Brake Pads – Faults & Warning Signs Guide

Brake Pads – Faults & Warning Signs Guide

You use them everyday when driving and probably don’t give too much thought to them, but brake pads are the unsung hero of car safety! A vital component of your vehicle’s braking system, we think it’s important for drivers to understand a little about them, so here’s our guide to all things brake pads.

Understanding their cost, lifespan, replacement process, and maintenance can help you ensure optimal braking performance, certainly when you need it most! In this blog post, we’ll address the most common questions we’re asked about brake pads by vehicle owners contacting our Chepstow garage.

How much should brake pads typically cost?

Brake pad prices can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. On average, a set of brake pads (they come in pairs) can cost anywhere from £50 to £150 or more, but this is highly dependent on the type of car you own. It’s also essential to consider the quality and performance of the brake pads when making a purchase. Paying for cheap brake pads is usually a false economy at best, at worst it can be downright dangerous! 

When should I get my brakes and pads looked at?

There are several signs to watch out for regarding your car’s brakes, certainly if you experience any of the below then it’s time to get your brakes inspected by a certified garage mechanic:


Squealing brakes really are an annoying noise! It typically indicates a stuck brake caliper, with the brake pad partially touching the disc. Alternatively, some brake pads have wear indicators that start to squeal when they need to be replaced. If your brakes are squeaking it really is something you want checked out by someone competent.


If you hear a grinding noise when applying your car’s brakes, it could mean that the brake pads have worn down to the metal caliper, leaving this could end up further damaging your brake discs.


If you feel a continuous pulsating sensation in the brake pedal when applying the brakes, it’s possible that excessive heat has warped one or more of your brake discs. This distortion then prevents the brake pad from making even contact. While emergency braking might trigger ABS but the brakes will feel more they are “chattering”, a regular pulsation should be looked into.

Dashboard Light

If the brake warning light illuminates continuously or when you brake, it usually means the brake fluid level is critically low or there is a brake hose leak and you’re losing brake fluid..

Pulling to either side

If your car veers to one side when braking, a sticking hydraulic or mechanical brake component, such as a seized caliper, could be to blame. An inspection can identify the exact cause but get it looked at sooner or later as if you need to brake in an emergency the sudden veering could cause you to come off the road!


Does your brake pedal feel spongy and unresponsive? This suggests that air has entered the brake lines, hindering the flow of brake fluid in the braking system. Bleeding the air out of the brake lines usually corrects this for the car owner.

Soft Brake Pedal

A limp brake pedal that easily reaches the floor when you apply pressure with your foot, indicates a serious braking system issue. It’s strongly recommended you get an issue like this inspected immediately, as it typically signifies ineffective brake fluid or a potential master cylinder problem.

High Handbrake

If your car’s handbrake pulls up far higher than usual, it may require adjustment. In modern cars, anything beyond 7 to 8 clicks is considered excessive. If the handbrake lever reaches the end of its travel, it will fail the MOT, so it’s advisable to have it checked. It’s usually the case that your handbrake cable has overstretched so it will need replacing. Some cars have an electronic hand brake switch so it’s less of an apparent problem. Autocare, during any service, would still inspect an electronic handbrake for wear and tear.

Old Brake Fluid

Brake fluid loses its effectiveness over time, particularly if it’s been in use for more than 2 years and it plays a hugely important part in your braking system. If fluid is allowed to degrade over time it’s more likely to result in a serious brake failure (and right when you might need it most!)  Moisture absorption affects its properties which then compromises your car’s braking ability. It’s generally recommended to have your brake fluid changed every two years. We recommend you consult your manufacturer’s handbook for any specific guidelines as some cars requirements may differ.

How long should brake pads last?

The lifespan of brake pads does really vary depending on your driving habits, road conditions, and the quality of the brake pads that were fitted. If you drive quickly and need to use the brakes more often and more heavily then your pads will wear out that much faster! Generally, brake pads last anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Regular inspections and maintenance can help determine when it’s time for to replace them.

How thick are brake pads?

Brake pad thickness can vary, but most new brake pads have a thickness ranging from 10mm to 12mm. It’s crucial to monitor the thickness as often as you can and replace them when they reach the minimum recommended thickness, usually around 3mm.

How long does it take to change brake pads?

The time required to change brake pads can vary depending on the vehicle and the experience of the mechanic. On average, a professional brake pad replacement should take around 1 to 2 hours.

How often do brake pads need to be inspected?

The frequency of brake pad replacement depends on driving habits and conditions. As a general guideline, it’s recommended to get your car’s brake pads inspected every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Your mechanic should then be able to advise you if they need replacing.

How can I tell if my brake pads are worn?

You can visually inspect brake pads to check for signs of wear. You’ll need to crouch down and look behind the wheel at the brake components and you’ll see the side of the pad.  If the pad material looks thin, usually less than 3mm, it’s an indication that the brake pads are worn and need replacement.

Do brake pads come in pairs?

Yes, brake pads are typically replaced in pairs, ensuring balanced braking performance on both sides of the vehicle.

How to bed in new brake pads?

To bed in new brake pads, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, it involves a process of gradually increasing brake usage to allow the pads to settle and provide optimal braking performance.

Does an MOT inspector check brake pads?

During an MOT, the inspector will assess the overall condition and performance of the braking system, including your brake pads. They will ensure the brake pads are within the acceptable limits and functioning correctly. If brake pads are dangerously worn or your car is displaying a warning light indicating brake issues then your car will fail the MOT.


In summary, it’s important to be aware of any signs of potential brake issues your car could face and experience. Promptly addressing any of the symptoms above will ensure optimal brake performance and enhances road safety for you and others.

If you have any questions or would like to book in with us to get your brake pads changed in Chepstow please do contact us on 01291 627137 ( you can also book your car in for a FREE brake pads and discs check too).


Stay safe on the road! 😊


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