Signs of Bad Brake Pads, Repair & Replacement


Dec 16th, 2021

Signs of Bad Brake Pads, Repair & Replacement

What Are Brake Pads & What’s Their Role in a Braking System?

Brakes pads are an integral part of any car’s braking system. Their job is to provide enough friction as they rub against the brake rotor, which in turn brings the car to a stop at the required time. You will find the brake pads inside the brake callipers in a braking system.

How often do you change brake pads?

This constant friction between the two surfaces wears out the brake pads material. It’s normal to replace brake pads after every 80,000 km to ensure that they continue to be effective in stopping your car. 

Consult your manual for the brake pad servicing schedule for your car – the interval may come more often. If your car starts showing symptoms of brake pad wear, you should immediately go ahead and replace them.

So, how do you know your brake pads are worn out?

Here are some of the common signs that will tell you when it’s time for brake pads replacement.

What Are Common Signs of Worn Brake Pads?

Here are some of the common signs that will tell you when it’s time for a brake pads replacement.

#1 Screeching, grinding, squealing, rubbing, and other noises

If you start hearing these sounds, it’s a sign that you have bad brake pads, and they urgently need maintenance check. Do not ignore this because it could result in damaging other car parts, costing you even more.

#2 Metallic squeal

A high-pitched sound that usually dies down when braking, is a sure sign that the brake pads need replacing. This sound comes from the brake pad wear indicator rubbing against the rotor. 

Brake pad wear indicators are made of steel, and when they rub the rotor surface, they produce a high-pitched sound. If ignored, the damage will extend to the rotor, which becomes even more expensive to deal with.

#3 Grinding sound 

While this sound does not always indicate worn brake pads, it still should be checked. The grinding noise can mean metal-on-metal rubbing, which can result in grooves on the rotor. 

Other sources of this noise are lack of lubrication in the drum brakes and pebbles or gravel in the calliper unit.

#4 Vibration in the pedal or steering wheel

When this happens, do not wait any longer. Get a brake pads replacement immediately or risk getting your rotor warped from metal-on-metal scraping.

#5 Brake warning light

Anytime the yellow or red brake warning light turns on, you know it's an indicator that your brake system has an issue. Immediately take your car for a brake inspection. It could be a brake pad wear issue or any other brake-related issue. 

#6 Braking requires more effort and pressure 

If you notice yourself applying more pressure before the brake works, then it could be a case of worn brake pads. This stage is the first sign of bad brake pads and calls for servicing.

#7 Throbbing brakes

Brake pads take a lot of irregular friction. For this reason, they may have unequal wear. If you experience a throbbing sensation when you try to brake, it usually means your brake pads have worn out unevenly.

You should quickly replace them with high-quality rubber brake pads. Throbbing typically happens with low-quality rubber brake pads.

#8 Marks on the brake rotors

You should not take scratches or dents on the rotor surface lightly. They usually show that you have badly worn-out brake pads causing the calliper to scratch the rotor surface and leaving behind marks. You should repair or replace warped rotors before attaching the new brake pads. 

#9 Brake pads appear thinner than a ¼ inch

Brake pads thinner than 1/4 -inch confirms a suspicion of a worn-out pad. You can look at the brake pads from between the spokes. If your estimate of its thickness is less than a ¼ inch, then that’s your go-sign that you need to get it replaced.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Brake Pads?

Brake pads are readily available and cheap, but you should take note of the significant types, brake pads material, and cost depending on the car type, model, and make. While brake pads replacement cost is generally not that high, the same cannot be said of the labour cost.

As an alternative, you may DIY the replacement of the brake pads from your home with a little bit of skill. See if this is something that you’ll want to learn.

How to replace brake pads

Knowing how to replace brake pads is a handy skill, and every car owner should aim to learn it. Here’s a simple guide to help you.

Tools & materials you’ll need:

  • Car jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Clean rags
  • Gloves
  • Piece of wire 
  • C-clamp
  • new brake pads


  • Find a level surface to park your vehicle and turn the brakes on. 
  • Set chunks of wood or bricks at the front and back of each tyre to keep your car from moving while you replace the brake pads. Let the vehicle cool down before you start.
  • Jack up the car after the parts have cooled down. With the car jacked up, make sure that the wheel has zero contact with the ground.
  • Start loosening the lug nuts until they are free to come out. Now spin off the lug nuts. Remove the wheel by pulling it out. The rotor is the part close to the outer side and will be the first thing you’ll see. You can feel the calliper from the back rather than directly touching it.
  • Now remove the calliper and support it using a piece of wire to ensure that it does not weigh down the brake line. If you’re replacing the rear brake pads, make sure that the parking brake is not set.
  • What's left to do at this point is remove the worn-out pad and replace it with a new one. 
  • Using a C-clamp, compress the piston into the calliper. If you’re not familiar with how this part is mounted or removed, you can check on the internet or manual.
  • The last part is to reassemble everything back into place before fitting the lug nuts back. Make sure you tighten the calliper bolts well.

If you have other questions about brake pads that are not covered in this article, do check out for answers to FAQs about brake pads here!

In case you’ve been replacing brake pads more often than usual, then perhaps you may want to learn about driving tips to prolong the life your brake pads

If you notice something wrong or unusual with the rotor while replacing the brake pads, call a mechanic to handle the issue. It is recommended not to try and fix it by yourself. To search for replacement auto parts, waste no time and send a request to CarPart AU!

By Sam O.