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Checking Vehicle Brake Pads – When Do They Need to Be Replaced

Effective brake pads are essential components of your vehicle’s braking system, your personal safety and of course the safety of other road users.

M.O.T TestNew MOT rules introduced earlier this year state that your brake pads must be in good condition for your vehicle to pass its MOT test. These regulations also state brake pads must be present, correctly mounted and shouldn’t be worn below 1.5 millimetres. They must also be free from the contamination of substances like oil and grease. If they don’t meet these requirements it can result in an automatic fail.

So, how long do brake pads last, how can you tell when they’ve worn out and when do they need to be replaced?

If you’ve just bought a new and used car and it recently passed its MOT you may not need to replace your brake pads for a while, but it’s still vital to keep them in good working order. It’s hard to predict how long your brake pads will last as it depends on several things.

There are many different types of pads on the market. Pads made from ceramic tend to be more durable than those made from other materials, but semi-metallic pads are also robust. Low metallic pads tend to need replacing more regularly, while organic brake pads are the least durable option available.

The more frequently you drive your vehicle, the more likely you’ll need to change your brake pads. For example, driving in built-up areas where you need to slow down and stop frequently, will take more of a toll on them than driving on motorways. Similarly, regularly transporting lots of passengers or heavy items, like towing a caravan or a trailer will also cause brake pads to suffer from more wear and tear.

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Front brake pads tend to deteriorate more rapidly than rear brake pads which is due to how the vehicle braking systems work. Your car’s brake pads could work well for just 25,000 miles or as many as 70,000 miles, it’s so important to check them regularly and look out for any warning signs.

Checking and Replacing Your Brake Pads

Today, many new cars have sensors which will alert you when brake pads need to be replaced. It’s worth noting that if this warning light is illuminated when you take your car in for its MOT, your vehicle will immediately fail its test.
However, if you don’t have a brake pad indicator and you’re confident enough, you can examine the brake pads condition yourself to see if there is any risk. You should be able to see at least three millimetres of each brake pad when you look at them on each wheel. If that’s not the case, you should take your car to the nearest garage as soon as possible for a professional opinion.

Your brake pads may need changing it feels spongy or vibrates when you press your brake pedal whilst driving, or you may hear a grating or squealing sound. Sometimes, your vehicle may feel like it is veering over to one side of the road, this can also signify your pads are wearing out. If any of these issues occur check all your pads or take your vehicle to a qualified member of the motor trade for assistance, like a mechanic. Attempting to change the pads yourself may breach the terms of your car insurance policy, fitting them incorrectly could mean the vehicle isn’t safe to drive.


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