon, rubber and glass. These have the advantage of being cheap and quiet, but they overheat easily and wear out quickly, as well as causing your pedal to feel squishy.
These pads have metals such as iron, steel, and copper incorporated into their friction material. They can handle heat better than organic pads, provide a firmer feel, give better performance and are relatively inexpensive, but they also require a break-in period, generate brake dust, and are noisy.
- Low-metallic non-asbestos organic (NAO)
These combine organic material with a small amount of metal mixed in. They can tolerate heat better than purely organic pads and deliver better performance, but also generate brake dust and noise.
These pads can endure heat, making them long-lasting plus they generate less brake dust and noise. Their main drawback is being expensive. They also can be noisy when cold.
How to Install Brake Pads
Replacing brake pads is a relatively easy process that takes approximately one to two hours per axle. It involves removing the lug nuts, wheels, caliper fasteners, and calipers in order to remove and replace the pads. See the Advance Auto Parts blog for step-by-step instructions on how to install brake pads and brake shoes. Be sure to follow these best practices when changing pads:
- Prior to changing pads, turn off the vehicle and depress the brake pedal 10 to 20 times. This will release residual pressure in your braking system.
- Support your vehicle correctly on jack stands when loosening lug nuts and wheels.
- Check for brake fluid leakage and rotor damage while changing your pads.
- Clean your brake assembly.
- Note your pads’ original location before removing clips.
- Hang removed calipers with wire or bungee cord so they’re not dangling from the brake line while you’re working.
- Apply grease to your new clips to prevent squeaking.
How to Choose the Right Brake Pad
When it comes to choosing between metallic and ceramic pads, it’s best to replace your pads with the same type your manufacturer originally installed. Don’t upgrade pads without checking with your manufacturer. As far as picking brake pad brands, choose a brand whose standard pads perform well in tests.
One or more blades are not making contact with the glass.
The wiper frame may be bent or the windshield wiper blade itself may be worn. Repair or replace as necessary.
Are there any preventive steps I can take to extend the life of my brake pads?
There are several things you can do to make your brake pads last longer:
- Avoid speeding, since braking from high speeds puts more stress on your pads.
- Use your right foot to brake to avoid leaving your left foot on the brake.
- Start coasting to a stop earlier rather than waiting until the last minute to brake.
- Maintain distance behind cars to reduce the need to brake suddenly.
How much will it cost to replace my brake pads?
Brake pads themselves can cost anywhere from $10 to $100. Getting your brake pads replaced averages about $150 per axle, with costs ranging from $100 to $300 per axle. If you need to replace other parts such as calipers and rotors, a complete brake job averages $500, with costs ranging from $300 to $1,000.
Should I replace my brake pads myself?
You can do a brake pad replacement yourself if you have mechanical experience. If you are inexperienced, it's best to have a professional change your brake pads.
Should I get my rotors turned when I replace my brake pads?
The best practice is to get your rotors turned whenever you replace your brake pads. This will optimize your pad wear and breaking performance without costing you the expense of new rotors. However, it also shortens the lifespan of your rotors and makes them more susceptible to overheating and brake fade, so be aware of the tradeoff.