parts are a mainstay of the aftermarket, thanks to the fact that brakes
wear out. The more miles motorists drive and the more they use their
brakes, the faster their brakes wear. Stop-and-go urban driving,
mountain driving, towing and aggressive driving will accelerate brake
wear, especially in larger, heavier vehicles such as full-size SUVs and
Some pads may be worn down to minimum thickness and
need to be replaced in as little as 30,000 to 40,000 miles, while
others may last upwards of 60,000 miles or more depending on how the
vehicle is driven and the type of friction materials in the pads.
Brake noise or brake pedal pulsation when braking are often the only clues that the brakes need attention.
motorists would have their brakes inspected periodically, they could
probably save some money on brake repairs. Replacing the pads before
they wear down to bare metal and damage the rotors can save the cost of
having to replace the rotors.
Time and environmental factors are other things that affect brake life, too.
the brakes age, the corrosion inhibitors in the brake fluid are used
up, leaving the system vulnerable to internal corrosion that can pit
and damage brake calipers, wheel cylinders and steel brake lines.
also dries out rubber hoses and seals, causing them to lose flexibility
and crack. This can lead to fluid leaks and brake failure. Wet weather
and high humidity can also increase the rate at which brake fluid
becomes contaminated with moisture, causing a decrease in the fluid’s
boiling temperature as well as increased corrosion inside the brake
Add to this the complexities of today’s antilock brake systems, and it is easy to see why the brakes often need repairs.
ABS warning light may indicate a serious problem in the brake
hydraulics or the ABS control or input electronics (bad wheel speed
sensors are the most common problem here).
A customer who is
shopping for new brake pads is often confronted with a range of
replacement options. These include low-priced “economy” pads to
higher-priced “premium” pads. There’s a product for every pocketbook.
Customers should be advised that they usually get what they pay for.
Value-priced pads won’t provide the same longevity, braking performance
or fade resistance as premium pads.
Ceramic-based friction materials
have been hot for quite a few years now, and most brake suppliers have
some type of ceramic pads in their product line. Just keep in mind that
all ceramics are NOT the same, and some deliver much better braking
performance, wear and noise suppression than others. Low dusting is
another feature of ceramics that appeals to many buyers, too.
Brake rotors are another wear item that may have to be replaced when the brake pads are changed.
the rotors are relatively smooth, have no hard spots (no pedal
pulsations when braking), no cracks or excessive rust, and are not worn
down to minimum thickness specifications, they can often be reused “as
is” (no resurfacing). But most repair shops recommend resurfacing the
rotors when pads are replaced to lessen the risk of noise and break-in
In California, there has been a highly publicized case
involving charges brought against a chain of repair facilities for
resurfacing rotors “unnecessarily.” Consumers say they were being
ripped off. But the shop owner insists that they were only trying to do
the best thing for the customer so they wouldn’t have comebacks due to
noise or other problems.
If rotors are damaged or worn too thin, they must be replaced for safety reasons. Rotors should usually be replaced in pairs.