Brake Pad Set Buyer's Guide
- A brake pad set is typically made up of four individual brake pads. Each wheel requires a pair of brake pads to be installed (one pair each for the driver and passenger side).
- These brake pads are a critical component of the brake assembly. They are designed to convert kinetic energy to heat, making it possible for your vehicle to slow down and come to a full stop.
- Brake pads stop the movement of your car’s wheels by applying friction on the moving rotor.
- There are four main types of brake pads categorized by the material. These are organic, ceramic, metallic, and semi-metallic brake pads.
- Manufacturers typically provide guidelines regarding brake pad replacement. In general, your car’s brake pads should be replaced after 30,000 miles.
- Factors such as your environment, driving style, the type of vehicle transmission you have, and damage to other brake components can accelerate wear on your brake pads.
- Some of the steps you can do to check if you have a faulty brake pad include checking the brake indicator light, listening for squealing noises while braking, and inspecting brake pad thickness.
- The cost of a brake pad set will vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. OE replacement brake pads will generally cost you anywhere between $2 and $630.
What is a brake pad set?
A brake pad set is typically made up of four individual brake pads. Each wheel requires a pair of brake pads to be installed (one pair each for the driver and passenger side). This means that you’ll need to get one set for the front wheels and a different set for the rear wheels.
These brake pads are a critical component of the brake assembly. They are designed to convert kinetic energy to heat, making it possible for your vehicle to slow down and come to a full stop. Brake pads are attached to the inner side of the caliper and the outer side of the piston that comes in contact with both sides of the rotor.
How do brake pads work
Brake pads stop the movement of your car’s wheels by applying friction on the moving rotor. During this process, the energy coming from the rotors is converted into thermal energy, which is then absorbed and dissipated by the brake pads. These are made from materials that can withstand regular use, maximizes grip, and has high thermal conductivity.
Types of brake pads
There are four main types of brake pads categorized by the material. These are organic, ceramic, metallic, and semi-metallic brake pads.
Organic brake pads
Early car brake pads were originally made from asbestos which was later proven to be a health and environmental hazard. These were replaced by non-asbestos brake pads which are commonly known as organic brake pads.
The material used for this type of brake pad is a combination of rubber, glass, resin, and cellulose. This makes the dust produced during the process of braking less harmful to humans and the environment. They are commonly used in small and light vehicles because they are softer and can easily wear out if regularly used for hard stops.
Ceramic brake pads
This type of brake pad is known for being lightweight and providing excellent brake performance. These brake pads are made from a mix of ceramic fibers, filler materials, and copper fibers. They dissipate thermal energy effectively, produce less dust, and do not wear down as quickly as other types. The one thing that keeps people away from choosing ceramic is its steep price tag.
Metallic brake pads
Standard metal brake pads are great for vehicles that require a great amount of stopping power. These pads are made from a combination of bonded copper, steel, iron, and graphite. The only disadvantage of using this type of brake pad is that they can add extra weight on your vehicle which shouldn’t be a problem unless your vehicle is meant for high-performance driving.
Semi-metallic brake pads
This type of brake pad is commonly seen in modern vehicles. These brake pads are made from a combination of metal and synthetic materials that are bonded using an organic resin. This type is highly resistant to thermal damage and wear but produces less friction than its organic counterpart.
How often should brake pads be replaced?
Manufacturers typically provide guidelines regarding brake pad replacement. In general, your car’s brake pads should be replaced after 30,000 miles. However, factors such as environment, driving style, the type of vehicle transmission you have, and damage to other brake components can accelerate wear on your brake pads.
If you're looking for information about how long do brake pads last, you may read our article here.
How to check brake pads
There are several ways to determine whether its time to get a new brake pad set for your vehicle. Here are some of the steps you can do to check if you have a faulty or damaged brake pad.
Check if the brake indicator light on your dashboard is on (if applicable)
Some vehicle models carry brake pad sensors that trigger a warning light on the dashboard once the brake pad has worn down enough for it to require replacement.
Listen for any squeaking or high-pitched noises while braking
Don’t panic if you hear this noise—a metal indicator on your brake pads is designed to make this sound once the material is worn down near the end of its service life. This noise automatically goes away by simply replacing the brake pads.
Inspect the thickness of your brake pads
Peek through the tire spokes and observe whether the brake pads are less than a quarter of an inch thick. If yes, you should consult a mechanic immediately to have it replaced.
Finding the best brake pads for your vehicle
Make your search for the right brake pad set easier by using our website’s built-in vehicle selector. Simply plug in your car’s correct year, make, and model to narrow down the results to all compatible parts.
How much does a set of brake pads cost?
The cost of a brake pad set will vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. OE replacement brake pads will generally cost you anywhere between $2 and $630. These sets typically come with 2 pairs of brake pads (one pair for each side of the vehicle). These sets are categorized by where they should be installed—front and rear.
How to Change your Brake Pads
Brake pads are a consumable part of your car's braking system. They wear out over time and must be regularly replaced. You can get a mechanic to replace your pads or you can just do it yourself to save some money.
Here are the tools you will need and the steps to follow to replace the brake pads on your vehicle.
Difficulty level: Moderate
- Jack stands
- Lug wrench
- Socket wrench set
- Small bungee cord
Before you begin, make sure your car is raised and supported by jack stands and not just jacks. The jacks may give, which could crush you while you are under the car.
Also, take note that you will need to remove several nuts, bolts, and screws for this project. Put them away in a safe place and in an orderly manner. You won't want to lose any of those.
Step 1: Using the lug wrench, loosen your wheel's lug nuts. Remove them and slowly slide your wheel off. Set it aside for now.
Step 2: You now have to remove the brake caliper. Feel around the back of the caliper for two or more bolts. Use the socket wrench to loosen and remove these bolts. Grab the top of the caliper and gently pull it away. If it won't move, tap it very lightly with the hammer. Set it down on the floor or use the short bungee cord to hang it.
Step 3: Take note of how the pads are attached to the caliper. We suggest you take a picture of the assembly that you can use as a guide when putting things back together again. The old pads should slide right off. If they don't, look for tabs or clips that may be keeping them in place and remove those as well. Slide the new caliper in place.
Step 4: Before putting the caliper back in place, use the c-clamp to reset the position of the piston or pistons that push the brake pads toward the brake disc. Place the end of the clamp with the screw against the piston and the other end of the clamp behind the caliper assembly. Gently tighten the clamp until you move the piston back to its original position.
Step 5: Place the caliper assembly back in its place and secure it by tightening the bolts. Press the brake pedal a few times to test the brake pressure. Put everything else back in place and lower the car.
Just repeat the steps for each of your car's wheels, and you'll be good to go with a new set of brake pads.