1) How do brake pads work?
They slow your spinning wheels by applying friction
Brake pads are made up of friction-generating material mounted on a metal plate.
When you step on your brake pedal, your brake pads clamp down on both sides of your rotor (the shiny discs behind your wheels). This applies friction on your rotor which causes your wheels of your car to slow rapidly, eventually coming to a safe stop.
Each time you brake, the friction causes your brake pads and your rotor to wear down a little, eventually requiring replacement. Brake pads are typically changed in pairs (front pair or back pair), as doing otherwise could cause uneven braking and cause your car to pull towards one side.
2) How much do they cost to replace?
This depends on many factors. For basic brake pads, Asian cars: $80-160, Continental cars: $120-250.
The price of changing your brake pads depends on the 1) make and model of your car, 2) type of brake pads, 3) labor costs at the workshop.
As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay $80-160 to change brake pads for an Asian car while this is $120-250 for Continental cars1.
Different types of brake pads, such as performance brake pads, will cost a lot more to replace.
To get specific quotations for brake pads, you can ask Steer.
3) When should I replace my brakes?
2-3 years, but this depends on many factors
Brake pads on average tend to last approximately 75,000km or 2-3 years in Singapore’s heavy traffic. However, this can vary depending on 1) how often you drive, 2) how you drive, 3) the kind of brake pad you use.
Instead of changing it on a regular basis, Steer recommends changing it once it is worn out.
New brake pads are approximately 12mm in thickness and a change is usually required once it wears down to 3-4mm.
4) How to know when my brakes need replacing?
You can rely on your mechanic or check it yourself
Here are some ways you can check your brake pad wear:
Rely on your mechanic. When you send your car for regular servicing (which includes an engine oil change), your mechanic will typically check for brake pad wear and recommend a change if you need it.
Indicators (for some cars). Some newer cars have a warning sign that comes on when your brake pads need replacing.
Look at your brake pads. Brake pads can also normally be observed by visually inspecting it through the holes of the wheel. We recommend using a flashlight to do so.
Listen out for sounds. Squealing, grinding and growling sounds could mean your brake pads are worn. When you hear grinding sounds, your brake mechanism requires immediate attention as it could mean your brake pads are completely worn and your rotor is being grinded.
Observe for vibrations. When your steering wheel or brake pedals vibrate, it could mean your brake pads are worn.
5) What if I don’t replace them?
Other parts of your braking mechanism could be damaged, resulting in brake fade or brake failure
When your brake pads are completely worn, the metal clamps that hold your brake pads will grind against your rotor. Both the clamps and your rotor could be damaged as a result, which could require a costly repair or replacement.
Sometimes the damage to your braking system could happen when you are on the road, which could cause braking failure. While accidents due to a brake failure are relatively rare, we don’t think you should take any chances.
Brake pad wear could result in reduced responsiveness or brake fade. This means your braking distance could be increased, resulting in less maneuverability.
6) How do I make them last longer?
Avoid high speeds, coast to a stop, anticipate traffic and reduce unnecessary weight
Brake pads wear down faster if you brake hard and often.
We recently wrote about the 10 ways to save fuel costs by driving efficiently and many of these tips will also help to extend your brake pads’ lifespan such as:
Avoid high speeds: Your wheels are spinning faster at higher speeds which means more wear on your brake pads if you brake at higher speeds. Braking from 105km/h instead of 85km/h to a full stop forces your brakes to dissipate around 33% more energy2.
Coast to a stop: By slowing down naturally instead of using your brakes, you avoid wear on your brake pads. When exiting highways, slowing down naturally before braking will help in reducing brake pads wear.
Anticipate traffic: Traffic jams increase your braking frequency. If possible, avoid traffic jams to reduce wear on your brake pads; otherwise anticipating traffic ahead of you can prevent you from braking hard to stop.
Get rid of unnecessary weight: Extra weight from baby chairs, sports equipment and other heavy items make your brake pads work harder in order to slow down a heavier car. We recommend removing them if they are not needed.
7) Which are the best workshops to do it?
There are over 1,000+ workshops covering all corners of Singapore. Get started with a comprehensive list of workshops, sorted by customer ratings.
Most workshops will be able to change your brake pads. A list of workshops that can help you do so can be found here.
Book now with Steer to get exclusive discounts off your first servicing and a 5% cashback on top of that.
If you are not sure where to go or need quotations before deciding, feel free to ask Steer. All you have to do is describe your car needs and we will recommend you the most suitable workshops.
1 There are also American cars and other types of cars.
2 According to Ride Time