Brake Pad Maintenance

Owning a vehicle is a convenience many of us in California are accustomed to. Some would even argue it's a necessity! This is why it is critical to service your vehicle at regular intervals. One of the most important maintenance steps is one you cannot ignore, checking and changing your brake pads.

Maintaining healthy brake pads is first and foremost a safety precaution. After that it can be considered preventative maintenance and can save you tons of money in the long run.

The Braking System's Longevity

Your braking system includes brake calipers, pads, and rotors, which work together to stop your vehicle. Eventually, these components will begin to wear down. When this occurs, your vehicle's brakes becomes less responsive and more dangerous to operate. Review of your brake pads should happen about every 50,000 miles, but some car makes & models need to have their pads replaced every 25,000.

For those still unsure about when to have their pads replaced, there are some tell-tale noises the brake system makes when maintenance is necessary.

Some of these include:

  • A screeching sound when brakes are applied
  • Grinding or squealing
  • A longer stopping distance
  • Vibrations through the brake pedal
  • A brake pedal that sits closer to the floor

Detecting Problems

For many brake issues, the first indicator is usually a change in how the vehicle “feels”. In many cases you may begin to notice a new vibration or that it requires more force to stop the vehicle. These are signs your vehicle needs maintenance.

Brake pads are usually the first in the system to fail, and they have a unique design which makes it very noticeable when it happens. If your brakes feel different then it may be time to visit an automotive professional.


Brake usage can play a role in pad operating efficiency. Having a “lead foot” can drastically decrease the life of your brake components and brake pads. Pushing down aggressively on your brake pedal, or braking too hard applies excessive heat into the pads and rotors. This can wear down your brake pads and damage the rotors in the long run.

Consider the Components

Larger vehicles, especially those used for towing/hauling, often have multiple braking systems. A common mistake is to assume the brake system will work properly if one of these redundant systems is inoperable. Many assume the working brake system is capable of carrying the load itself. This is, unfortunately, not true. Vehicles are designed to factory specifications and tolerances.

If you are only using half of the available brakes, you are damaging the entire brake system. Similarly within passenger vehicles, overuse can eventually lead to damaged pads and complete brake failure.

Saddleback Automotive Brake Repair

In fact, there's many reasons why brake pad maintenance is one of the most crucial parts of your vehicle's longevity.

While your vehicle's owner manual lists recommended routine maintenance, as a rule of thumb you should ask your mechanic to review the brake pads each time you have your tires rotated. This will allow the mechanic to visually inspect the thickness and condition of the brake pads and other brake hardware.

If you notice any of the above signs, bring your car to Saddleback Automotive so we can see if anything needs attention. Maintaining your vehicle helps keeps you safe while driving, and lowers the likelihood of a more serious and expensive issue.