The complete guide on When to change brake pads , How to check brake pads & How to change brake pads

Last updated on August 7th, 2023 at 12:29 pm

From this article, we are going to easily guide you on when to change brake pads, how to check brake pads and how to change brake pads. If you can learn basic stuff like how often should you replace brake pads or how to change brake pads, you don’t need to run after a mechanic all the time.

So, let’s begin.

It’s everyone’s dream to buy a car, and most of us are lucky enough to have that wish granted. But, if you neglect the health of your vehicle, then, I’m afraid to say, you are not a real vehicle lover. As you fought hard to buy a car, it’s your responsibility to maintain the health and the condition of your vehicle.

Have you ever noticed how much you hit the brake pedal per day? I guess not. So, eventually, the brake pads start to wear down. The reason is, every time you hit the brake pedal, the brake pads stop the vehicle where we want to. Eventually, the brake pads start to thin down, and in the long run, they won’t work like they used to.

This is why we need to know when to replace brake pads. So, having brake pads which are nicely functioning is more like a win-win situation. For this, you need to have a clear idea about when to change brake pads and how often should you change your brakes. No matter how shiny your vehicle is, you need to have a flawless engine and braking pads to use your vehicle.

What is a brake pad & when to change it

As I mentioned, brake pads are one of the most important components in your vehicle. This is the central part of the braking system which is situated between the brake shoe and the brake drum. The brake pads are connected with the vehicle’s rotors, discs, and calipers. If the brake pads start to wear down, the function of the discs, rotors and calipers will be weakened too.

It says that you need to replace brake pads if you have driven 30,000-35,000 miles. But, in reality, when to change brake pads varies from driver to driver. Let’s say that you always use the highway or a low traffic area to travel. Then the chances of hitting brake are small so that you can keep the braking pads for a while.

But, if you live in a high traffic area, you might hit brake quite often. So the chances of having worn-down brake pads are high. So, knowing when to replace brake pads and how to change brake pads will cost you a small fortune.

You need to be aware of the question, how often should you change your brakes. Learning when to change brake pads will save your money and your time. And it will protect your loved ones too. You don’t need your mechanic to learn when to replace the brake pads or to how to check brake pads or how to change brake pads. You can learn all this stuff at home without much effort.

We are living in an era where we can manage things on our own. As a car owner, you must know how often should you replace brake pads. As you are an expert in driving, you need to possess basic knowledge like how to check brake pads, how often should you change your brakes and how to change brake fluids and so on.

How to check brake pads

First, gather the tools you need before learning how to check brake pads.

You are going to need:

  • Owners’ manual – This will make your task easier. You don’t have to waste time finding minimum rotor, or the weight of the car or jack points. The manual will give the information you need.
  • Brake tool
  • Jack stands
  • Floor jack – This is very important, make sure to use a  floor jack with a proper weight rating.
  • Replacement brake pads – Make sure you buy quality replacement pads
  • Brake grease
  • Tire iron
  • Socket wrench

As there are various methods to know when to replace brake pads, we will take one approach at a time.

How to check brake pads without removing the tire

If your brake pads are covered with dust, it’s normal. But, if there is no dust, that’s when you should be concerned. When the brake pads wear, the amount of brake dust also diminishes. So, if you notice cleaner wheels, it’s time for your vehicle to face a diagnosis.

When you see through the tire spokes, you will see the brake pad is compressed against the brake rotor. If your brake pads are about 3 millimeters (less than 1/4 inches) in thickness, you need to change the brake pads immediately. And keep on checking the condition of the brake pads. Eventually, you will learn when to change brake pads of your vehicle.

Some brake pads have a wear indicator slot down in the middle of the pad. The thinness of the pad means the brake pads are needed to be changed.

Removing wheels to examine the brake pad

You might wonder how on earth I am going to remove a wheel. Trust me, it’s not difficult as it sounds. You can use this process to check the brake pads and also to replace or change the brake pads. From having a clear idea about the condition of your brake pads, you can guess how often should you replace brake pads.

You need to loosen the lug nuts before lifting your vehicle. If you ever have changed a flat tire, this procedure should be familiar. Use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts on the wheels you where you need check the brake pads.

Now, use the jack to lift your car. Before following this step, read the manual guide carefully. You need to confirm where the safest to place the jack underneath your vehicle. For example, some cars have jack points made specifically for floor jacks. And for some vehicles, you need to use the jack points on the side of the vehicle like you do when you change a flat tire.

Then, you have to find a solid, fitting piece of the vehicle to place the jack. For this also, refer to the manual. Once you are confirmed with the stand, slowly lower your vehicle until it firmly rests on the jack stands. After that, remove the floor jack. Then continue removing the lug nuts and take the tire away from the vehicle.

How to remove the caliper assembly and the old brake pads

  • After removing the wheel, now you will notice the caliper assembly and the rotor. The brake caliper assembly works as squeezing the brake pads against the rotor. Simply, this is the process which makes your vehicle stop when you hit the brake.
  • You need to remove the bolts on the back of the caliper assembly. For this, use the socket wrench.
  • Now, side the caliper assembly carefully from the rotor. Keep in your mind the caliper assembly is attached with the brake line. So if you act recklessly, you might damage the brake line, and it will cost you an arm and a leg to fix it. Use anything to support the caliper assembly not to snap the connection with the brake line.
  • Here, you can remove your old brake pads also. Be careful not to damage any clip or the rotor. Removing brake pads varies from vehicle to vehicle. Some brake pads can be slide while others can be popped out.
  • If your brake pads come with extra clips, you need to remove the old ones and replace them with new ones. It would be easier if you memorize how the clips are oriented. It will help you to insert them easily.

How to change brake pads

  • Now, it’s time to explain the moment you have been waiting for. Take the new brake pads. You have to apply grease on the back of the pads to stop them from making squeaking sounds. Remember, do not use grease on the front of the brake pads. It can weaken the braking system and also harm your vehicle.
  • After applying grease, place the new brake pads into the same spot.  If you are new to this process, take your time. place one brake pad at a time.
  • When you try to place the brake caliper assembly, you will notice that it is no longer supporting the brake pads. This happens because the new pads are thicker than the old, worn brake pads. So, to fix this, you need to use the brake tool.
  • First, place a brake pad inside of the caliper assembly against the large, round-shaped piston. Next, you have to set the piece of the wide plastic brake tool opposing the caliper. Then rotate the brake tool handle. So you can compress the piston back to the caliper assembly. Do this process until caliper assembly is fully retracted.
  • You need to compress the pins where the caliper assembly bolts were inserted.
  • After this, you can place the caliper assembly to your brake pads. Insert the caliper assembly bolts and tighten them with using the socket wrench.


  • Check at least thrice to make sure whether nuts and bolts are fully tightened. Only after then, replace the tire on the rotor and tighten the lug nuts.
  • Place the jack underneath your vehicle as you did before, on the jack points. Then slowly lift the vehicle. After removing the jack stand, slowly lower your vehicle to the ground.
  • Use the tire iron to fasten the lug nuts again. As you are the one who is fixing your vehicle, you need to make sure that the vehicle is safe to use again.
  • And that’s it. Take a less busy road to do the test drive. While driving, test the function of brake pads at low speed. If you start hearing a squeaking sound again, lift the vehicle again and check whether everything is in position according to the mentioned steps.

The warnings you should pay attention to

When your brake pads are thinned down, you will know. But how? As you care about a child or a pet, you need to pay close attention to your vehicle too.

Generally, you feel alert when your vehicle omits an odd sound which you haven’t heard before. The same thing happens when the brake pads don’t function properly anymore.

  • You start to hear screeching and squealing sounds when you brake. A metallic indicator makes this noise to tell that the brake pads are no longer working.

But, if you drive in the rain, the brake pads can get covered with mud. And this causes screeching noise also. But a few times after using the brake, the sound will be disappeared. If not, that’s when you need to pay close attention to your brake pads.

  •  By any chance, if you hear a low rumbling growl, or more like a metal grinding, you need to act straight away.  These sounds mean that your brake pads are worn down, and also the calipers and brake discs are making contact. The omission of these sounds means the braking system of your vehicle is in a critical condition.
  • Some vehicles have indicator light in the dashboard to alert when to change brake pads. If the indicator light in on, you need to take your vehicle to the mechanic immediately.
  • If you feel a vibration in your steering wheel or the brake pedal, you need to change the brake pads.

How to make the brake pads last longer

It might feel like too much for someone who is having a first-hand experience of changing the brake pads. But, once you are familiar with the process, it’s not a big deal. But, if we can protect the brake pads longer, it will save time too. 

You can use galvanized brake pads to keep your brake pads longer and healthy. The galvanized brake pads are resistant to rust, and it expands the brake pads’ functioning duration. Also, these galvanized brake pads are quieter-operating. So, having this type as your brake pads could save your money and energy.

No matter what type of brake pads you use, you need to focus on when to change brake pads. It’s not wise to stay for a week or two after receiving the warning signals. You might think your brake pads still usable, but once the damage is done, you cannot reverse it. In a way, it’s okay to have a poorly functioning engine than having poorly performing brake pads.

When the engine stops working, the worst could happen, your car stops. But if the brake pads fail to function, it could be life-threatening. So, you need to keep in touch with the condition of the brake pads. This will save your repair bill. And, having perfectly working brake pads can save the lives of many people.

As we are living in a hectic and fast-moving world, we can’t spend a day without a vehicle. Sometimes, your whole business runs thanks to the vehicle you own. So, as a payback, you need to take care of your vehicle. If you wish to keep your car longer, you need to do regular checkups on it. And you can do most of them just staying at home.