When Should I Replace My Brake Pads?

Published: 10/15/2010 by AutoShopit

When Should I Replace My Brake Pads?

Knowing when to replace your brake pads is key to properly maintaining the safety and function of your chosen vehicle. By keeping regular tabs on your brake pad status you will never get caught off guard and have to cut your plans short for an unanticipated visit to the garage (there is nothing worse than setting out on a long-distance road trip or family vacation and hearing that distinctive squeal as you pull out of the driveway!). Here are a few quick tips to help you recognize what to look for when examining your own brake pads for wear and tear:

Know what you’re working with: Before you can tell if your brake pads need replacing, you will need to know what a set of unused brake pads looks like right out of the package. Visit the automotive section of your local retail store to get an idea of what you should be looking at; a new set will typically measure around 12 mm in thickness, and exhibit no signs of wear.

Get a closer look: On your own vehicle, you should be able to spot your brake pads through the opening on the outside rim/wheel assembly of the front tire. For a closer look, you can also jack your vehicle up and remove the wheel, exposing the calipers and braking system for inspection. Use a flashlight to increase visibility, and get a second opinion if you don’t feel like you can see the pads well enough on your own.

Visually inspect: Evaluate the pads to see if they are worn down or uneven. Brake pads wear down on the inside first, and the most worn area is where you should be measuring. If the pad is measuring at less than 6 mm then you should plan on replacing it soon, and if it is down to less than 3 mm then you will want to replace it immediately so that you do not damage the rotor. If you can’t tell with a quick visual inspection, use a measuring tool that calculates in millimeters so that you can get an accurate read on the situation.

Listen in: By ear, you can also notice when your pads need replacing by listening in for a squealing noise when you press down on your brakes during driving. There are built-in noisemaking shims in the assembly to help you determine when the pads need changing, and when you hear that high-pitched screech, your brakes are most likely at the 2 mm mark and overdue for a change.

If you find that your brake pads are in need of replacement, you will want to schedule a visit with a mechanic as soon as possible in order to prevent damage to your vehicle or unsafe driving conditions. By conducting a search through our easy-to-use autoshopit.com database you will be able to find a selection of local mechanics that can meet your needs and also browse through customer reviews from other area residents who have used each garage’s services. 

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