Keeping Your Brakes in Check: Expert Advice on When to Replace Your Brake Pads or Shoes

Dear Mike,

I recently bought a used car and I’m not sure when to replace the brakes. I’ve heard people say every 20,000-30,000 miles, but I’m not sure if that’s accurate. I don’t want to wait too long and risk damaging my car or causing an accident. Can you provide some guidance on how often I should be replacing my brakes?

Thanks in advance,

Dear Jasmina,

First of all, congratulations on your new (to you) car! Second, kudos for being a responsible owner and taking the time to ask for brake advice. Your braking system is extremely important for your safety, the safety of your passengers, and the safety of other drivers and pedestrians.

Now, to your question: how often should you replace your brakes? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer because there are many factors that can affect the lifespan of your brake pads or shoes. As you mentioned, heavy loads, trailer pulls, stop-and-go traffic, and highways can all impact brake wear.

The quality of the brake pads or shoes is also a key variable. Entry-level brake pads are budget-friendly, but they aren’t as durable as their OE (original equipment) counterparts. Premium brake pads, on the other hand, can provide superior stopping power and can last significantly longer, but they come at a higher cost.

So, what do we recommend? We suggest keeping an eye (and ear, and feel) on your brakes and getting them checked out whenever you experience any of the following symptoms:

– Your car pulls to one side while braking
– Your brake pedal pulsates or feels “mushy”
– You hear a noise (squeaking, grinding, or clicking) when you apply your brakes

Ignoring these warning signs can lead to more serious problems, such as longer stopping distances, brake failure, and costly repairs.

As for a general guideline, many experts recommend replacing your brake pads or shoes every 30,000-50,000 miles (or roughly every 3-5 years, depending on how much you drive). However, this is just an estimate and should be adjusted based on your driving habits, the quality of the brake components, and the advice of your trusted mechanic.

In conclusion, the best way to ensure your brakes are in good working order is to get regular inspections and maintenance from a reliable auto repair shop (like ours, wink wink). And remember, don’t ignore any brake issues – safety first, always.

Stay safe and happy driving,

Mike Urban