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As your vehicle racks up mileage, some of its components will start to wear down and may start to fail. While you can hold off on repairing some parts when they get damaged, replacing faulty brake components should never be delayed.

One of the parts that you should keep an eye on are your vehicle’s brake pads. Failing to replace them once they’ve become worn out or have reached the end of their service life can reduce your vehicle’s ability to slow down and stop, as well as cause damage to surrounding brake parts.

So, you might be wondering⁠—how long do brake pads last and when should you replace them? Read on to find out.

brake pads in a box
Replacing faulty brake components should never be delayed.

When Should Brake Pads Be Replaced?

Brake pads can last anywhere between 20,000 and 65,000 miles, depending on your driving habits. For instance, if you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, chances are the brake pads will wear faster compared to more relaxed driving conditions.

The longevity of brake pads also depends on their type.

Here’s a helpful video on how to replace your rear brake pads:

Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO)

An NAO brake pad is made from synthetic materials like aramid fibers. Compared to a semi-metallic pad, it has a softer lining, causes less wear on the brake rotor, and produces less brake dust.


As its name suggests, a semi-metallic brake pad is made from metal particles. Although this is the most common type of brake pad used in vehicles, it produces a lot of brake dust and may cause wheel discoloration.

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A ceramic brake pad is the most durable among all brake pad types due to its ceramic and copper fibers. Compared to an NAO or semi-metallic brake pad, this type produces the least amount of brake dust.

surface of a car's brake pad
Consider which brake pad material is best for your application.

Symptoms of Worn  Brake Pads

Brake pads are essential safety components, which is why replacing them when damaged or worn is a must. Here are some signs that you should watch out for to determine when you need to get a new set of brake pads.

Activated Brake Pad Wear Warning Light or Message

Some cars have brake pad sensors that will cause a brake pad warning light (or message) to pop up when the pads are worn. In some cases, if the pads are extremely worn out, the red brake light may also illuminate due to the caliper pistons being fully extended, causing the brake fluid level to be low.

Low Brake Pedal

If it feels like you need to apply more pressure on the brake pedal than usual, there’s a chance that the brake pads have worn out and need to be replaced. However, note that this symptom may also indicate an extremely dangerous damaged master cylinder or brake fluid leak.

break pad set black
Replace your brake pads as soon as you confirm that they are worn or damaged.

Squealing Noise

Worn out brake pads may produce squealing noises as you step on the brake pedal due to brake wear indicators coming into contact with the rotor. When this happens, it’s best to replace the brake pads immediately to prevent rotor damage.

See also  How to Replace Front Brake Pads

Slower Brakes

Worn brake pads take longer to generate enough friction to stop your vehicle, which could be dangerous for you and other vehicles on the road. If you notice a slow brake response as you step on the brake pedal, it’s a good idea to bring your vehicle to the nearest repair shop to have it checked.


If you feel your vehicle vibrating or pulsating as you step on the brake pedal, it may be due to a damaged brake pad or warped rotor.

worn brake pads
Worn brake pads take longer to generate enough friction to stop your vehicle, which could be dangerous for you and other vehicles on the road.

Choosing the Best Brake Pad Set for Your Vehicle

When choosing replacement brake pads for your vehicle, there are some factors you have to consider.

Type of Vehicle

The right brake pad set will depend on the type of vehicle you are driving. A standard set would suffice for sedans and other light vehicles driven under good conditions. However, vehicles frequently used for towing or hauling may require a premium-grade brake pad set.

Brake Effectiveness Evaluation Procedures (BEEP) Standards

Before buying a brake pad set, make sure it has passed the BEEP standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). This certifies that the product has been tested and meets the qualifications set by industry professionals.

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new brake pads closeup
The right brake pad set will depend on the type of vehicle you are driving.

How to Make Your Brake Pads Last Longer

Brake pads are wear and tear components that will eventually need to be replaced. However, there are some ways to make them last longer.

Slow Down

Drive slowly if you’re not in a hurry. This will help the brake pads last longer, as they won’t require much friction to create a stoppage compared to when you’re driving fast.

Practice Coasting

Coasting is the act of shifting to neutral gear or downshifting (if you’re driving a manual vehicle). This can prolong the service life of your brake pads, as it keeps your foot off the brake pedal.

Lose Unnecessary Cargo

Removing excess weight from your vehicle can help the brake pads last longer, since they won’t require a great amount of friction to stop the vehicle. Removing extra load can also improve fuel economy.

Use Engine Braking

Instead of stepping on the brake pedal for short brakes, it’s a good idea to use engine braking to disengage the engine. This allows your vehicle to slow down on its own, causing the brake pads to use minimum friction in creating a stoppage.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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