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Without brake pads, we would notice a reduced feeling of comfort while driving. However, they wear quickly, so it is best to know when to replace them.

The thickness of a brake pad is measured to determine how much use the material can still provide. This is necessary for braking requirements, so a simple measurement is the easiest way to determine how well your brake pads should work.

You should replace your brake pads when they reach 3 mm in thickness. However, a brake pad's absolute minimum thickness before failing is 2mm. Brake pads will last for at least 30,000 to 40,000 miles depending on their use, vehicle type, and the brake pad material.

Brake pads are an essential part of any car and absorb the vehicle's impact when you brake. However, brake pads wear out over time and need to be replaced after a certain amount of wear occurs to the material. This guide explains what to look for, how to measure brake pad thickness, and when exactly you should replace the brake pads.

We have spent years working on cars, including brakes and brake pads. If you have never replaced brakes before and would like some help understanding how this process works, this guide will provide you with helpful information on everything.

Table of Contents

When To Replace Brake Pads (Minimum Thickness)

When the brake pads are worn down, the braking power is reduced, and the driver may not be able to stop the vehicle in time when needed. Brake pad replacement is one of the most common car maintenance tasks.

A brand new brake pad should have a thickness of around 12mm. The thicker your brake pads, the better they can withstand high temperatures and friction.

As the brake pad wears, it becomes less effective. Once you see thickness drop to 6mm, this indicates moderate wear, and once the brake pad thickness reaches 3mm, it should be replaced.

2mm is the bare minimum thickness required for a brake pad to work still, but this is pushing it to the limit. We recommend replacing your brake pads before or at 3mm of thickness.

What Is The Recommended Brake Pad Thickness?

When you get brand-new brake pads, the maximum thickness is around 12mm or half an inch. But as you use these pads, the thickness wears away.

The recommended thickness is about 6mm or more for all driving needs. As you dip below this range and use your brakes, a performance decline starts.

When you reach 6mm, you aren't required to replace them immediately, but allowing your brake pads to reach the minimum thickness of 3mm is not recommended.

How to Measure Brake Pad Thickness

Brake pad thickness is an important metric for car owners because it affects how much braking force they can generate.

If the brake pads wear out too quickly, it could mean that the brakes aren't working correctly and will need to be replaced soon.

This is why you should know the best method for measuring the thickness to stay on top of it. Follow these steps below.

Put Your Car In Park

Before starting, make sure your car is in the park on a flat surface. This is the safest way to check the brake pad thickness.

Loosen The Front Lug Nuts

Next, you can use a wrench to loosen the front lug nuts. Save these later because you need them again when putting the tires back in place.

Put The Front Of The Car On A Jack

Now, you can use your car jack to lift the vehicle's front off the ground. You can try this on only one tire if you prefer to make this a bit faster.

Remove Front Tires

Once the car is on the jack securely, remove a front tire. You can remove both if you want to get a measurement on both brake pads, but it is not required.

It is also possible to get a measurement without removing the wheels, but it tends to be inaccurate. A little extra work for an accurate thickness measurement is preferred.

Check Pad Thickness

You will need a measuring gauge tool to check the brake pad thickness. This is used by tightly placing it between the backing plate and the rotor face.

When this is done, the gauge will give you an accurate and exact thickness reading on that pad. You can opt to use this on both pads or assume the measurement is about the same for each brake pad.

Reinstall Wheels

Lastly, you can reinstall the wheels back into place. Be sure to put the lug nuts back into place tightly.

How To Replace Brake Pads

Braking is one of the most crucial safety measures for a car. It is also one of the most common causes of car accidents and fatalities.

Brake pads need to be replaced because they wear out and cause the brakes to lose their efficiency when braking.

The process of replacing brake pads can be tricky, so if you have no experience working on cars, it is best to visit your local repair shop. If you would like to do it manually, follow these steps.

Remove The Wheels

First, you need to loosen the lug nuts on the wheels. Don’t remove them immediately but loosen these bolts for the next step.

Use A Car Jack

After the lugs are loosened, use the car jack to lift the front tires. You can remove the wheels from the vehicle after this is done.

Remove The Slider Bolt

The slider bolt is responsible for holding the brake caliper in place. There are two bolts; to adjust the caliper, you must remove them first.

After doing so, pivot the brake caliper upwards and out of the way. This gives you access to the brake pad.

Remove Old Brake Pad

Now you can remove the old brake pads. Two retaining clips hold them in place and can be removed as well.

Insert New Clips

Your new brake pads will also have new retaining clips included. These are easy to install and snap right into the place where the old ones were.

Install New Brake Pad

Once the clips are in place, the brake pad will smoothly slide into place as well. You may need to apply some brake grease before putting the new pads in.

Position The Brake Caliper

After the pads are installed, you can reposition the brake caliper. It should slide back into place right over your pads with ease.

Reinstall Tire

Lastly, you can install your tires again and tighten the lug nuts to get back on the road.

How Long Do Brake Pads Last?

Brake pads typically last for about 30,000 miles. However, this can vary depending on how well you maintain your brakes and how many miles you drive each year.

It is estimated that the miles can range by a wide margin and a standard set of brake pads lasts between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. This can provide three to seven miles of total durability.

The longevity of your brake pads is significantly impacted by how you drive your vehicle. If you hit the brakes violently, it will shorten how long they last.

Other factors like heavy acceleration and overloading the weight capacity in your vehicle impact your brake pads too.

When To Replace Brake Pads (Minimum Thickness)

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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