How Long Do Brakes Last?

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On average, brakes  last between 25,000 and 65,000 miles. 
However, factors like  environment and driving habits may greatly  impact your brakes’ lifespan. It’s impossible to tell exactly how long your brakes will last, that’s why the car insurance super app Jerry has compiled the signs that your brakes might be worn out, along with tips for keeping them in great shape.

How long do brakes usually last? 

Brakes commonly last between 25,000 and 65,000 miles
There are a few factors that could greatly impact the lifespan of your brakes: 
  • Driving habits: Heavy use, frequent braking, and harsh braking can be detrimental to the lifespan of your brakes 
  • Brake material: Brakes made from carbon-ceramic tend to be more durable than metal brakes 

Signs that your brakes are worn out 

If you’re experiencing performance issues with your brakes or noticing other signs of wear and tear, take your car to a mechanic immediately. 
Here are a few key signs that you can see, hear, and feel. 

Signs you can see

One of the quickest ways to assess your brakes’ health is to conduct a visual check. 
To locate your brakes, look between the spokes on your wheels—you may be able to see the brake pad held against the rotor by the caliper. 
If you’re unfamiliar with what any of those things look like—the rotor is the shiny disc directly inside your wheel, the caliper looks like a clamp on the side of that rotor, and the brake pad is inside that clamp. 
Check that the brake pad is not less than a quarter-inch thick. Anything less is too worn. If this is the case, take your car to a trustworthy mechanic.  

Signs you can hear 

Screeching or grinding noises are often the first signs of worn brake pads. These noises indicate one of two things: 
  • A mechanical brake-wear sensor: Some vehicles come equipped with a metal strip at the dying edge of the pads. When your pads are worn, the metal strip screeches every time you brake—indicating that it’s time to take your car to the shop and get the brakes replaced. 
  • Or, your brakes have worn to their metal backing plates: If your vehicle does not have a brake-wear sensor, a screeching or grinding sound could indicate that the brake pads have worn to their metal backing plates. If this issue goes unchecked, it could result in brake-system failure (aka, no brakes!). Needless to say, if you think this is the case, you should have your car towed to a local mechanic.

Signs you can feel 

Signs of brake trouble can become noticeable while you’re driving. Here are a few things you might feel: 
  • A “mushy” or “spongy” feel to your brake pedal: When your pedal loses firmness, it might be an indication there is air or water in the brake fluid caused by a leak. 
  • Your car pulls to one direction while braking: This could indicate a leak in your brake lines causing uneven brake wear or possible trouble with steering and front suspension.
  • Pulsing or vibrating in the brake pedal: This can signal warping in the rotors. It’s typically caused by heat from braking heavily, or by grinding from the metal backing of worn brake pads. 
As with any notable car concern, it’s safest to see a mechanic if any of these issues present and persist. 
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How to improve the lifespan of your brakes

The best thing you can do for your brakes is to be mindful of how you use them. The following can wear your brakes down faster:
  • Aggressive driving: The constant riding and slamming on brakes puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the braking system. To preserve pads, it’s best to coast to a stop and use light pressure on the pedal.
  • Stop-and-go traffic: Using highways more often can help lengthen brake lifespan, as well as refraining from overloading your vehicle.
  • Hills: If you live in an area with a lot of hills, be sure to get your brakes checked more frequently. 

How to find affordable car insurance

Once you’ve gotten your brakes checked out (or swapped out!), take a moment to revisit your car insurance. You’re probably overpaying.
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Some newer vehicles have indicator lights that will let you know when it’s time to replace your brakes. 
For those that don’t, you can perform a visual and auditory test instead. 
First, check between the spokes of your wheel to see how your brake pad is doing. If it looks like it’s at least a quarter-inch thick, it’s in a healthy range. 
If you can’t locate your brake pads, roll down your window while braking and listen for grinding or screeching sounds. Both can be signs that your brake pads have worn significantly. This can be dangerous so they should be checked by a professional ASAP. 
Finally, know your vehicle and know the stats: 45,000-65,000 miles is the general lifespan for brakes. If your car has recently surpassed this, or if your brake pedal or brake system just feels off, it’s time to take your car in.

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