How long do brakes last on a car?
No matter what precautions you take or how well you maintain your vehicle, at one time or another you will need to make repairs to your brakes. When your brakes need to be repaired or replaced, your car won’t be as safe until the work is complete because the brakes are so essential to the operation of the vehicle itself. While there’s no easy answer to the question of how long brakes will last, there are several factors that can influence how long your brakes will last for your car as well as ways to tell if your brakes require attention.
First of all, how do brakes even work?
Disc brakes use calipers that look and function essentially as clamps to put pressure on the brake pads, which look like a hockey puck sliced in half. The pads press down on the brake disc (or rotors) and the kinetic energy of your car moving forward is transferred into heat energy thanks to all that friction.1
What causes car brakes to wear out?
There really is no universal rule regarding how long brakes will last because there are so many factors that can speed up or slow down the degradation of your brakes. For instance, where you live matters. If you drive roads through hills or mountainous areas, you will wear down your brakes faster than someone living and driving on flatter terrain.1Additionally, city driving is much worse for brakes because of the prevalence of stoplights, stop signs, and traffic unlike driving long, straight country roads that don’t have so many stops.2The material of your brake pads can influence how long they last. Carbon-ceramic brake pads last longer but are expensive and therefore not as common, whereas steel and metal brakes are much more typical but don’t last quite as long.2 Driving behavior can make a difference in brake longevity as well because someone who drives more aggressively is more likely to frequently slam on their brakes, causing more wear and tear.2
Experiencing sudden pulling in one direction or the other? It could be your brakes wearing unevenly. Learn more here.
What’s a ballpark estimate on how long brakes last on a car?
Some sources will tell you 50,000 miles is a good, general guideline. Some will indicate a number anywhere between 25,000 – 70,000 miles with some people trying their best to get to 100,000, although that is not recommended.2While having a number to guide you might seem helpful, keep in mind that the difference in the range is almost twice the circumference of the Earth.
How do you know when you need new brakes?
When your mechanic replaces your oil or rotates your tires, they will also check your brakes to see the amount of wear and to ensure there are no issues. Between visits to your mechanic, your ears might be your best bet for detecting brake issues. Listen for squealing or grinding brakes. If you hear either sound, take your car to an experienced mechanic right away, especially for grinding brakes because this could be a sign that the brakes pads have been worn down to the metal plate that holds them and could be damaging your brake discs. 1This can be very dangerous because you might not be able to brake quickly enough to prevent an accident. 1
Learn how to deal safely with squealing brakes here.
What should you look for before it’s time to replace your brakes?
Before you will be able to hear squealing or grinding in your brakes, you may be able to tell that your brake pads are wearing down a bit if you press the brake pedal and notice it’s falling closer to the floor. 4This could also be a sign that your brake fluid is leaking.3If you notice a change in your brakes’ performance, check with your mechanic. Of course, noticing gradual changes in your brake pedal can be difficult when you drive your vehicle every day, which is why regular visits to an experienced mechanic are so important. 4 Also, if you notice a vibration in your car each time you use the brakes, you might have warped rotors. 3While this was something that could be repaired in the past, mechanics typically recommend completely replacing warped brake discs today. 2
One of the most essential systems in your vehicle is the braking system. Without brakes, your car wouldn’t be able to deaccelerate and prevent accidents, which is why it’s so important to be vigilant in maintaining the brakes in your car. While there’s no set brake replacement schedule that’s universal to all vehicles, locations, and driving conditions, there are ways to tell that your brake performance is declining. Listening for squealing or grinding and paying close attention to changes in the brake pedal are ways to keep an eye on your brakes. If you’re noticing any performance issues with your brakes, take your vehicle to an experienced mechanic. You can read more about how to safely deal with squealing brakes here.
- How Long Do Brakes Last? Car and Driver
- How Often Should Brakes Be Replaced? Your Mechanic
- Warning Signs You Need New Brakes J.D. Power
- When Do You Need to Replace Your Brakes? Cars.com
We include links to other websites in this article for your convenience. We do not endorse any content on these sites.
All product names, logos, and brands are the property of their respective owners. All company, product and service names used in this website are for identification purposes only. Use of these names, logos, and brands does not imply endorsement.
This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented.
Synchrony and any of its affiliates (collectively, “Synchrony”) make no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.