The lifespan of new brake pads of a convention car can range from 25,000 to 65,000 miles based on the impact placed on the brake pads.
Therefore, how do you prolong brake pad life? The only way is to prolong the brake pads is to go gentle with your brake if your car uses conventional braking. On the other hand, a hybrid or electric car using regenerative braking can at least double the life of brake pads since friction to brakes is returned to the battery instead of friction.
Many automobile repair companies claimed that a brake inspection will prolong and extends your brake pads by
- Checking how efficiently rotors cool themselves
- Checking the hardness and quality of castings
These brake inspections probably only make sense as a periodic brake inspection rather than an ad-hoc inspection.
As a driver, the ways to prolong your brake pads are:
- Observe for abnormal brake pad wearing - You will need to fix the problem if your brake pads end up abnormal, such as having cracking, glazing, or lifted pad edges or tapered, inner, or outer pad wear.
- Apply engine brake at higher speed and only foot brake at low speed - At high speed, more friction is generated wearing the brake pad faster. Less foot brake usage will prolong your brake pads
- Accelerate Only When Necessary - Keeping your distance from other vehicles allow you to use the engine brake gradually instead of foot braking. Look ahead and plan your braking if you really want to reduce wear and tear.
- Lighten your vehicle - A lighter vehicle needs less braking or friction to slow down the momentum. Towing another load or even putting a bicycle at the top of your car will add weight to the car too.
- Driving less in city routes - City driving involved more stopping than highway resulting in a faster wear/mileage due to the braking.
- Reduce exposure to a harsh environment - Moisture and minerals might contaminate your brake fluid causing you to brake harder than required
- Use cars with regenerative braking - This is the extreme method of changing to an electric vehicle. The electric vehicle takes advantage of the kinetic energy to work the generators in electric cars
Brake Pads That Last For A Long Time
The best way to prolong your brake pads is by switching to an electric car. In fact, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla said that brake pads on Tesla cars do not need to be replaced for the lifetime.
Elon Musk explained on 27 Dec 2018 that:
Vast majority of vehicle motion is returned to the battery, as the electric motors act like a generator in reverse. Brake pads on a Tesla literally never need to be replaced for lifetime of the car.
Rear or Front Brake Pads Wearing Faster
A common question is why does brake pad wear out unevenly. Even if calibrated and aligned correctly, the different in friction applied to front and rear brake pads can led to different rate of wearing out. Some other reason could be the type of wheel drive (full/all wheel drive vs front wheel drive) and even as complicated as the brake proportioning valve.
Brake pads is made of 3 layers and the most important layer is designed to slowly abrade under friction and dissipate the friction. That layer in the brake pads become worn out quicker if there is more friction they have to dissipate.
Besides brake pads itself, the brake proportioning valve can determine whether the rear brake pad or front brake pads spoil faster.
Brake proportioning valve
In older vehicles, the proportioning valve that normally reduces hydraulic pressure to the rear brakes has been eliminated so the rear brakes will handle a higher percentage of the brake load and be more aggressive.
The antilock brake system (ABS) performs the job of brake proportioning by keeping an eye on how the rear brakes are behaving. If the rear brakes start to lock up when braking hard, the ABS system kicks in and cycles pressure to the rear wheels to prevent them from skidding.
In vehicles with a conventional proportioning valve, the front brakes typically wear faster than the rear brake pads. It is typical to change the front brake pads before all four brakes need to be relined.
Do not worry when your brake pads are wearing out, it could be normal. The only methods to prolong your brake pads is to drive differently which is difficult.