How do I know when my brake pads need changing?

Car brake pads last around 50,000 miles on average, but car brake discs can last longer. Mechanics usually recommend changing your brake pads when the thickness is reduced to 3-4mm. For maximum safety, mechanics usually suggest changing brake discs and pads at the same time.

How to check whether your brakes need repairing or replacing

Because your brakes are so essential to the safe running of your car, there are plenty of indicators when they start to wear down. Here’s what you should look (and listen) out for:

Indicator lights

First things first, some vehicles have a brake pad indicator light on their dashboard that lets the driver know when the pads are wearing thin.

Check your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle comes with this warning system.Remember that if you do have this system, you’ll need to replace the light sensor at the same time as the brake pads to ensure you don’t miss any warning signs.

Listen for squealing or screeching

Whether you have a brake pad light or not, one of the earliest indicators that you need to replace your brake pads will be a squealing or screeching sound when you engage the brakes.

This sound is created by a small piece of metal attached in your brake pad just for this purpose. When you start hearing this horrible noise regularly, it’s time to book a replacement appointment.

It’s important to note that when brakes are exposed to wet weather then a thin layer of rust can collect on the brake pads, which will create a similar screeching sound when braking.

If you stop hearing this sound after the first few times you use your brakes, then it’s likely that rust has built up on the brake pads and the brake pad doesn’t need replacing.

You can hear grinding or growling

If you hear a deep, low sound like metal grinding or growling from your car, this is often a sign that your brake pads are worn away and the brake discs and calipers are making contact.

This is the sound of metal on metal, which can quickly cause a lot of damage to your braking system. If you hear this sound, you should bring your vehicle into a garage ASAP.

Take a look

There are also visual signs that your brake pads need replacing.

Look through the gaps in your wheels and you’ll be able to spot your brake pad compressed against your brake rotor.

If the pad is less than 3mm / ¼ inch thick, you should consider bringing your car into the garage for an inspection.

It might just be time

Most brakes are designed to be replaced at about 20,000 miles, but some need to be replaced as regularly as every 15,000 and other models will last as long as 30,000 miles.

Lots of factors affect the longevity of your brake pads, including the make and model of your car, your driving style and the type of brake pads previously fitted.

How much does it cost to replace brake pads?

Replacing brake pads usually requires an expert or may require special tools to reset the warning light, and shouldn’t be undertaken by anyone without a good standard of mechanical knowledge.

If you stick to a simple maintenance schedule, then you’ll be aware ahead of time when a replacement is due.

Brake pads are an essential part of your car’s braking system so if they’re fitted incorrectly they could make your car dangerous to drive.

The cost of brake pads replacement can vary from one car model to another.

If you’re not sure how well your brakes are performing or think you’re due a replacement, you can book an appointment with a Fixter-approved garage quickly and easily.

Your front brakes do most of the work, as the vehicle’s weight pushes forward when stopping, so they tend to need replacing more frequently.

If you find your car pulls to one side when braking, its possibly because one brake caliper has become seized on it’s mounting – you’ll need to book the car for inspection as again it’s potentially dangerous but may require just dismantling and the brake caliper slide mounting cleaning and greasing to correct the fault.

About Fixter

Fixter is revolutionising the car maintenance industry, one repair at a time. Fixter was founded to make car maintenance as easy as booking a taxi. Digital, transparent and stress-free, with world-class customer service. Since launching in Manchester in 2017, Fixter has expanded to more than 100 cities across the UK and provided thousands of car owners with honest, convenient and affordable car repair services.

Watch the video to see how Fixter works