Are your vehicle’s brake pads and rotors in good condition? Checking and replacing worn brake parts is vital to ensuring a safe ride, but it can be confusing to know exactly when, why, and which brake components need to be fixed. Fortunately, there are signs to help you identify when your brake pads and rotors — the most frequently replaced parts of your braking system — must be examined and replaced.
What are Brake Pads and How Long Do They Last?
The brake pads on most modern vehicles are located on each of the two front wheels. When you apply your brakes, two big clamps called calipers grab a metal rotor that’s positioned on the back side of each wheel. The calipers are fitted with pads to reduce friction and prevent the screech from metal-on-metal contact. (In fact, hearing noise when the brakes are applied is one sign that brake pads need to be replaced.)
How long brake pads can last depends on driving conditions. Do you brake a lot? Are you driving in stop-and-go traffic regularly? Brake pads on your vehicle might only last for 3 years or 30,000 miles. If you spend a lot of time driving on the highway and refrain from slamming on the brakes frequently, you might get as much as 7 years and 70,000 miles from your brake pads.
What are Brake Rotors and How Long Do They Last?
Your brake rotors are attached to the front wheels on your vehicle. When you push down on your brake pedal, calipers that are fitted with brake pads grab on to the rotors. Sometimes, the rotors can come out of round, making it harder for the calipers to make proper contact.
Worn or out-of-round rotors can be reshaped in a process called turning, but it must be done by a knowledgeable mechanic. Rotors can be turned once or twice before they need to be replaced entirely, usually around the 70,000-mile mark. Ask a technician at our auto service center in Blue Springs for advice about turning or replacing your brake rotors.
How Do You Know if You Need New Brake Pads or Rotors?
You can also go by your average miles traveled and automatically have your pads replaced and rotors checked every 30,000 miles or so. On most vehicles, you can also inspect the brake pads by looking through your wheel’s spokes or cutout areas. Look for pads that are less than 1/4-inch and make sure they are inspected by a qualified mechanic and replaced.
Always listen carefully to your brakes. If you notice a clicking or squealing sound when you stop, have your pads checked and replaced. Other signs that your brake pads or rotors need to be checked and replaced include your car pulling to one side when you brake or the brake pedal vibrating. Of course, if you notice that your braking system simply isn’t as fast as it once was, it may be necessary to have a check-up from your dealership or a qualified mechanic.
If you do not replace brake pads when they are worn, you risk increasing the friction and heat to your entire braking system, which can put undue stress on the rest of the components. This could lead to premature failure or problems with stopping quickly. Installing new brake pads on worn rotors can make your brakes less efficient and require you to replace the pads more often.
What is the Cost to Replace Brake Pads and Rotors?
The brake pads on most modern vehicles can be replaced for an average cost of a couple hundred dollars. You will need to replace both sides at the same time, as it’s the most cost-effective solution You might pay more for brake pads that are made from ceramic or different types of metal alloys that are supposed to be more durable. As well, some vehicle models will cost more for any type of brake service due to the positioning of the braking system.
You will likely spend about twice that amount to replace a rotor. While turning or reshaping was once a cost-effective method for extending the life of your rotor, the cost today can be nearly as much as total replacement, so most drivers opt for a complete brake rotor replacement.
Can you replace brake pads or rotors yourself? Typically, it’s a good idea to leave this job to the professionals. The safety of your braking system depends on the proper installation of all components. Near Columbia and Jefferson City, McCarthy Toyota of Sedalia’s service department can perform an inspection of your brakes and repair parts or replace worn brake pads. (You can even save money on your brake repairs with our special service coupons.)
Can You Make Your Brake Pads and Rotors Last Longer?
The best way to make your brake pads and rotors last longer is to engage in driving habits that minimize heavy braking, including following the speed limit and watching traffic carefully so you can slowly brake or coast when possible, such as when you’re approaching a stoplight. Scheduling regular maintenance and checks so worn parts don’t impact other components is also a key part of making your brake pads and rotors last longer.
In fact, regular inspections as part of your recommended maintenance schedule are the best way to ensure that your brake pads and rotors are working as they should. Consult your McCarthy Toyota of Sedalia brake service center for maintenance recommendations that will keep your vehicle safe and help you catch issues before they become more difficult and expensive to repair. Contact us at 660-826-5400 to speak with a technician or simply schedule a service appointment online.