Car Service Guide: When To Replace Brake Pads?

December 13, 2023

Did you know that your car’s brake pads should ideally be replaced every 40,000 to 100,000 kilometres? Yes, that’s right! It might seem like a lot, but considering their crucial role in your vehicle’s safety, it’s a small price to pay.

Remembering this essential aspect of car maintenance can sometimes feel like a road filled with potholes, especially for those new to auto-care. But worry not. We’re here to smooth out the ride.

We’ll explore signs indicating it’s time to bid your old brake pads farewell and embrace the new. From squealing noises to reduced efficiency, we’ll cover it all. So, fasten your seatbelts as we dive into the fascinating world of brake pads, helping you understand their life cycle and the right time for replacements.

After all, a well-maintained car isn’t just about shiny exteriors and roaring engines; it’s also about the unseen heroes like brake pads that silently contribute to our safety.

What Are Brake Pads?

What Are Brake Pads

A brake pad is a component of disc brakes used in automotive and other applications. It comprises steel backing plates with friction material bound to the surface facing the disc brake rotor.

The function of the brake pad is to convert the vehicle’s kinetic energy into thermal energy by friction. When you press the brake pedal, the pads are hydraulically squeezed against the rotating disc brake rotor. The resulting friction causes the rotor, and thus the wheel, to slow down or stop.

The friction material, or the pad, comprises various compounds, from composite materials to metallic compounds. The choice of material depends on various factors, including noise, dust, braking performance, and wear rate.

Regular inspections and maintenance of your brake pads can help prevent more serious damage to your vehicle and ensure optimal braking performance.

Different Types Of Disc Brake Pads In The Market

Types Of Disc Brake Pads

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

These are made of metal shavings such as copper, steel, or brass mixed with a small amount of filler materials and bonded together using resin. Semi-metallic brake pads are known for their durability and good heat dissipation, which makes them suitable for high-performance vehicles and heavy-duty applications. However, they can be noisy and may wear down the brake rotors faster than other brake pads.

Ceramic Brake Pads

Ceramic brake pads blend ceramic fibres, fillers, and bonding agents. They are quieter and cleaner than semi-metallic pads and last longer. However, they are more expensive and might not perform as well in extreme cold conditions.

Low-metallic NAO Brake Pads

Low-metallic NAO (Non-Asbestos Organic) brake pads are made of organic materials mixed with a small percentage (10-30%) of metal, such as copper or steel. They provide good braking performance and heat transfer but can produce more brake dust and noise compared to other types.

Non-Asbestos Organic 

Non-asbestos organic (NAO) brake pads are constructed from organic materials. NAO brake pads are known for their softness and relative quietness during operation. The inclusion of materials like fibreglass, rubber, and even Kevlar, along with resins such as cellulose, contribute to their performance characteristics.

However, NAO brake pads do have some limitations. They tend to wear down faster than other types of brake pads, which can lead to more frequent replacements.

Also, there may be better choices for conditions that require regular, heavy braking, such as in high-performance or off-road driving scenarios. The heat generated under these conditions can cause the pads to degrade more quickly.

Signs That Your Brake Pads Need To Be Replaced

Signs That Your Brake Pads Need To Be Replaced

1. Screeching Or Grinding Noises

Brake pads are equipped with a small metal indicator that produces an audible screeching noise when it comes in contact with your vehicle’s brake rotor. This indicates that your brake pads have worn down and need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Your brake pads have completely worn down if you hear a grinding noise instead of the usual screeching sound. The metal backing of your brake pad is now grinding against the rotor. This can cause significant damage to your brakes, so it is important to get them replaced immediately.

2. Increased Response Time

If you notice that your vehicle is taking longer to come to a complete stop when you apply the brakes, it could be a sign that your brake pads need to be replaced. This can happen because of uneven pad wear or low brake fluid levels caused by a leak. To ensure your vehicle’s braking system is functioning properly, it’s important to have this issue addressed by a professional brake mechanic as soon as possible.

3. Vibrations In The Brake Pedal

Another sign that your brake pads need to be replaced is if you feel vibrations in the braking pedal when you apply pressure. This could indicate that your brake pads have become warped or damaged, causing an uneven contact between the pads and the rotor. This can also be caused by a buildup of debris or rust on the rotor, which can prevent the pads from making smooth contact.

4. Warning Lights

Some vehicles are equipped with a dashboard warning light that illuminates when it detects low levels of brake fluid or worn brake pads. If this light appears on your dashboard, it is important to have your brakes checked by a professional mechanic.

While the warning light may not always indicate a serious issue, it is better to be safe than sorry and have your brakes inspected as soon as possible. Ignoring this warning can lead to further damage and potentially costly repairs.

5. Longer Stopping Distance

Have you noticed that your car takes longer to come to a stop when you hit the brakes? This could be a sign that your brake pads are wearing out. As the brake pads wear down, there is less material for them to grip onto the rotor, resulting in a longer stopping distance.

6. Visible Wear And Tear

One of the most obvious signs that your brake pads need to be replaced is visible wear and tear on the pads themselves. You can easily check this by looking through your wheel’s spokes to see if any brake pad material is left. If you notice that the pads are less than a quarter inch thick, it’s time to get them replaced.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Disc Brake Pads

Choosing Disc Brakes Specs


The performance of brake pads is a critical factor to consider. The braking power should be consistent under all conditions, whether driving in the city or on a highway. Good brake pads should have a high friction level for better stopping power and should remain effective even at high temperatures. High-performance brake pads are typically made from ceramic or semi-metallic compounds, offering excellent heat resistance and longevity.

Noise Level

Nobody wants a car with squeaky brakes. Therefore, the noise level of the brake pads is an essential factor to consider. Some materials, like organic compounds, are known for quiet operation, while others, like semi-metallic pads, can be noisier. However, some high-quality semi-metallic and ceramic pads come with shims, chamfers, and slots that help reduce noise levels.

Wear and Tear

The durability of brake pads is a crucial consideration. The rate of wear and tear depends on the material used in manufacturing the brake pads. For instance, ceramic pads last longer and wear out slower than organic and semi-metallic pads.

They also produce less dust, keeping your wheels cleaner. When choosing brake pads, consider how often you use your car and the kind of driving you do. If you drive frequently or aggressively, go for durable pads that are resistant to wear and tear.


Price is always a factor when purchasing any car part. While going for cheaper options is tempting, remember that your safety is paramount.

Cheaper brake pads may not offer the best performance and could wear out quickly, leading to more frequent replacements and potentially higher long-term costs. However, always balance this with your budget.

DIY Vs. Professional Brake Pad Replacement

Mad Man Service - Professional Brake Pad Replacement

Brake pad replacement is a pivotal aspect of car maintenance that often brings us to a crossroads. Should we get our hands dirty and do it ourselves, or should let the professionals handle it?

How To Maintain And Replace Disc Brake Pads Yourself

Step 1: Remove the Wheel

Our journey begins with the removal of the wheel. With the car securely elevated, use a lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts. Once loose, gently remove the wheel, unveiling the underlying brake assembly.

Step 2: Remove the Slider Bolt

Next, locate the slider bolt on the brake calliper. Using the appropriate tool, carefully unfasten and remove the bolt, keeping it safe for later return.

Step 3: Caliper’s Ascension

With the slider bolt removed, the calliper is now free to move. Gently pivot the calliper upwards, revealing the brake pads nestled within.

Step 4: The Old Guard Steps Down

Now, it’s time for the old brake pads to step down. Carefully slide them out one at a time, making way for their fresh replacements.

Step 5: Retaining Clip Makeover

Next, replace the retaining clips. These small but vital components ensure the brake pads remain securely in place.

Step 6: The New Guard Steps Up

Slide in the new brake pads. They should fit snugly within the calliper, held firmly by the newly installed retaining clips.

Step 7: Piston’s Retreat

Now, retract the pistons using a brake piston tool. This action creates the necessary space for the new, thicker brake pads.

Step 8: Fluid Level Vigilance

As you retract the pistons, keep an eye on the brake fluid level. If necessary, remove some fluid to prevent overflowing.

Step 9: Caliper’s Descent

Reposition the calliper back down over the new brake pads. Ensure it’s properly aligned and sits flush against the assembly.

Step 10: Slider Bolt’s Return

The slider bolt returns and is reinstalled to secure the calliper in place. Tighten it carefully, ensuring a firm hold.

Step 11: The Other Half’s Turn

Now, repeat the entire process on the other side. Consistency is key for safe and effective braking.

Step 12: The Moment of Truth

Under safe conditions, conduct a test drive. Pay attention to the feel of your brakes and any unusual noises. This will confirm a successful replacement.

Pros And Cons

  1. Cost Savings: One of the most significant advantages of replacing your brake pads yourself is the potential cost savings. Avoiding labour costs from professional mechanics can save you a considerable amount of money. All you need are the necessary brake pads, fluids, rotors, and grease.
  2. Control Over Parts: This means you can choose high-quality parts or parts that specifically suit your needs and preferences, ensuring your car performs at its best.
  3. Flexibility: Doing the job yourself allows you to work on your schedule. You can choose a convenient time, such as a weekend afternoon, without having to work around a mechanic or auto repair shop schedule.

Cons of Replacing Brake Pads on Your Own

  1. Complexity: Replacing brake pads is a complex task. The process has become more complicated with the continuous advancement in brake pad technology. Some car models offer limited space within the disk brake systems, making maneuvering and replacing the brake pads challenging.
  2. Risk of Damage: Inexperience and lack of knowledge can lead to mistakes, potentially damaging your vehicle or reducing the effectiveness of your brakes.
  3. Time-Consuming: While working on your schedule can be a pro, it can also be a con if the task takes longer than expected. Replacing your brake pads can be time-consuming, especially if you’re new to the process or encounter difficulties.

Hiring A Professional To Do It For You

Pros of Replacing Brake Pads on Your Own

  1. Saving Money: One of the biggest benefits of replacing your brake pads is the money you’ll save. You can avoid the costs of taking your car to a professional mechanic by handling the labour yourself.
  2. Choice of Materials: When you handle the replacement yourself, you choose the brake pads and other necessary parts. You can do so if you have specific preferences or want to use a particular brand.
  3. Convenient Timing: Replacing your brake pads means you can pick a time that suits you best. Whether it’s a weekend afternoon or an evening after work, you won’t need to rely on the operating hours of a repair shop.

Cons of Replacing Brake Pads on Your Own

  1. Complexity of the Task: Brake pad replacement can be complex, especially for those who are not mechanically inclined. The process requires precise steps and, if done incorrectly, could lead to more significant issues.
  2. Potential for Mistakes: Without the proper training and experience, there’s a greater chance of making mistakes. These could range from minor errors that make the job more time-consuming to major ones that could impact the functionality of the brakes.
  3. Time Intensive: Although you can choose when to do the job, replacing brake pads can be time-consuming. It’s not just the time spent on the replacement. You’ll also spend time researching the process, purchasing the necessary parts, and possibly dealing with unexpected challenges.

How Can You Make Your Brake Discs Last Longer?

Maintain Moderate Speeds

The faster you’re going, the harder your brakes have to work to bring your vehicle to a stop. This can lead to premature wear and tear. To avoid this, try to keep your driving speed moderate. This not only reduces the strain on your brake pads but also enhances your fuel efficiency.

Master the Art of Engine Braking

Engine braking effectively decreases wear on your brake pads. It involves releasing the accelerator and allowing the engine’s natural deceleration to slow down the vehicle. However, consider factors like your current speed, the road’s gradient, and your gear when using this method. Also, always maintain a safe distance from the vehicles ahead.

Say No to Brake Riding

Simultaneously accelerating and braking puts undue pressure on your brake pads. This practice, known as brake riding, can increase friction between the brake pads and rotors, causing faster degradation. To prevent this, use only one foot for accelerating and braking, keeping the other foot rested.

Regularly Flush Your Brakes

Brake fluid attracts water, which can hinder the efficiency of your braking system and cause corrosion. That’s why it’s advisable to flush or replace your brake fluid every two years. This maintains the ideal condition of your brakes and prolongs their lifespan.

Avoid Overloading Your Vehicle

The heavier your vehicle, the more force your brakes need to exert to stop it. You should rethink if you’re in the habit of carrying heavy loads or installing hefty accessories. Reducing your vehicle’s weight can significantly lessen the stress on your brake pads.

Regular Maintenance is Key

Wear and tear on brake pads can sometimes go unnoticed until it’s too late. For this reason, it’s essential to have your brakes checked regularly by a professional. Regular maintenance ensures your brake pads are in good shape and any potential issues are identified early.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should You Replace Your Brake Pads

While the mileage and time frame can vary, replacing your brake pads every 40,000 to 100,000 kilometres or approximately every 3 to 5 years is generally advised.

When Should I Change My Brake Pads In Km?

The lifespan of brake pads can vary depending on factors such as driving habits, the type of vehicle, and the quality of the brake pads. On average, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) brake pads are expected to last between 40,000 to 100,000 kilometres.

Should I Replace All 4 Brakes At The Same Time?

Brake pads wear out at different rates due to their location on the vehicle. The front brakes typically take on more of a load of stopping the car than the rear ones, so they usually wear out faster. Therefore, it’s common to replace the front brake pads first and then the rear ones later.

However, if all four of your brakes are worn out, it’s advisable to replace all four simultaneously for consistency and optimal braking performance. If only two are worn (whether it’s both fronts or both rears), you may only need to replace them.

What Happens If You Only Change Brake Pads On One Side?

The new brake pad will have more friction and stopping power compared to the old one. This can cause one side of your vehicle to brake faster than the other, leading to uneven braking.


Brake pads play a pivotal role in keeping us safe on the roads. We’ve explored the basics of brake pad maintenance, identified the signs that scream “replacement time,” and shared some budget-friendly tips to keep your brakes performing at their peak.

Remember, a well-timed brake pad replacement isn’t just a routine maintenance task; it’s an investment in your safety and a smart move for your wallet.

If you have been browsing the internet for some good brake pad services, Mad Man Service Center isn’t your average brake pad replacement service; it’s a commitment to excellence. Why choose Madman Motors for your brake pad needs? It’s simple.

They understand the importance of reliable brakes, and their service goes beyond just fixing your car – they educate you on the process, provide transparent pricing, and ensure that you drive away confidently.

So, whether you’ve noticed the signs or it’s time for that routine check, consider Mad Man Motors for a brake service experience that prioritizes your safety and satisfaction. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about stopping your car; it’s about stopping with Madman Motors – where safety meets expertise. Drive safe, friends!

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