We all know how important our car’s brakes are – but do you know how long their pads and discs last?
Well, you should otherwise your car could become very unsafe indeed!
To help you avoid worrying about your brakes, here’s what you need to know about the lifespan of brake pads and brake discs and how you can extend it.
Brake pads reached the end of their life? Why not see if you need to book a replacement by diagnosing your squeaky brakes?
How long do brake pads last?
The lifespan of brake pads can vary but they should last between 25,000 and 60,000 miles. On average, rear brake pads will last longer because most cars are front wheel drive, so the front brake pads work harder to help slow them down.
The lifespan of your brake pads is affected by your driving style, hence the 35,000 mile leeway. Aggressive braking is much worse for them as it increases their workload. We’ll cover this in more detail later on.
How long do brake discs last?
It’s harder to gauge how long brake discs last for, but you should expect 80,000 to 120,000 miles out of a set. Again, this is affected by your driving style and whether they are front or rear brake discs.
It’s worth checking both sets of brake pads and brake discs when you book an inspection. If one set has deteriorated, there’s always a chance that the other has as well. It’s also worth keeping track of brake pad and disc replacements in your vehicle’s service book. That way, you always have a rough idea of when to book your next brake check.
How much does it cost to replace brake pads and discs?
Brake pads and brake discs cost separate amounts. And, just to make it even more complicated, front brake pads cost slightly more than rear brake pads. What’s more, if your vehicle has a larger engine, the price will be more expensive as well.
All this means that you can pay between £100 and £400 for a full brake pad and disc replacement, including labour costs!
However, because prices can vary, it’s always best to contact a garage and get them to give you a full estimate. Book My Garage can put you in touch with over 9,000 UK garages, all of whom offer transparent estimates upfront for brake replacements. That way, you can shop around and find the very best deal!
How will I know when my brake pads and discs are coming to the end of their lives?
Your brakes won’t stop working without warning. It’s important to look out for the major warning signs of brake failure and, more importantly, act upon them. If you notice any of the following, book a brake check with Book My Garage as soon as possible:
A grinding noise
A slight squeaking may be natural, but a loud grinding noise (like sheet metal ripping), is much more severe. This means your wear indicator is rubbing against the brake rotor, which is a sure-fire sign that you need new brake pads immediately.
Not every noise is bad news. Find out when you should really worry about your squeaky brakes here!
Soft or spongy brakes
Pumping the brake pedal and feeling no response is a scary experience. It also means that you need new brake pads or discs! Always book an appointment when you push the pedal and don’t feel any response or can push the pedal flat to the floor. A fully operational brake pedal should sit at least a few inches above the floor at all times.
Modern cars recognise brake pad wear. When brake pads are less than 3mm thick, they become dangerously unsafe. If your car has a sensor monitoring this, you’ll either receive an error message to inform you or see a warning light.
Don’t ignore it!
You find it difficult to control your car under braking
Veering to one side under braking or vibrations in the brake pedal are both signs that you need to change your brake pads or discs.
If your car doesn’t brake in a straight line, it’s likely that you have uneven pad wear. If you feel the steering wheel pulling to one side when you press the brake pedal, book a brake pad replacement as soon as possible.
Likewise, vibrations can mean your brakes have warped due to excessive heat or that your brake discs are worn or damaged. Either way, you shouldn’t have to deal with vibrations. Your car should brake smoothly and steadily and you shouldn’t feel the need to slam the pedal all the way down.
How can I make them last longer?
Your driving style has a massive effect on how long your brakes last. If your brake pads last nearer 25,000 miles rather than 60,000 miles, you may want to change your driving style. Here are some simple tips you can adopt, saving yourself money in the process!
Heavy braking generates more friction. This produces a lot of heat and puts a lot of unnecessary strain on your front brakes.
Don’t wait until the last minute to brake. Start slowing down early and gently squeeze the pedal until you come to a stop. Not only will it make your brakes last longer, it’s also generally safer!
Avoid riding the brakes
How often do you sit with your foot on the brake at a red light? If the answer is ‘regularly’, consider using the handbrake instead!
Holding your car on the foot brake, and riding the brakes down hills, can cause the pads to wear quicker than usual. When you pull up to a set of lights, pull the handbrake up and take your foot off the brake pedal. When going downhill, try to avoid using the brakes. Keep the car in a low gear and try to use engine braking where possible.
Try and avoid rush hour as much as possible
Driving in heavy traffic means more braking. And more braking means more wear and tear for your brake pads.
While it might not be easy to avoid rush hour, your brake pads’ lifespan will increase if you can. The same goes for motorway driving. Braking from a higher speed creates more friction and causes the pads to rub more and more.
When you follow another car too closely, you may need to brake heavily if they start slowing down.
Keep your distance and slow yourself down gently when following in traffic.
Remove unnecessary weight
The heavier your car, the harder your brakes have to work. And, as modern cars are heavy enough as it is, unnecessary loads make the problem a lot worse.
Only take what you need on each journey. Don’t leave heavy items in the boot of your car and don’t overload your car when you go away on holiday. You’ll see a boost to your fuel economy as well!
Use engine braking
Your engine can slow itself down on its own. When you take your foot off the accelerator, the engine will decelerate. This allows you to push the brake pedal later and with less force.
When slowing down, start decelerating sooner and let the engine take some of the strain away from your brakes.
Clean your brakes with the rest of your car
This can remove dirt, dust, gravel and rust which improves the quality of your brakes. This, in turn, reduces the chance of further rusting and damage to your brakes.
Further Reading: More tips to help your brake pads last longer
Brake pads should last anywhere between 25,000 and 60,000 miles, with brake discs lasting between 80,000 and 120,000 miles. There are lots of easy ways to make these last longer, such as gentle and engine braking. If you make your braking smoother, you can make your brakes last longer – removing some of the costs associated with brake pad replacement.
Mandy is an ex-mechanic, with 22 years’ experience in the motor industry. As an in-house motoring expert, Mandy is the go-to woman for any relevant questions that our customers have; both garages and drivers. From specific problems with your car to general maintenance, Mandy is a reliable source of information and advice. Her passion for motoring is a huge factor to her success and the huge wealth of knowledge that she has. She now uses her remarkable grasp of the industry to write regular content for our readers to help drivers understand their car better, avoid being ripped off by garages and save money on their motoring requirements.