Okay, how long do brake pads last? It depends. Some drivers need to change brake pads every 30,000 miles or less. Others can go over 60,000 miles before needing a brake job.
Is it possible to make brake pads last 100K miles? Realistically? No. Would we recommend it? No. But in many ways, you control how long your brake pads last. You can extend their life. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Last month on #TELLTHETRUTHTUESDAY, we asked our Facebook page followers to tell us the longest time they’d waited between brake jobs and what happened.
Here’s a sample of our favorites:
“100k. The pad wore so badly that the metal plate slipped off the caliper causing my caliper to overextend and lock my wheel.”
– Austin B.
“Had an 02 rendezvous drove it for 4 years and shattered the piston in the caliper.”
– Josh A.
“Pads completely gone and down to the ribs. The break dust sprayed down my truck and stained the paint orange.”
– Tyler C.
“Wish I had pictures. There was literally no pad pushing against the inside of the rotor, just the piston to the caliper. It finally locked up on me as I was backing it up to jack it up to do the job!”
– Michael M.
“I ran out of pad 20,000 miles ago. I’ll keep driving it till the rotors grind all the way off. I have learned to enjoy the grinding sound. It calms the soul.”
– Lucas A.
How Long Do Brake Pads Last? 5 Tips to Change Your Answer
From a pure safety issue, we definitely don’t recommend waiting as long as the people above to change your pads and brake hardware. But extending the life of your brakes (and saving money) is possible if you follow the five tips below.
1. You Need to Slow Down
You may like to drive fast but your brakes pay the price. Stopping from high speeds is the #1 enemy of brakes and will wear them out faster than anything. The energy and heat produced from repeated stopping at high speeds, aka “brake fade”, will kill brakes before their time.
2. Penny Wise and Pound Foolish
If you’re hearing brake noises or feeling weird vibrations when you drive, you need to diagnose the problem ASAP. Waiting too long is not only horribly unsafe but also poor money management since in the end you’re going to have to spend more money to repair the damage.
Putting old brake hardware on new brake pads is another foolish move. It costs less than $20 for new brake hardware, which has been proven to extend the life of new pads and reduce noise. Buy the pads and hardware and save your brakes.
3. Think “Roller Coaster”
You know how roller coasters use the energy from the beginning to speed through lots of twists and turns? The same principle applies to your car. When you coast, you slow down without braking, preserving your brakes for the next time. You know you’ll get stuck at the light at the end of the freeway off ramp, so coasting down to 45 mph from 65 mph before stopping isn’t a waste of time. It’s a way to extend your brake pad life.
4. Flush and Bleed (Your Brakes)
An inexpensive, easy task for DIYers is changing brake fluid, also called brake bleeding or flushing. Like anything that requires maintenance, the brake fluid should be changed every few years. Why? The internal components will last longer and the brakes will work better – aka longer– when you flush the brake fluid.
5. Mom was Right—Buy Quality
If you buy cheap brake pads or stick your old hardware on new ones, don’t whine or be surprised when the pads wear out quickly. Quality brake components are part of complex systems, designed for specific uses. Be sure to ask your mechanic or someone at the auto parts store to recommend the right pads and hardware for your area.
So back to our original question. How long do brake pads last? And can they go 100K miles? It may be impossible to go 100K without harming your braking system. But boosting your brake pad life and saving money in the process? Absolutely possible!