Front brake pads tend to wear out faster than rear brake pads due to the fact that the weight of a vehicle shifts forward as it slows to a stop. Vehicles that have anti-lock brakes, electronic stability or traction control systems may be prone to more rear brake pad wear. Find out more about brake pad replacement, including the frequency of changing pads and brake pad and rotor replacement cost.
What Causes Brake Pad Wear
Brake pads made of ceramic, organic or semi-metallic materials wear down over time due to exposure to heat and friction. When you depress the brake pedal, pistons and calipers on each brake activate to create contact between pads and rotors. The friction and heat buildup and release that follow cause brake pads to wear down over time.
Most brake pads start out around 12 millimeters thick. Many pads have built-in burrs at the 3 mm level that make a sound when coming into contact with rotors. This brake pad design signals that wear has progressed to a point where rotors, calipers and other brake system components could sustain damage during slowing and stopping.
How To Prevent Brake Pad Wear
It is impossible to keep brake pads from wearing down, as these components are made of materials that are designed to resist wear, but inevitably succumb to the force of friction. The more frequently you brake, the faster brake pads may wear down. In general, highway driving puts less wear on brakes than urban environments with traffic.
When possible, you should try to brake at lower speeds. Stopping a vehicle that was traveling at highway speed is more damaging to brakes and may have more of an impact on front brakes as the weight of a vehicle shifts forward. Make sure that all other brake components are functioning properly to prevent uneven wear, particularly if a vehicle has automated anti-lock, stability or traction systems.
Why To Change Brake Pads In Pairs
The front and rear wheels of a vehicle with disc brakes have individual sets of brake pads along with brake system components such as rotors and calibers. Changing out the brakes on a single wheel can cause uneven braking, particularly since new pads are up to three to four times as thick as pads that have worn down to being just 4 mm or 3 mm thick.
As soon as you see pads are wearing thin, start looking for AutoZone coupons for your preferred brand and pad material. A vehicle brake system can operate as intended when brake pads of matching thickness are installed on both front wheels, both rear wheels or all four wheels. Even levels of wear can also support the function of anti-lock brakes or stability and traction systems.
It is also beneficial to keep a close eye on the level of wear on front and rear brakes. Regularly checking the condition of these parts can help to determine whether signs of uneven wear could point toward underlying problems such as blocked brake lines, malfunctioning calipers, seized guide pins or warped rotors.