It is very dangerous to drive with worn brakes.

How often you change your brakes depends on what type of brakes you use, whether you are a hard driver, and what type of loads you carry.

If you are the kind of driver who drives fast in hard corners, you should expect your brakes to wear out faster than a careful driver.

Brake pads are made from a variety of materials: organic, semi-metallic, and ceramic. Ceramic brake pads have a longer life, with the organic ones being the least durable.

Finally, you must also consider the type of load to which you are exposing your car. If you have a trailer, you must expect the brake pads to be subjected to greater loads.

Most people will change their brake pads after every 40,000 to 60,000 miles. The above factors may cause you to change your brake pads earlier. You can check the thickness of the pads and make sure they are not less than ¼ inches thick.

Signs that you need to replace your brake pads

There are several signs of worn brake pads which must be observed. It is always best to check both the inner and outer brake pads with a lamp to make sure there is still material on them.

1. Brake light turns on

The brake light can be either yellow or red. If your brake light comes on, it could indicate that the brake fluid level is low, which is an indicator that the brake pads are worn out.

2. Low brake fluid level

Brake fluid should not disappear from your reservoir unless you have a leak. However, if the brake pads are worn, the piston will move outwards, creating more room for brake fluid. This causes the brake fluid level in the reservoir to drop.

3. Squeaking noise

A sure-fire way to know that you need new brake pads is if you hear a squeaking noise when braking. This is an indication that the pads are worn out and the steel underneath is coming into contact with the rotor. However, if you hear a grinding noise, it could be a problem with dirt getting into the calipers.

4. Vibrating brake pedal

Brake Pads

If your brake pads are worn out, you will notice that the brake pedal vibrates when you press the pedal. This makes the car unstable and it can be dangerous to drive the car at high speeds. A vibrating pedal could be a symptom of further engine problems.

5. Grinding metallic noise

Metal bridges are often attached to the underside of the brake pads and signal to the driver that it is time to change the brake pads. If you are driving and you hear the sound of metal grinding, you know that your brake pads are worn out and the metal burrs are grinding against the rotor. Such brakes make it very difficult to stop the car and if you continue driving you may cause an accident.

6. Brake pads that are less than ¼ inch

Finally, you can discover whether the brake pads need to be changed by simply checking them for wear. You can check this through the wheel spokes. If the brake pads seem to be less than ¼ inch, it is time to replace them. In some cases, part of the tire may be more worn than the rest. The solution is to change tires every 6 months.

RELATED: When should you replace your brake rotors?

How to change your brake pads

As soon as you notice that your brake pads are worn out, you must replace them immediately. If you have a trusted mechanic, he can do this for you for a small service fee. However, changing your brake pads is not that difficult. With the right tools, you can change the brake pads yourself.

Note that some brake pads require a computer to reset the pistons to be able to replace them. Check out: Replace brake pads with an electric parking brake

Purchase brake pads

First obtain the recommended brake pads from the manufacturer. These are sold in pairs in many garages. Brake pads are made of a variety of materials. The more durable they are, the more expensive they will be. Inform the service workshop about the make of the car, year of manufacture and price range. Note that rally brakes must be avoided on a normal car. This will lead to unnecessary wear of the rotors.

Lift and remove wheels

Next, place your car on a flat surface while waiting for the engine and brake components to cool down. First, loosen the wheel nuts with your wrench. Do not remove them completely; about a third of the way will do for now.

Use the jack to lift the car. Most cars have wedges for attaching the jack. Make sure that the area where you place the jack is solid ground. You can put some stones or blocks on the other wheels to prevent the car from rolling backward. Once you have lifted the car, you can place the jack stands for extra stability.

Remove the wheel on which you want to change the brake pads. If the wheel is stuck, you may need to tap your leg against the wheel to loosen it a little. Use a wire brush to remove any rust that may have accumulated on the rims, bolt holes and rotor mounting surface. When you are finished, apply some anti-seize agent.

Remove the brake caliper

A ring spanner must be used to remove the brake caliper bolts. The brake calipers wrap around the rotors and hold the brake pads. To brake the vehicle, the brake pads attach to the rotors. Due to the increased friction between the two, the brake pads wear over time. All this is done through hydraulic pressure. Just like the bolt holes, clean the rotors with a little WD-40 before reinstalling the brake calipers.

Replace, clean and reinstall pads

The pads are attached to the calipers with a set of metal clamps. Remove your old pads. In some cases, the pads can be a little tight, so you may need to use some force to remove them. Before applying the new pads, spray some lubricant on the metal edges. The lubricant must not come into contact with the brake pads, otherwise, the friction between the pads and the rotors will be reduced. Before testing your new brakes, make sure that the vehicle has sufficient brake fluid. Replace the brake calipers and the tire.


Your brakes should be replaced every 40,000 to 60,000 miles, but that depends on how you drive the car. Because if you brake fast and hard, you have to expect the pads to wear out faster. The wear rate can also be caused by heavy loads.

If you inspect your brake pads and there are less than 3mm or ¼ inches left, you should replace them. The moment you hear a squeaking noise from your brake pads, you know it’s time for a change.