We’re often asked how long brake pads are meant to last, but that question is like asking how long is a piece of string. A major contributing factor that influences the lifespan of your brake pads is driving style and habits, and this is unique to every driver. Of course, there are general guidelines that brake manufacturers can provide, which is useful when buying new brakes to compare brands.
Factors that influence brake pad lifespan
On average, brake pads should last up to about 55,000 kilometres in urban areas and about 125,000 kilometres on highways, but will vary depending on the vehicle and the driver. Some key influencing factors that make the difference are:
- Brake pad material – Ceramic brake pads generally last longest over semi-metallic and organic pads.
- Driving conditions – Brakes are used more often when driving in high traffic and urban areas than on free-flowing highways or quiet, open roads. Mountainous roads and hilly terrain also require more braking which causes faster wear and tear due to more friction and heat.
- Driving style – Riding the brakes (depressing the pedal more than necessary) causes them to wear prematurely.
- Vehicle make and model – Larger, heavier vehicles and commercial trucks are sold with more heavy duty brakes since they’re expected to carry a heavier load than passenger cars, and high-performance cars come with high-performance brakes because they’re pushed to the limit. If you push your car that is made for general every-day driving over the limitations it was designed for, you’re bound to chew through brake pads a lot faster.
The 4 types of brake pads
Some car manufacturers do require fitting original equipment manufacturer (OEM) components in order to comply with warranties, while others have OEM-equivalent options made by aftermarket manufacturers. You might want to consider the latter option to save money, if so, make sure that you buy from a trusted brand and check that it is backed by a mileage warranty.
Depending on the type of vehicle, OEM brake pads are made from either one of three materials:
- Organic – These quieter, softer brake pads are good for the rest of the brake components, but their braking ability is lower and their lifespan shorter. They are typically fitted on lighter-weight vehicles.
- Semi-metallic – A combination of copper, iron, steel, graphite, and other materials in this brake pad enhances braking ability, but wears out rotors or drums faster than the softer organic brake pads. These are the most commonly used brake pads for the majority of vehicles on the road.
- Fully-metallic – These brake pads offer excellent braking ability in just about any road conditions, but similar to semi-metallic brake pads, they wear rotors or drums faster than organic pads.
- Ceramic – Constructed from ceramic and copper, these brake pads last the longest out of the four types and are the most expensive. While they tolerate high temperatures and wet conditions well, they do not withstand extremely low temperatures.
How to choose the most suitable brake pads
When choosing the best brake pads for your unique needs, the first consideration is the amount of stress you typically put your car under. This means thinking about the road conditions you most frequently travel as well as your driving style.
Harsh road conditions that require a lot of stops and starts, such as mountainous terrain will put a lot of stress on your brakes. Similarly, an aggressive driving style, habitually braking at the last moment to bring the car to a stop, for example, will put extra stress on brake pads and wear them out faster.
Don’t overlook the vehicle type. If you drive a larger vehicle like a SUV, organic brake pads will not be adequate, but may be a good option for a small city run-around.
If you typically drive on relatively normal road conditions and your driving style is good, your choice is easy and you can simply opt for the popular semi-metallic brake pads. These are the best overall choice for passenger cars for braking ability as well as affordability.
Supa Quick only stocks quality brake pads like ATE which come with a warranty against manufacturing defects. Regardless of what type of brake pads you choose, proper installation is important! Find a Supa Quick fitment centre and let the experts check or replace your brake pads.
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