Brake Pads

7 Signs You Need New Brake Pads

Daniel McDonald
Daniel McDonald8 min read
7 Signs You Need New Brake Pads

Not many people keep car maintenance as their top priority unless there is a significant problem with their vehicle. If you are a driver that does not focus on checking or maintaining your car's critical components from time to time, you might find yourself stuck in the middle of your journey.

In a worst-case scenario, you can get involved in an accident if there is any issue with your car's brake system. Car maintenance is vital to ensure critical parts like the braking system are operating properly. Since brake pads wear away from time to time, you need to replace them.

If you keep on driving with worn brake pads, there is a chance your brakes might not work as they used to, and it can lead to an accident. So, you need to look out for some signs that indicate it's time to change your brake pads.

We will discuss the seven signs that indicate your pads are not working as they should and needs replacement. But before that, let's understand what brake pads are and how they work.

What Are Brake Pads, And How Do They Work?

Today, most vehicles have braking gear in the rear two wheels that depend on the rotors. The rotors are the metallic discs that you can find behind each wheel. The caliper is another vital part of the braking system, a clamp-like device.

When you press the brake pedal, the calipers start to move towards each other. As a result, it produces friction, causing the wheels to stop spinning until they come to a complete halt. The resulting friction might cause the brake pads to wear down.

The calipers utilize the brake pads to contact the rotors when pressing the pedals. These pads will not last forever; no vehicle part will. As mentioned above, the friction will eventually wear the brake pad down with time.

It will make the brake pads too thin, and ultimately you will notice that they won't work as they did before. Worn brake shoes process a significant threat to the safety of not just the passengers in the car but also the other vehicle owners and other people on the road.

Therefore, it is imperative to replace your car's brake pads if you feel they are not working well. These signs below indicate that the pads are wearing down and sooner or later not working as effectively as they did.

If you notice these warning signs when driving your vehicle, you should head to the nearest auto shop for replacement pads as quickly as possible.

Signs Your Vehicle's Brake Pads are Not Working Properly

Several warning signs indicate your car's brake pads are not working correctly and need a replacement. Here are seven signs that tell you that there is a problem with your pads and can impact your entire braking system:

  • Loud Grinding Noise

  • Car is Pulling to One Side When You Press the Brake

  • Temperamental Brake Pedal

  • Squeaking or Squealing Sound

  • Takes More Time to Stop

  • Brake Pad Indicator Light Keeps Coming On

  • Vibration When Pressing the Brake Pedal

Loud Grinding Noise

One of the most obvious warning signs that you will witness is that your brakes will produce a loud grinding noise when you press them. The noise will progress with time as you will start to hear a sound similar to clicking and rattling at first, and it will then progress towards a loud grinding noise.

This noise will probably feel like an animal growling. So, if you hear any grinding or growling noise after you've pressed the brake pedal, it indicates that you need to replace them as soon as possible. These pads are worn out to the extent that driving with them is dangerous, and it is best to get a replacement as soon as possible.

When the caliper and the metal disc rub each other, it will make a growling noise. This noise will only occur when your brake bad has completely worn out. If you continue to drive your brake pad which is completely worn out, it will continue to damage your entire braking system.

In case you hear a grinding sound, it implies that you not only need to replace your pads but also your rotors. Since the brake rotors get damaged when the pads start to wear down, you must get them checked by a certified technician.

Regardless of a growling or a grinding noise, it would help if you got a replacement pad to ensure your car keeps operating correctly. This way, you'll keep the entire braking system of your vehicle safe from any extensive damages that will result in costly repairs.

The Vehicle is Pulling to One Side When You Press the Brake.

Another common sign that your vehicle's brake pads are wearing out and need new pads is when the vehicle starts pulling towards one direction when you hit the brake pedal. Many drivers notice that they are the vehicle will start to steer left or right when driving.

If you want to find out if the pads are worn out, you can hit the brake pedal without moving your steering wheel. If the vehicle moves in one direction, it is best to get it checked by a professional mechanic.

Mechanics can help you determine the actual reason for the car's movement. Keep in mind that the faulty brakes are not the only reason your car would be moving in a single direction. There can be other factors that are causing the vehicle to move in a single direction.

Temperamental Brake Pedal

Brake pedals become increasingly squishy as the pads start to wear out. You can experience two things with your brake pedal if the pads start has worn out.

The first is that your pedal will feel a little soft and pulpy. You must push it to the floor for the brakes to work and slow down the car.

Another condition is the sticky pedal, where the car would stop even with the slightest push on your pedal. This condition can be dangerous if you are traveling on the freeway, and the slightest press will stop your vehicle and cause the vehicles behind you to crash into you.

Both conditions are highly hazardous since they put you and many others at risk. So, this is something that you cannot ignore and should head over to a repair shop to get your brakes checked.

Squeaking or Squealing Sound

The loud squeaking or squealing noise indicates that your pads are now completely worn out. This awful sound will draw people's attention when you stop at the intersection or in any parking lot.

Moreover, you will have to bear this terrifying sound every time you hit your brake pedal. The noise will be the same as putting your nails on the chalkboard. Since the tiny metal shims cause this sound, it is a clear indication for the motorists to replace brake pads.

Takes More Time to Stop

Most people find the car is taking too long to stop or the distance before it comes to a complete halt is increasing. This sign tells you you have to for a brake pad replacement since the old pads are not as effective as they used to be.

Most importantly, it also indicates that your brake fluid is low (probably because of a leak). If the fluid continues to bleed, it will damage the vital components of the vehicle's braking system. It is a significant problem since it will increase the stoppage time as soon as you the brake pedals. However, there is a possibility that there are some other issues with your rotor or other parts that would need to be replaced.

To understand the issue better, you should head over to an auto shop close to you. They can check the entire braking system, including the pads, rotor, brake, and other vital components, and they will visually inspect each part and suggest whether you need new brake pads.

It is not recommended that you ignore this warning sign since it can wreak havoc on your brake, rotor, and other integral parts of your braking system. You will end up with repairs that can cost you hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

Brake Pad Indicator Light Keeps Coming On

Many new vehicles now have a brake warning indicator on the dashboard to alert the driver about the possibility of a worn-out pad. You will find two lights in your dashboard that you might turn on with faulty brake pads:

  • Antilock Braking System (ABS) Light

  • Brake System Warning Light

The light doesn't need only come on when there is an issue with your braking system, and this light will come on when you engage the parking brake. So, if the light appears on your dashboard when the parking brake is engaged, there is no problem.

However, if you see that the warning light is continuously on without the parking brake being engaged, this indicates a possible problem with your pads. Upon seeing this light, you should take your vehicle to the nearest mechanic for inspection.

Vibration When Pressing the Brake Pedal

Last but not least, if you feel a slight vibration when you press the brake pedals, this is also a sign that your pads are worn out. The brake pads will cause the pedal to vibrate and shake a little when you press it.

Also, this might mean that you have a warped rotor creating this vibration. Getting a professional to look at this issue for you is a wise decision.

Why Does a Brake Pad Wear Out?

Each part of the vehicle will ultimately wear out since it has a specific life span. There is a certain limit to which the pads will work fine. After that, you will need new brake pads. Certain factors impact the life cycle of brake pads, such as driving habits, conditions, etc.

Mistakes That Wear Out Brake Pads More Than Quickly

While brake pads are bound to fail, some drivers tend to make mistakes that cause the brake pads to fail more than quickly. So, if you are making any of the following mistakes, there is a chance your brake pads will wear out more than quickly.

Sudden Braking

Some drivers keep a little distance between their vehicle and the car. So, they have to hit the brakes with more pressure, which causes the brake pads to wear down more quickly. Not only does it wear down your brake pads, but it also increases the chances of possible accidents.

Warped Rotors

If you drive around with a warped rotor, it will cause your brake pads to wear down more than quickly. The rotor will also impact the other parts of your braking system. So, it is better to get it replaced.


If you love to drive at high speed, you will likely press your hard with more pressure. Brake pads often find it difficult to stop a car at high speed. Therefore, this driving habit will also cause the pads to wear down more quickly.

Keep your Brake System in Proper Condition

The brake pads are a vital component of your braking system. If you continue driving with worn brake pads, you will risk yourself and other people on the road. So, keep a close eye on the wear indicators to know when you need to replace your brake pads.

Strange noises when you press your brakes are the most prominent wear indicators that you tell you about faulty brake pads. You can drive your car to the nearest mechanic, who can check the brake pads and other vital braking system elements for you.

Another thing you need to remember is that the brake pad has a life span of 30,000 to 40,000 miles in urban areas and 80,000 in rural areas. If you have driven your car to that limit, you need to replace brake pads for an optimal driving experience.