Hands holding car brake pads

5 Signs Your Brake Pads Are Going Bad


Whether you’re using regular brakes or performance brakes, one thing is certain. At some point, you’re gonna need to replace your brake pads.

How to know when to replace brake pads is crucial knowledge that every driver should arm themselves with. After all, while your wheels and engine will get you to your destination, it’s your brakes that can get you there safely.

Brake pads do wear out. The material, whether it’s metallic, ceramic, etc., makes little difference. Every time you step on the brakes, it loses some bits of material to friction.

That’s just part of the brake pads’ job.

It’s your responsibility as a driver to know when this is happening. Here are five signs that you need brake pad replacement.

  1. Audible Clues

Car and parts manufacturers put a premium on safety. It’s no surprise that they put a safety feature on the brake pad itself. This comes in the form of a metallic shim embedded in the brake pad.

When the brake pads get worn out, the metal will scrape against the disc when you engage the brakes. This produces a screeching or squealing noise that serves as an early warning signal.

A more ominous sign is when you hear deep metallic grinding. When the brake pads are completely gone, the metal on metal contact generates this type of sound. If you hear this sound, you should immediately take your car to the shop for inspection.

  1. Brake Pad Indicator Light

The indicator light is another safety element installed by manufacturers on more modern vehicles. You can find this on the dashboard. It lights up to inform you when to replace brake pads.

Check your manual if your car comes with this feature. Take note that if a brake pad needs replacement, the mechanic has to replace the sensors as well.

  1. How to Know When to Replace Brake Pads Visually

As we mentioned, all brake pads wear out eventually. Some, such as ceramic or dust free brake pads, may resist this for a longer period. Even so, all brake pads will get thinner and thinner as the material gets chipped off from friction.

You can gauge the thickness of your brake pads by looking through the tire spokes. If you see that the pad is less than ¼ inch thick, you’re probably due for a new set of pads.

  1. Feeling Vibrations

Vibrations, whenever you step on the brakes, are never a good sign. This indicates that possibly brake pad and rotor replacement are in order.

The cause is uneven brake pad wear, such as in the case of warped rotors. The irregular surface creates vibrations during braking that can be felt through the pedal.

  1. Diminished Stopping Power

When you drive your car regularly, you generally know if something doesn’t feel right. That’s because you know how it performs and handles and you’re also familiar with its quirks.

You’re usually the first to notice that the force of the brake is a little off. If you see that you’re taking longer to stop than normal, it’s probably time to get your car serviced.

Look, Listen, and Feel

How to know when to replace brake pads? Use your eyes, listen to the warning sounds, and feel the brakes while driving. You’ll know when to replace brake pads if you pay attention to the signs.

Check out our site for other articles about car-related concerns and questions.