How to tell your brakes need replacing
Generally, brake pads need to be replaced after about 50,000 miles of run time. Some might need to be replaced sooner than that - after 25,000 miles, while others can last for up to 70,000. What does this mileage depend on? Many things, like your driving habits, roads condition and environment, brake pad hardness or whether you're using original or replacement parts.
Your car owner's manual should be a good source for accurate information on what sort of brake pads your car takes and if the current ones are fit for purpose. But what to look for when you think it is time to change? Here are the most common warning signs that can indicate that the brake pads are wearing out and you should consider getting a new set:
⚠️Brake pad thickness. Check with the manufacturer recommended brake pad thickness. Generally the minimum recommended thickness of the frictional material is about 3-4 millimeters. Anything thinner than that is risking poor brake performance or even brake failure because you won't be able to slow down as fast as you normally expect. Inspect brake pad thickness regularly. If you can't do it yourself, whenever the tires are rotated or the oil is changed, have a mechanic take a look at the brake pads too.⠀
⚠️Squealing or scraping noise. 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; they start making a squealing noise. Replace immediately.⠀
⚠️Jittery braking. 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, less expensive, and safer to just replace the brake rotor.⠀
If the brakes do feel worn out or you've noticed any of the signs above, your car's brake pads 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 key to safe, predictable braking and safe motoring!