How long do brakes last anyway? This is a common question at our shop, and a question that has many answers because many factors determine how long brakes last. First is the vehicle weight. Although larger vehicles such as SUVs have beefier brakes, they are heavier and can tend to wear the brakes out quicker, especially if they are driven up and down mountains frequently. Another important factor is your driving habits. If you drive mostly highway miles, with little braking, and maybe even use your stick shift to downshift to help slow down, you may get 100,000 miles or more out of your brake pads. Most people, however, get 25,000 to 35,000 miles out of there front brakes and 40,000 to 60,000 miles out of there rear brakes. Since the front brakes take more of the wear during braking, you typically change the front brakes two times for every one set of rear brakes.
When a vehicle is brought to us for a brake inspection a typical complaint we get is that the vehicle shutters while braking. This is usually indicative of the rotors warping due to the heat generated during hard braking. Usually we can machine the rotors to smooth them out and eliminate the shutter, though there is a limit as to how thin we can machine the rotors before they have to be replaced.
Another typical complaint is that the brakes make noise. This can be caused by dirty brakes, thin pads, squeakers designed to alert you that your brake pads are getting thin, or the metal on metal sound that is made when your brake pads are completely worn through. If you drive your vehicle until the brakes make the metal on metal sound, you will probably need new rotors in addition to the new pads. This can double the cost of a brake repair and should be avoided if at all possible.
European Cars tend to use softer metals for the rotors which give you better braking characteristics. Unfortunately, the rotors will tend to wear out more quickly and will usually need to be changed when the brake pads are changed. Each Brake Job should also include a brake fluid flush to remove dirty brake fluid and keep the brake system working properly.
When we perform a brake check at Wayne’s Automotive Center we will typically give you an estimate in percentage as to how much brake pad you have left on the front and rear brakes. Do note that if we say 50% pad left, that the second 50% will wear quicker than the first 50% because there is less pad to dissipate the heat.
If you have any questions about your brakes, or what someone is recommending to you, please call (775) 356-6996 or email [email protected] and we will be happy to answer your questions.