How Long Do Brake Pads Last

Disc brake is now an integral part of any car, and brake pads are the most important part of a disc brake. But, how long do they last? Read on to know...
Brakes are as vital a part of a vehicle as any other. Maintenance and care of brakes is necessary for a safe driving experience. If your car is equipped with disc brakes, then brake pads form the lifelines of your car's braking system. Brake problems can be attributed to trouble in the brake pads or the brake rotors. To ensure proper functioning of the braking system of a vehicle, it is important to keep a timely check on the working of its components and know when to repair or replace them.

Brake pads, with the help of a friction material attached to their surface, cause the brake rotors to stop, thus haulting the vehicle. This takes place by means of a hydraulic mechanism that seizes the motion of a vehicle's wheels, causing the vehicle to stop. Friction of the brake pads produces heat and also causes wear and tear of the pads. Obviously, brake pads are designed to take the maximum abuse as they have to bear tremendous wear and tear. The immense heat generated by friction makes matters worse. Hence there is need for timely replacement of the brake pads. But, how many miles do these pads last?

Factors affecting the Lifespan of Brake Pads

The lifespan of brake pads is influenced by many factors. While some factors can be controlled by the user, others are bound to cause brake pad damage. Here is a list of the issues that decide their life span:
  • Material: There are 4 types of brake pad materials - semi-metallic, non-asbestos organic (NAO), low-metallic NAO and ceramic. Organic brake pads are quiet and don't create as much wear on the rotor disc. On the other hand, those semi-metallic can stand up to the heat generated by heavy trucks and SUVs. Ceramic brake pads have the longest lifespan, but can be noisy in some applications. Both types of organic pads are much less noisy and cause very less wear and tear on the rotor, but wear off fast themselves. Semi-metallic brake pads are designed to stand up to tremendous heat generated by heavy vehicles and SUVs. These last longer than the organic ones. Ceramic brake pads cost more than any other type and offer the best braking characteristics. The wearing down of the pads and the rotor is much less in this case. These brake pads have the longest lifespan, but can be noisy if used in heavy vehicles.
  • Driving Habits: The way you drive can be a deciding factor. If a driver is habitual of being heavy on the brakes, the lifetime of brake pads will be much less than someone who applies much less pressure on the brake pedal. Braking too frequently, i.e. after very short intervals, will quickly wear them off. One can inculcate a habit of keeping safe following distance and anticipating a slow down sooner and braking very slowly.
  • Type and Weight of Car: Bigger and bulkier cars like SUVs require the brake pads to work harder while stopping the vehicle which makes the wearing down faster. Extra mass on the vehicle due to excessive storage also has an impact on brake pad life.
  • Terrain: Gravity is the biggest enemy when it comes to braking. Roads with inclines or with many curves take their toll on the brakes and drastically reduce the lifespan of the brake pads. This is one factor about which you cannot do much about, but you can get ready for a brake job at least!
Most manufacturers recommend a change of brake pads every 60,000 miles, but only under somber driving conditions. However, only few cars are driven under these so-called ideal conditions and need new brake pads much sooner. Being aware of the damage will help you keep the brakes in a top condition. By following the above mentioned steps one can reap in tremendous results.

As said earlier, proper maintenance and sound knowledge of brake pads can help you immensely in reaping the best performance and long life off them.
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