How Long do Brake Pads and Rotors Last?

Mechanic Working On Brakes


Your brakes are a crucial component of your vehicle, and it is important to make sure that your brake pads and rotors are cared for properly and replaced as needed. Let’s look at brake pads and rotors: When should they be replaced and how can you tell if something is starting to fail?

So, how long do brake pads and rotors last? Brake pads can last anywhere between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. Their longevity depends on your driving style and typical driving conditions. Using data provided by Federal Highway Administration statistics on how many miles people drive annually, typical brake pads will last between 3 and 7 years.

Brake rotors last roughly 70,000 miles, but they need to be inspected for uneven wear. If they do become slightly misshapen, you can have them turned or machined to be round again. This can usually be done two or three times before the rotors need to be completely replaced, but new technologies and increased labor costs may not make machining as cost-effective as complete replacement. Brake pad and rotor replacement could be more beneficial for San Antonio drivers like you. 

How Do Brake Pads Wear Down?

Brake pads are found on each of the two front wheels on most modern vehicles. Behind each wheel, a metal rotor is attached. A clamp (caliper) makes contact on both sides of the rotor when you apply the brakes. To soften metal-on-metal contact, removable brake pads sit on each caliper and actually make contact with the rotor. Each time you use your brakes, the friction produced to stop the car puts wear on the brake pads. Over time, these pads need to be replaced to ensure smooth (and quiet) braking. Rotors wear more slowly, but they can come “out of round” and need to be turned or replaced.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Brake Pads and Rotors?

Brake pads need to be replaced on each wheel. Though they may not wear at exactly the same rate, typically you’ll replace both sides at the same time. The average cost is several hundred dollars for both axles to be replaced; it can cost more depending on the model of car you drive. You may also pay more for brake pads constructed from semi-metallic or ceramic materials, which can perform better and be more durable.

Rotors cost more than brake pads. They can be turned, or reshaped, for significantly less than new rotors, but labor costs should be accounted for. Depending on the quality of the replacement rotors, you may find that total replacement is nearly as cost-efficient as turning.

What are the Signs that I Need New Brake Pads?

Wondering how long to change brake pads? The first indication that you need new brake pads is a squealing or grinding noise when you brake. Newer brake pads have a small metal tab that will emerge when the pad endures a certain amount of wear. This small metal piece will contact the rotor and make a squealing noise. It acts as an indicator that you’ll need to visit your car dealership’s service center or mechanic for brake pad replacement at your earliest opportunity. Clicking sounds could indicate that the brake pad is loose or damaged.

Other signs include:

  • Your car pulls to one side when you brake. This indicates uneven wear on your brake pads.
  • You need more time to stop than you used to. This is usually subtle, but you may notice your braking system isn’t as quick to respond as it once was.
  • You feel the brake pedal vibrate when you stop.

If you have any concerns about your brakes, it’s best to bring your vehicle to our dealership and let our qualified mechanics check your braking system. Schedule a brake inspection at our auto service center in San Antonio if you need assistance with brakes.

Is There a Difference Between Generic and OEM Brake Parts?

When it comes to your brake system, you want to make sure that your auto parts are well constructed, reliable, and under warranty. To be safe, OEM car parts are your best bet. Most OEM brake pads are quieter and cause less wear on your rotors than generic brake pads. 

How Can I Make My Brake Pads and Rotors Last Longer?

Now that you know how long brake pads and rotors last, you may be wondering how to prolong the lifespan of these components. There are a few driving habits that can help you get the most out of your brake pads and rotors in New Braunfels:

  • Your brakes will last longer if you obey the speed limit. Stopping at high rates of speed is very taxing on your brakes and will quickly wear down the pads.
  • Use your right foot for both gas and brake pedals. (Some drivers use their left foot to hit the brake before their right foot is completely off the gas, requiring more braking effort.)
  • Be aware of traffic in Bulverde. The more you can slowly brake or coast, the less stress you’re putting on your brakes. Stop gradually well before a traffic light, for example, rather than applying the brakes quickly when you get closer to the light.
  • Minimize the amount of weight in your vehicle. With less mass to stop, your brakes will have to work less.
  • Have inspections performed regularly. If your brake pads are worn, it puts more stress on your rotors and other parts. By replacing brake pads before they become highly worn, you’ll save the other components of your braking system.

Contact Northside Ford for More Information

If you drive with reasonable caution, follow recommended maintenance, and contact your dealership for regular brake service and vehicle maintenance, you’ll keep your brake pads and rotors lasting as long as possible, while also ensuring you and other drivers are safe. If you need help identifying or fixing braking problems in San Antonio, visit Northside Ford for professional brake pad replacement and rotor service. Our San Antonio Ford dealership and service center puts you first, no questions asked. Contact us today.

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