Replacing your Brake Pads. When is the right time?

When do I need to replace my brake pads?

The brake on your vehicle is designed to be changed around every 60,000km and are one of the most critical safety components on your vehicle. Your brake pads should be regularly inspected during planned or scheduled servicing and maintenance to ensure that the pad is replaced prior to causing further damage or wear on other braking components such as your brake rotor resulting in higher servicing and replacement part costs.

For best practice, we recommend you check your brake pads at every service interval to make sure they’re wearing evenly and have plenty of material left. If your brake pads are showing less than 3mm of pad material, we recommend replacing your brake pads as soon as possible. Brake pad wear patterns will vary based on the type of driving and loads you are carrying so it also important to select the right brake pad for your driving style. When inspecting your pad you should ensure that there is a minimum of 3mm of pad material remaining.

Aside from a visual inspection of pad material there are a number of ways to diagnose you brake pads may need replacing:

Do you have on-set squealing, screeching or grinding noise coming from your brakes?

The biggest give away that your brake pads are due for replacement is screeching noises coming from the brakes. Brake pads have a simplified wear indicator built into them that makes a scratching noise on the brake rotor when they’re at the lowest point of safe braking indicating they’re too low to perform at the optimum level. If you can hear a scratching noise, replace your brake pads as soon as possible. If you missed the initial scratching noise and its now a grinding noise this can mean that you’ve run out of brake pad material and you’re now braking with metal on metal. If that’s is the case, you’re going to do a lot more damage to you braking and steering components every time you drive it. We suggest you have your brake pads replaced immediately to minimise the repair bill costs and to keep you safe.

Does your car have a pedal vibration or brake shudder?

When placing your vehicle under heavy braking load do you notice a vibration or shudder coming through your steering wheel or pedals? Pedal & wheel vibration in the car can be one of two things to do with your brakes, firstly it can be a warped or scalloped brake rotor which upon inspection looks wavy and un-even on the brake surface and you can usually see a colour variation from hot spots. This often happens from high heat build-up which could be a sign you have had the incorrect brake pads on you vehicle. The second reason for pedal vibration can be that your brake pads are worn too low. Whenever you have brake shudder you should check your brake pads and brake rotors for wear as soon as possible.

Is your brake pad wear indicator lit up on the dash?

A lot of modern cars nowadays have a brake pad wear sensor that indicates when the brake pad material is too low and is due for replacement. If your light comes on you’ll need to replace your brake wear sensor at the same time, this is a small cost but it often comes in the box of the brake pads depending on the vehicle.

Shop Brake Wear Sensors

What happens if I don’t change my brake pads at the correct service intervals?

When your brake pads are low, they become inefficient and in some cases dangerous. The brakes on your vehicle are the last chance you have of stopping your vehicle to avoid an accident or slowing down to take a corner.

With worn out brake pads, you run the risk of damaging your brake rotors to the point that you may have to replace them as well, adding to the cost of your repair bill. Other issues can arise from not replacing your brake pads which can include prematurely wearing out your ball joints, tie rod ends and other steering components from the vibration scalloped rotors or worn brake pads can cause.

Don’t run the risk and safety of our self and other occupants in the vehicle. Replace your brake pads at the correct intervals for optimal braking performance and find yourself saving money not needing the other replacement parts damaged from neglecting the service interval.

How do I choose the right type of brake pads?

To choose the correct brake pad for your vehicle, first you need to know how and where you drive.

Do you have a 4x4 or SUV? Do you tow? Is the majority of your driving done on open roads in the country, or is it spent bumper to bumper in the city streets? Is it a daily driver or a weekend classic that you like drive spiritedly through the twisty hills? Selecting the correct brake pad to match your vehicle and driving style can mean your brake pads stop your car efficiently and can last longer.


Do you have a Daily Driven car or small SUV?

If you have a daily driven car or small SUV that is used around town, the suburbs and just getting from A to B then we recommend a ceramic formulation brake pad, Repco RCT ceramic brake pads have greater cooling properties than a traditional semi-metallic brake pad making sure you can stop each and every time without incurring any brake fade. Better still they’re quiet and create lower amounts of dust meaning you’re not needing to clean your wheels every weekend. Other options we have available at Repco are the Bendix General CT Brake pads as well as TruStop and Silverline Brake Pads.

Do you have a 4x4, SUV, Ute, Van or Tow vehicle?

If you have a 4x4, SUV, Commercial Van or is it a tow vehicle where the payload is increased from the factory then we recommend a semi metallic brake pad, this is a harder working brake pad that provides greater braking performance you can rely on. Repco RCT Extreme brake pads are designed with the heavy braking you commonly find in 4WD, SUV, utes and other tow vehicles that require that extra bit of bite to pull you up in an emergency situation. Other options we have available at Repco are the Bendix 4WD/SUV Brake pads and Bendix Heavy Duty brake pads. They’re also a semi-Metallic brake pad with similar features to the Repco RCT Extreme brake pads.

How do I minimise brake squeal?

Brake squeal more often than not occurs from small vibrations that happen when there's dirt or grit present in the calliper. So when it comes to fitting brake pads or brake rotors it's important to be clean and thorough with everything you do. Use brake clean, wipe down every surface and make sure you get rid of any dirt, grit or grime. The more thorough you are the better the chance you'll have of minimising brake squeal.

For best practise, try to match your friction faces at each change, so if you're replacing your brake pads then its best to machine the rotor face of your brake rotors or purchase replacement brake rotors to give the best chance of bedding-in you brakes correctly. In some instances in older higher kilometre vehicles it can also be beneficial to clean and rebuild your brake callipers.