How Often Should You Change Brakes

If you’ve been wondering how often should you change brakes, then the answer should be after 50,000 miles or so. However, that will still depend on several factors that need to be considered: the type of car you have and your behavior on the road.

What’s important is that you include having taking care of your car’s brakes as part of your vehicle’s routine maintenance. It’s estimated that were some 42,000 traffic fatalities in 2020. The last thing any responsible driver wants is to be included in that grim statistic.

This article will talk about properly taking care of your car brakes along with other topics like the telltale signs of faulty brakes and how often you should change them.

How Often to Change Brakes

On average, brake pads need to be replaced somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 miles. Meanwhile, the brake rotors are generally replaced around 50,000 and 70,000 miles. Most car manufacturers provide a specific number, so always check your car’s manual.

Some modern European cars have an electronic pad sensor installed in the vehicle. When the brake pads have worn out, it triggers a light somewhere on the dashboard. This is a clear indication that you need to have your brake pads inspected and possibly replaced.

Other car models use “feelers,” which produce a high-pitch noise when pressing on the brake. This sound indicates a possible issue with the brake pads that you need to address either by having it fixed or replaced.

What’s The Difference Between Rotors and Pads

car wheel

Changing your vehicle’s brakes refers to two specific components: the brake pads and the brake rotors. They both work for your car’s braking system, but they play different roles when it comes to stopping or slowing down your vehicle.

  • Brake rotors - are found inside every wheel. They are discs that spin at the same pace as your wheels. When you step on the brakes, it compresses around the rotors and effectively slows down the car. Brake rotors are thick and build for pressure, but it does wear down after a while.
  • Brake pads - are steel plates with frictional materials bonded on the surface. When you step on the brakes, the brake pads come into contact with the brake rotors. The friction it produces is what causes your car to stop. Due to the constant friction, brake pads need to be replaced more often compared to brake rotors.

Keep in mind that the front and the rear brakes wear out at different rates.

Should You Change Brake Rotors and Pads at the Same Time?


Experts would recommend that both brake pads and rotors have to be replaced at the same time. It might sound a little off, especially for drivers who only plan on replacing the brake pads. However, experts mechanics have a reason for that.

Your car’s brake rotors directly affect how the brake pads perform and wear. Some car owners who only replaced brake pads often experience uneven wear on the pads shortly after due to issues with the rotors. This forces them to replace the brake pads as well as the rotors prematurely.

If your local mechanic suggests replacing both pads and rotors, request a thorough inspection of the brake rotors to confirm that they are working smoothly. If not, it’s best to have the rotors replaced now to avoid extra costs and take more time away from your busy schedule later.

It is widely recommended that the pads and rotors are replaced by pairs and per axle. If one of the front brake pads wears out, it’s best to replace the other one on the same axle. Keep in mind that the front and the rear brakes wear out at different rates. The front brakes are doing the heavy lifting, so you may have to replace them more often.

It’s in your best interest to make sure the brakes are working as expected.

Why You Should Change Your Brakes

Routinely changing your brake pad and rotors help increase the efficiency, performance, and longevity of your car’s braking system. There’s more to driving than going from point A to B. You’ll never know what could happen in between trips.

Completely neglecting your vehicle braking system can lead to accidents that can put you or a bystander in danger. For example, if your worn-out brake pads don’t have enough friction, the car would take a while to stop. A faulty brake rotor may not have enough force to slow down the vehicle. Both of these scenarios can be dangerous, especially during an emergency.

Your car’s braking system is a lifesaver. It’s in your best interest to make sure the brakes are working as expected.

How Long Does It Take To Change Brakes?

Having your brakes replaced shouldn’t take long at the hands of a professional. Changing a brake pad often takes 30 minutes per wheel. Replacing a brake rotor can range from 30 to 60 minutes per wheel.

On average, it can take around 1 hour and 30 minutes for an expert to completely change the brake pads and rotors on all four wheels. It could take longer or quicker depending on the tools available.

It’s still best to rely on a professional to have your brakes changed. Doing it yourself might take you the whole weekend, especially if you don’t have the right tools.

How Much Does It Cost To Change Brakes?

On average, you can expect to pay between $115 and $270 per axle for brake pad replacement services. For brake rotor replacement, the price can range from $150 to $200 per axle. Replacing both brake pads and rotors can go from $400 to $500.

It’s essential to keep in mind that every professional mechanic charges hourly rates differently. Manufacturers also price their parts singularly. If you prefer to buy your own brake parts, you should expect the following prices:

  • Brake Rotors: The price ranges from $30 and $75 each. Prices could get higher depending on the quality.
  • Brake Pads: The price ranges from $35 to $150 for all four wheels.

What Are the Factors That Affect Your Brake’s Life Span?

black car

’s not easy to answer questions like how often you should change your brakes. That’s because many other factors can affect how long your brake pads and rotors can last before wearing out.

Here are some of them:

Type of Brake Pad Material

Your car’s brake pads can be made from three different materials. Each of these materials has its advantages and disadvantages that can affect its longevity.

  • Ceramic: Brake pads made of ceramic are perfect for high-traffic areas where drivers constantly make hard stops. Ceramic brake pads don’t wear out quickly and often last a long time. However, they are not designed for extreme driving conditions like cold climates. They are also the most expensive type of brake pad.
  • Organic: This type of brake pad is also called a non-asbestos brake pad. They are soft and don’t make any noise compared to the other types of brake pads. Unfortunately, organic brake pads wear out the fastest. If used on heavy vehicles or by an aggressive driver, this brake pad can wear out prematurely.   
  • Metallic: This brake pad material is made from a mix of bonded iron, steel, copper, and graphite. This combination of metals makes this type of brake pad highly durable and long-lasting. However, metallic brake pads are cumbersome, which could affect a car’s fuel economy.

Driving Style  

The way you drive can have a significant effect on your car’s braking system. Some drivers tend to step on the brake pedal more often, while aggressive drivers who are in the habit of tailgating are more likely to stop abruptly.

Carelessly using your brakes often can wear your brake pads and rotors quickly. If you want to get the most out of your brakes, consider gradually applying your brakes instead of going full stop.

Type of Car Transmissions

The type of transmission your vehicle has can affect your brake’s lifespan. For example, people using a stick-shift or manual transmission can get more mileage out of their brakes.

That’s because manual drivers can downshift or do engine braking, which helps slow down the vehicle. Automatic cars don’t have that option and must always rely on their brakes to slow down.

Driving Environment

Another critical factor that can affect your brake’s longevity is the driving environment. Driving in the city puts more pressure on your brakes compared to driving out in the country.

You are far more likely to use your brakes more often in the city due to stoplights and congested roads. Stop-and-go traffic also forces many drivers to make more hard stops. Mountainous areas and other steep elevations can also wear out your brakes faster.

Caliper Malfunctions

If your vehicle’s caliper becomes stuck, it’ll constantly rub against the rotor and quickly shorten your brake pad’s lifespan. The first indication of a caliper malfunction is a burning odor coming from the brakes.

At the first sign of a malfunctioning caliper, you need to address it as soon as possible. Ignoring the problem would not only damage the brake pads and rotors but could lead to expensive caliper replacements.

Bottom Line


Your car’s braking system is one of its most critical safety features. If your brake pads and motors are showing signs of wearing down, it’s best to have your vehicle checked by a professional. Your brake’s upkeep and maintenance not only help keep your vehicle in peak condition but also keeps you safe on the road.

Auto Works of Brandon offers comprehensive brake inspection services performed by reliable ASE-certified technicians. If you plan on having your brake system checked, contact us today to schedule an appointment and have your car’s brakes checked or fluids flushed.  


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