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Without a fully functioning brake system, your vehicle is not safe to drive.


Brake problems need to be addressed urgently, and if your vehicle is in need of new brakes, the first question on your mind may be, “How much does it cost to replace brake pads?” Unfortunately, variables such as your vehicle’s make and model and the extent of the brake repair can make it difficult to get a clear estimate.


That’s where we come in. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the key information you need to know when it comes time for brake repair. Read on to learn how much it costs to replace brake pads, as well as warning signs to look for in the future, so you can continue to drive safely and responsibly.


How Much Is It To Replace Brake Pads?


On average, it costs $100-$300 per axle to replace the brake pads in a vehicle.


In other words, replacing either the front or rear brake pads would be $100-$300, and replacing both the front and rear brake pads would be $200-$600. That being said, there are a number of factors that influence brake pad replacement cost, including:


Vehicle model: Different vehicle makes and models will influence the cost of brake repair. For example, a small sedan will require smaller and potentially less expensive brake pads than a large SUV. The difference in the size of the vehicle could also contribute to a difference in labor costs if the vehicle is taken to an auto repair shop.

DIY or technician: Do you know how to replace brake pads safely without taking your vehicle to a shop? If so, you could save hundreds of dollars in labor costs — just be sure you are performing the service correctly, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a technician if needed.

Just pads, or more?: Sometimes when a vehicle needs new brake pads, it needs new rotors as well. If your vehicle does indeed need both of these replacements, it will be $250-$500 per axle — or $500-$1,000 for the entire vehicle — to replace both the brake pads and rotors.

At the end of the day, the numbers above are just estimates and vary from vehicle to vehicle. If you would like to know how much brake pads are for your vehicle or how much it would be to replace the brake pads and rotors, use our car repair estimate tool.


This tool will give you an accurate look at repair costs for your vehicle, and will connect you with a AAA-certified technician or car care center to continue through the repair process.


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What Is the Difference Between Brakes and Brake Pads?


The term “brakes” refers to the entire braking system, while brake pads are a single component of that system.


A braking system is made up of a few different parts that work together to stop or slow down a vehicle. These parts include the master cylinder, brake fluid, brake line, brake pad, caliper, and rotor that all spring into action when you apply pressure to the brake pedal. That’s why it can be too vague for someone to say they need their brakes replaced, because it could refer to any part in the braking system — or the entire system itself.


Brake pads are what physically press against the rotor to slow the rotation speed of the wheels, thereby reducing the speed of a vehicle. Since there is a lot of friction and heat associated with stopping a vehicle, these pads are often the most replaced part of a braking system.


Can You Replace Just the Brake Pads?


You can replace just the brake pads in your vehicle, but it depends on the condition of the other parts of the braking system.


If your braking system is in otherwise good condition, you can replace just the brake pads without issue. However, when it comes time to replace the brake pads, more often than not, there may be issues with the other components of the braking system. In this situation, other parts will need to be replaced to continue driving safely.


For example, if the brake rotor is also worn down and in need of replacement, simply replacing the brake pads wouldn’t be the safest choice. Installing new brake pads on old rotors can cause a host of problems, such as braking vibration and decreased braking effectiveness — plus, the rotor may need to be replaced before the pad, resulting in another trip to the shop.


Adding the cost of a brake rotor replacement will increase the price of the auto parts, but it is important to repair all components of the braking system when necessary to stay safe.


How Long Do Brake Pads Last?


Brake pads can last anywhere from 30,000-80,000 miles depending on the driving conditions and the habits of the driver.


Some of the key factors determining the life span of brake pads are:


How the brakes are used: How long brake pads last primarily depends on how often they are used. Drivers that “ride the brakes” or apply pressure to the brakes more frequently will wear out brake pads faster than drivers who do not. Additionally, drivers in manual vehicles who can use the “engine braking” technique can also extend the life span of their brake pads, as they don’t use them as frequently as automatic drivers.

Driving environment: Drivers who are in a condensed, urban environment will use brakes more frequently — and therefore, wear down their brake pads faster — than drivers who live in spread-out or rural areas.

Condition of the brake system: As we mentioned above, it’s smart to replace any part of the braking system as needed instead of simply replacing the brake pads. For example, if new brake pads are put on an old rotor, that rotor can cause faster and more pronounced wear and tear on the brake pads — not to mention creating a host of safety issues — resulting in earlier replacement.

Brake pad material: Brake pads come in a variety of materials such as metallic, organic and synthetic. Selecting a higher-quality material such as semi-metallic will ensure your brakes last longer and perform better than cheaper options.

Whether you’re assessing your braking system or shopping for new tires, it’s important to be aware of the condition of your vehicle in an effort to be as safe as possible.


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How Do You Know When Your Car Needs New Brake Pads?


When the brake pads and overall braking system in your vehicle are in need of replacement, there will be five warning signs to pay attention to. These include:


Unusual noises: When brake pads wear down, you might hear a high-pitched or grinding noise when you use the brakes. If you think your brake pads are wearing down, drive without playing the radio to see if you can hear these sounds.

Vibration: Warped or otherwise worn-down brake rotors can cause a vibration when slowing down. If your car vibrates when you use the brakes, a replacement could be needed in the near future.

Pedal feels different: Another big indicator of brake system problems is if the brake pedal feels different. Problematic brake systems can cause the brake pedal to feel soft and unnatural, while also needing more pressure to brake properly. If your brakes feel different in any way, it could be time to schedule an appointment.

Parking brake issues: Similar to the brake pedal, if the parking brake feels different, that could be an indicator of problems with the braking system. Problematic parking brakes usually feel as though they aren’t giving resistance, and a replacement or repair may be needed.

Dashboard indicators: If the anti-lock braking system (ABS)indicator or other maintenance reminder systems are illuminated on the dashboard, that could be a sign that your brake pads or brake system is in need of immediate attention.

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Your vehicle’s braking system is one the most important safety features, and it’s crucial to regularly monitor your brakes and schedule prompt service when needed. If your vehicle is in need of repair, check out our auto repair shop locator to get repair estimates and find a AAA-authorized technician to get you safely back on the road.


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