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How Do I Know If I Need New Brake Pads? Symptoms of Bad Brake Pads 

symptoms of bad rotors

If you are asking yourself, “how do I know if I need new brake pads?” You need to keep an eye and ear for symptoms like squeaking or grinding noises coming from the brake pads, weird vibration whenever you hit the brakes, difficulty stopping the vehicle, warning lights indicating issues with the brakes, and brake pads becoming thinner than usual. 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Brake pads are one component of the braking system, one of the most sensitive systems that you need to make sure it's working properly to avoid undesirable outcomes.

Over time of use, brake pads can wear out because they're not designed to last forever, and there will be a point where you must place them.

If you're wondering, how do I know if I need new brake pads? This article is purposely for you! We provide you with a general overview of how brake pads work, the main symptoms indicating that your brake pads are going bad, and a rough estimate of expected repair costs for replacing your brake pads.

How do brake pads work? 

Brake pads are one component of the entire braking system responsible for keeping you safe and stopping your car whenever needed.

The brake system works in a very simple manner. All that happens whenever you hit the brake pedal, the cylinder connected to the brake pedal since a certain brake fluid to the calipers connected to the brake pads.

Once the caliper receives a certain pressure from the brake fluid, it engages the pads, creating friction around the wheels this topic.

Immediately after you remove your foot from the brake pedal, the entire process goes back to normal, and your vehicle's wheels continuously drive. 

How do I know if I need new brake pads? 

Since brake pads are a crucial component within one of the most important systems in your vehicle, the braking system, it is important for you as a driver to familiarize yourself with any symptoms indicating that the brake pads are going bad.

Detecting this problem early can help you save your life and save other people's lives around the road. Without a working brake pad, you won't be able to stop your car at the right time, which significantly increases the potential risks of crashes.

Our team conducted an in-depth review of the most common symptoms of bad brake pads, and we summarized them in the list below: 

  • Weird squealing noises 

When the brake pads wear out to a certain level, the first thing you will notice is weird squealing and squeaking noises coming from the location of the brake pads.

What happens here is that the brake pads are worn out to a level that does not allow them to do their jobs, and all they do is just squealing to stop the vehicle completely. 

At some point and when the brake pads wear out completely, you'll notice some very loud grinding noises. Unfortunately, reaching the grinding noise level indicates that the issue impacts the rotors and other components around your braking system. 

The good thing about brake pads is that they are designed in a way that makes them create some loud noises enough for you to detect them so you can replace them before putting yourself at risk. Therefore, whenever you hear any weird noises coming from the braking system, you must take your vehicle immediately to the repair shop to inspect them and replace them if necessary.

  • Problems with vibrating every time you hit the brakes

In some scenarios, you might notice some weird vibration happening every time you hit the brake system. Unfortunately, if your car started vibrating every time you engage the brake system, the problem is most likely impacting additional components, not only the brake pads, which means that those components might need to be replaced as well.

Hopefully, you detect problems with damaged pads earlier on by just keeping an eye and ear for any squealing and squeaking noises.

  • Difficulty stopping the vehicle 

One of the very dangerous symptoms indicating that the brake pads are not in good shape is challenges and difficulties solving the car. If you notice that you need to press the brake pedal very hard to get your vehicle to stop, you're dealing with a very serious situation. You must take your vehicle to the nearest repair shop as soon as possible to resolve the issue. 

One main issue that might also happen when you have difficulty stopping the vehicle is a brake fluid leak. If the braking system does not have the necessary pressure level specified in your owner’s manual, you will find it very hard to stop the car. 

  • Warning lights indicating bad brakes 

In some modern cars, you might see a warning light on the dashboard indicating that the brake pads are not in good condition. 

In general, whenever you see anywhere in life on the dashboard, you must take the problem seriously. While sometimes the problem might be linked to a simple issue, it can also indicate major trouble that affects some safety features like the brake pads.

Immediately after seeing something like the anti-lock braking system a BS light, you must take the issue seriously and inspect all braking system components to avoid dealing with safety issues. 

  • Thinner brake pads

Another early inspection you can do is visually take a look at the brake pads here. If you notice that the brake pads are thinner than usual, this indicates that they will go bad sometime soon, and you'd better replace them.

If you don't have a sense about how thin it is OK for the brake pads to be, shoot for something around 1/4 of an inch thick. If the brake pads are less than this threshold, you must replace them immediately to avoid undesirable outcomes. 

How often should I replace the brake pads? 

According to automotive experts, replacing the brake pads should be done once every 50,000 miles. Keep in mind that this threshold might not apply to you because it depends heavily on your driving style and environment.

A good way to determine when it's the right time to replace your brake pads is by keeping an eye and ear for any of the mentioned symptoms of a bad brake pad. 

It doesn't hurt to keep brake pads in your regular maintenance and inspect them whenever possible to avoid dealing with major complications that could cost you thousands of dollars, if not your life, when the brake pads go back completely. 

How much does it cost to replace the brake pads? 

Depending on your vehicle's type, the brake pad replacement cost can differ significantly. In general, the average cost of 1 brake pad replacement is about $150 for only one axle. Your progress in some more modern vehicles, replacing one brake pad might cost you up to $300, if not more.

The other thing to consider when shopping for brake pad replacement costs is labor costs. As you might already know, labor cost is much more expensive if you go to a dealership versus when you go to a small independent repair shop.

However, many modern vehicles prefer to go to the dealership even if it will cost them much more. They are confident that they will find advanced skilled mechanics who won't introduce major damages to the vehicle.

Thus, before deciding where to replace your vehicle's brake pads, consider a balance between the level of experience and replacement costs. 

Can I drive with a bad brake pad? 

It is never recommended to continue driving your car if you know that big pads are in a bad situation.

For example, if you notice some harsh metal loud grinding noises, this is a severe sign indicating that your brake pads are not good, and you should never continue driving.

However, if brake pads are starting to wear out, you might be able to drive the vehicle for a certain distance spot never delayed issue to avoid dealing with major complications. 

Should you replace all four brake pads at once? Play 

That's a very common question that we receive from many of our customers. In general, you would want to replace both front brake pads at the same time here. Similarly, for the rear brake pads, you should also replace them at the same time.

However, none of the automotive experts indicated that you must replace all four brake pads at the same time because the front part of your vehicle behaves differently than the rear part. Depending on your powertrain and your suspension system, some stress might be put on one location more than the other. Thus, It's not necessarily I must replace four brake pads simultaneously unless you're 100% sure that the four of them have problems. 

Can you check brake pads without removing wheels? 

Definitely! Many drivers think that to check their brake pads, they must remove the entire wheels. However, the common practice for checking their brake pads does not require removing the wheels, which means that you can 100% take a closer look at the brake pads without needing additional work of removing any surrounding components.

When brake pads are not in good shape, it will be very obvious, and you don't have to look behind the wheels to confirm an issue in the brake pads. 

Do front brakes wear faster than the rear? 

Yes, this on our automotive experience, we've realized that brake pads are usually experiencing more pressure and stress in the front portion than those in the back.

More heat and friction are expected to happen at the front brake pads, making them very susceptible to damage faster than the rear ones. 

Are front or rear brakes more important? 

One of the very common misconceptions is that some people think some brake pads are more important than others. However, that's not the case.

All brake pads are equally important, which means that you need to make sure both rear and front brake pads are in good condition to ensure safety.

Front brake pads are usually important in stopping your car in most situations. However, if you apply to very strong braking, the rear pads usually engage faster than the front pads to provide you with more vehicle stability.

Thus, while the front pads are usually used more, rear pads are extremely important, especially if you're driving on slippery roads or harsh terrains. 


The braking system is one of the very sensitive systems you must keep an eye for in your vehicle. Without a perfectly running braking system, you put your life and other people's life around you in danger.

Brake pads are one of the very important components within the braking system, and these components are not designed to last forever., which means that you will deal with the point where you must replace the brake pads.

Many inexperienced drivers might find it challenging to determine when is the right time to replace the brake pads. In general, when the brake pads go bad, you will hear squealing and grinding noises. Also, you'll find it hard to stop the vehicle, and you might experience some vibration every time you hit the brake pads.

If your vehicle has other major problems related to the engine or the transmission aside from the brake pads issues, it might be the right time to sell your car to Cash Cars Buyer and use the money towards a better vehicle that doesn't have any problem. 

Cash Cars Buyer is one of the top-rated car removal companies in the nation that guarantees to pay you the top dollars and will provide you with free towing despite your living location around the United States. 

The best thing about Cash Cars Buyer is that our process is very straightforward and doesn't take more than a couple of days to get your vehicle removed safely and for the most money. 

To learn more about our process and our team, you can reach out to us by giving us a call at 866-924-4608 or visit our home page click on the free instant online offer.

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