How Long Should My Brakes Last?

Toyota Brake Service

Concerned About Brake Wear? Here Are 6 Tips to Help Your Brakes Last Longer


Brake pads are categorized along with other car care maintenance items as wear or consumable parts. Like tires they’re good for a certain period of use and when their useful life is over, they have to be replaced. And brake pads are much like tires in that how you drive has a great impact on how long they last, but also the quality of the tires or brakes pads that are installed have an impact on performance and length of service as well.

And much like tire wear, any attempt to predict the actual period for which brake pads will last is extremely difficult – in some cases brake pads will last for 70,000 miles while on an identical model with a different driver or driving over different conditions can result in brake pad replacement in as little as brake pads 25,000 miles.

If you’re looking for ballpark numbers, typically front brake pads should last for anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 miles. In an effort to help you extend the life of your pads as much as possible and avoid brake problems, we here at Pedersen Toyota have gathered some tips that can help in your daily driving.


1. No Two Foot Shuffle

Use only your right foot on the brake pedal. If your right foot is on the accelerator and your left is on the brake pedal you’re likely to be (unknowingly) dragging your brakes while you drive. Not only does this wear the brakes pads more quickly it also impacts your fuel economy.


2. Keep Looking Ahead

Driving experts tell us that we should be looking several cars ahead, not just at the back of the car in front of us. In this way you can anticipate braking so that you can slow steadily and progressively, rather than a hard panic stop. What if you’re behind a truck and can’t see further than its rear bumper? Then when safe and appropriate change lanes so that you have a better view of the road ahead.


3. Slow Down

Stops from highway speeds are one the fastest way to wear out your brake pads. Remember Sir Isaac Newton’s Second Law? Probably not, but let’s just say that stopping from 65 mph requires about 30 percent more braking force than stopping from 55 mph. So those high speed stops contribute greatly to brake pad wear.


4. Don't React, Respond

The driver in front of you taps their brakes and their brake lights illuminate. We’ve all tapped our own brakes in response. Sometimes it’s for a reason, like traffic slowing ahead, or simply that they need to adjust their speed just a tad. If you’re looking a couple of cars ahead you’ll be able to determine whether you need to prepare to slow down or that it’s just a tap so you can avoid unnecessary use of your brakes.


5. Good Fluid Gone Bad

It’s a good idea to flush and replace your brake fluid per the manufacturer’s schedule. Brake fluid, by design, is hydroscopic. That means it attracts water, but water in brake fluid makes the system less efficient. Then why have brake fluid that sucks up water? The reason is simple, if it’s contained in the brake fluid it’s not rusting out your brake lines. The more water held within the brake fluid the softer the pedal becomes, the harder you have to press, which will probably result in having to brake harder to avoid whatever is in front of you, which speeds brake wear.


6. There’s Ample Warning

The last thing you want to do is wear the brake pads down to the very limit, because if you miscalculate it can result in a seriously costly repair. Once the brake pad friction material has worn through the metal backing plates they are now contacting the iron rotors. From a safety perspective, the metal backing plates aren’t effective in stopping your vehicle. The brake pad backing plate also creates deep gouges in the rotor that will require that they be replaced prematurely.


Most brake pads now come with a thin steel clip that’s installed exactly so that when it contacts the rotor the pads have worn to the point that they’ve reached their safety margin. These warning strips don’t damage your brakes in any way, but they are a clear warning to set an appointment with us here at Pedersen Toyota for a complete inspection so you can avoid any brake problems.

At Pedersen Toyota we’re your partner in keeping your Toyota car, truck, or SUV in excellent condition. We also use Genuine Toyota Parts that meet factory specifications. So for all your truck, SUV, and car maintenance needs, come to the Toyota experts at Pedersen Toyota in Fort Collins.

How long should my brakes last?