Checking brake pads on a vehicle – what you should do

The brake pads on a vehicle are subjected to high levels of wear and tear. They are the parts of the braking system which are squeezed against the brake discs whenever you place your foot on the brake pedal. It’s the friction from this happening that causes your car to slow down and stop. You can see why brake pads wear out over time, given the amount of occasions they come into contact with the brake discs.


Brake pads that are excessively worn are dangerous. The wear means that they are not as effective when they are pushed against the brake discs. This means that the car does not slow, or stop, as efficiently as it should.

How often should brake pads be replaced?

There is no one answer to this question. The amount of wear on brake pads is dependent on several factors; the most important of which is how the vehicle is driven. The more often that brakes are used, the more the brake pads become worn. This is why it’s important to drive efficiently. Brakes should be used only when needed and not because you drive too close to the car in front, so you constantly have to brake in order to avoid a collision. This is a common bad habit when it comes to driving; especially in queues of traffic.

No matter how you drive, if your car is more than two years old you should have the brake system, including the pads, checked by a professional at least twice a year. If there is a problem with the braking system, the professionals can help with repairing your car; including replacing worn brake pads.

Checking brake pads yourself

You can check the brake pads on your car, in-between visits to the garage. You may feel as though this is necessary if you notice any signs of possible wear such as a squeaking of squealing noise when you press on the brakes, lack of braking power or a longer distance needed for the car to come to a halt.

The brake pads on your car are set in calipers and there is an inspection hole at the top through which you can see whether the pads are seriously worn. In most cases you will need to remove the wheels on the car in order to check the pads on both sides of the brake discs.

The experts differ as to how worn the pads need to be before they should be replaced. Some recommended replacement when the break pad is ¼ of an inch thick; some recommend replacement when the pad is down to 25% of its original thickness. The thickness of a brake pad when new is usually around ½ an inch. If you have any doubts about inspecting the brake pads on your car, or whether they need to be replaced, you should speak to an expert.

Making sure that the brake pads on your car are in good condition is important. You should ensure that they are checked on a regular basis, by you or by a professional mechanic.

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