Brake Pad Replacement Cost: The Drive's Garage Guide
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So you want to replace your brake pads and are wondering how much it’s gonna cost. Wonderful, it’s an admirable goal when so many other people trust third-party mechanics or dealerships to do all their maintenance for them. That said, pricing isn’t as straightforward as it’ll cost “X” dollars.
Brake pads range in size, composition, and durability. Choosing the right brake pad will depend greatly on what your car’s manufacturer recommends. And some cars, like sports and performance cars, can go through far more brake pads than your average commuter. Like we said, there’s great variability in cost.
To reduce the headache forming at the front of your eyes, The Drive’s crack wrench monkeys have put together a little guide all about brake pads, including costs, longevity, and replacement. We also answer all your burning questions. Let's get after it.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Your Brake Pads?
Short answer: depends. The longer answer is that most brake pad replacements range between $30-$50 for 2-4 pads per wheel. That’s for your bone-stock Honda, Dodge, or Chevy. For those with far pricier rides, things that hit 200 mph, or cost as much as some small homes, it could be much more expensive. For example, a Porsche Taycan, Lamborghini Urus, or Ferrari F8 Tributo won’t have the same brake pads as a Nissan Versa.
The price will also increase if you have a mechanic or dealership do the work too, with labor prices falling between $150-$400 an hour.
How Long Do Brake Pads Last?
Exactly how long your brake pads last actually depends on a few variables, including manufacturer, the car you drive, and, most of all, how you drive. The Drive’s editors have already put together a brief guide on How Long Do Brake Pads Last, check it out!
What Are The Type of Brake Pads?
There’s a great variety in brake pad shapes, sizes, and construction. They can, however, all be categorized into three main types: non-metallic organic, semi-metallic, and ceramic. Each pad type has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the vehicle and the driver’s mission.
Ready for an info drop?
Not to be confused with the dangerously toxic asbestos brake pads, non-metallic organic brake pads use organic fibers within the friction surface of the brake pad. Though quieter than semi-metallic brake pads, non-metallic organic brake pads wear the fastest of all brake pads.
Semi-metallic brake pads are the most common brake pad used. The friction surface is made up of embedded metallic fibers to help reduce the amount of brake fade at high heat. They produce larger amounts of brake dust compared to a ceramic pad.
Ceramic brake pads are the most expensive of the lot, but that’s because they offer the most performance and longevity. These pads are made of ceramic and copper fibers embedded in the friction surface. They’re designed to wick away heat with less fade and reduce the amount of brake dust.
How Do I Know if My Brake Pads are Worn?
Figuring out that your brake pads are blown is sometimes completely obvious. You may lose braking pressure or performance, neither of which are good. And if you’ve broken a few mirrors recently or dissed a witch, you may find yourself mingling with your garage wall.
There also may be a squeaking noise originating from your brakes. As the pads push against the rotor and wear down, the backing plate of the pad contains a slot that will cause an audible squeak as you brake. It’s unmistakable.
You’ll know it when you hear it.
How Do I Replace My Brake Pads?
We know you’ll want to try replacing your brake pads yourself, testing your garage god status, and comparing it against your friends to see who can do it the quickest—the author’s personal record is an hour and a half in his in-laws’ garage with a bare minimum of tools. To aid you in that goal, head over to The Drive’s How To Replace Brake Pads guide!
You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!
Q. So, Can I Just Replace My Brake Pads or Do I Have to Replace the Rotors Too?
A. The only time you’ll need to replace your brake pads and rotors is when the pads are worn and your rotors are warped, though that doesn’t happen often. Rotors are engineered to last about 50,000-80,000 miles for standard steel. Carbon-ceramic discs will last longer.
Q. Should I Replace All My Brake Pads At Once?
A. You don’t have to. A shop can measure how much friction material you still have left on each pad. If you’re within a still healthy spec, you’re good to keep driving. If you’re out, you’ll need to replace them. That said, it’s a good idea to replace in sets. If you do one front wheel, do the other. If you do one rear wheel, do the other. This helps with even brake feel, even braking, and even brake wear.
Q. How Much Is It To Replace the Brake Pads and Calipers?
A. Why do you think you need to replace your brake calipers? Brake pads and rotors are wear items, your calipers aren’t. Like pads, the replacement cost for your rotors will depend on your vehicle and the construction of those rotors, i.e. steel versus carbon-ceramic.
Q. Do You Bleed Your Brakes When You Replace Your Pads?
A. You may not have to, but it’s good to make sure that air didn’t enter the system.
Q. What Happens If You Wait Too Long To Change Your Brake Pads?
A. Well, do you enjoy hitting a tree?
A. Then there’s your answer.
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