Car pedals

How to Check and Change Your Brake Pads

If your brakes don’t work properly, you won’t stop properly, if at all, and that is a dangerous position to be in. Make sure you can be confident every time you press the brake pedal by keeping on top of your brake pads.

Two mechanics work on the underside of a vehicle, near the wheel/brakes

What are Brake Pads & How Do They Work?

Brake pads are an integral part of a car’s braking system, working in conjunction with a disc and a calliper on each wheel. Pads sit in the calliper, with friction material almost touching either side of the disc. As you press down on the brake pedal, hydraulic fluid pushes the pads against the disc, with the resulting friction slowing the car down, eventually coming to a stop. Not all cars use disc and pads for braking, some cars use drums and shoes as an alternative.

There are also three types – organic, metallic and ceramic that themselves offer different performance attributes. Organic are usually the cheaper, budget-option pads. These ones do nothing special with regards to your vehicles braking capabilities, but they’re also fairly quiet when being used and do little wear and tear damage to your overall brake system.

Metallic brake pads are considered mid-range when it comes to price, despite offering the best performance of the three. This is because they’re also very noisy and can speed up the wear and tear your car will suffer over time. The premium option is ceramic.

Ceramic brake pads are going to set you back the most financially, and they’re not as good as metallic pads when grading performance. So why are they so expensive? Well, they’re the quietest of the trio, and do the bare minimum wear and tear damage.

How Long Do Brake Pads Last?

There isn’t a set time that pads are expected to last, with your driving habits having a major effect on the lifespan of a set of pads. Generally pads tend to last in the region of 30,000 to 70,000 miles, but if looked after could last even longer.

How Much Are New Brake Pads?

The cost of new pads will depend on the make and model of car you drive, with more premium brands and models likely to result in a higher asking price for your pads. You’ll also find a difference in price depending on whether you’re searching for front or rear pads. While not always the case, you will often find that front pads have a higher price than their rear counterparts. 

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Brake Pads?

If you are looking to get your pads replaced at a garage, you’ll naturally find it a little pricier than if you were trying to do it yourself – but not everyone has the mechanical know-how to be able to replace their brake pads. Again, the cost is going to change from car to car, but the average cost to replace a set of brake pads across the nation is approximately £100.

How to Check Brake Pads?

In some cases, depending on the car, you will be able to see the outer pad of the brakes through the wheel spokes. The outer pad will be pressed against the brake disc, and if there is anything less than 3mm of the pad visible then you should get them inspected. 

How to Tell if Brake Pads Are Worn?

If you’re running around on worn pads then there are a couple of warning signs that you can keep an eye or ear out for. What does a worn brake pad sound like? Let us explain:

  • Loud screeching noises While it may not mean new pads are needed straight away, it is worth getting an inspection at least.
  • Grinding noises Likely to mean they have totally worn down and you should arrange to have the car taken – not driven – to be checked as soon as possible.
  • Car pulls to one side when braking Likely to mean there is a brake fault, and uneven pad wear can be caused by an imbalance in braking efficiency.
  • Vibrations coming through the pedal when you brake The pads may have become warped due to excessive heat.
  • What your brake pads look like – The physical appearance of your brake pads will also give you a clue to their condition; extreme visible deterioration can be a sign that it’s time for new ones.

How to Change Brake Pads

Changing your brake pads is not an easy job, and if the extent of your car maintenance so far has been topping up washer fluid or checking your tyre pressures, then this probably isn’t a job for you. Brakes are a critical component in cars, and if they are not fitted correctly could be incredibly dangerous. It’s best to take your car to a local garage who can do this for you.

We’re all for a bit of DIY here at Scrap Car Comparison, but if you have to ask yourself “can I change my own brake pads” then the answer is probably ‘no’.

What Brake Pads Do I Need?

  • You may be required in some cases to stick to OEM (original equipment manufacturer) components as failing to do so could void your warranty, so if your car is still within warranty checking with them will be your first port of call.
  • Some cars however will allow the use of aftermarket parts built to OEM specifications.
  • If your car is too old for warranty to be an issue and you’re not sure what pads you should be looking for, then any good car parts shop will be able to let you know.
  • Alternatively most large online retailers are able to help pinpoint the parts you need if you input your vehicle’s details.

How Long Does it Take to Change Brake Pads?

While you’re unlikely to be able to change brakes in 30 seconds like a Le Mans pit crew, if you know what you’re doing, a pad change takes on average between 30 minutes to an hour. These times can be longer, however, and depends on the individual make and model of the car being worked on.

How To Make Your Brake Pads Last Longer

There are a few ways you can make your pads last a little longer, all of which can be done from the driver’s seat:

Have a gentle right foot

Heavy acceleration can often lead to heavy braking, which increases wear and tear on all parts of the brakes.

Stick to the speed limit

High-speed driving means you are much more likely for fast, sudden, braking.

Keep your eyes on the road ahead

If you can see traffic ahead, or are approaching traffic lights that are currently green and likely to change, apply your brakes gradually and slowly bring it down to a standstill, rather than waiting and slamming them on at the last minute.

Only carry what you need

This doesn’t mean refusing to give your annoying friend a lift, but clear out the boot or remove an unused roof rack. Less weight means less pressure is being put on the pads each time you apply the brakes.

For more hints and tips on keeping your car in the best possible condition and safely on the road, visit our Car Care hub, where we guide you through every aspect of driving, from paperwork to maintenance and everything in between.

If your brakes are the latest in a long line of issues for your old car, then it may be time to look elsewhere and get something a little more reliable. Scrapping your car gives you a larger budget to play with when looking at putting down your next deposit, and Scrap Car Comparison can guarantee you will get the best price possible. Why not start today by visiting our online quote generator and see just how much your car could be worth.

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