How Often Should You Change Rear Brakes?

by Josh BoydUpdated September 09, 2022
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There are few automotive components more critical to driver safety than a vehicle's brakes. While most modern brake systems operate in relative absence of significant mechanical hardship, they do require a certain degree of periodic maintenance.

The bulk of this maintenance involves replacing a vehicle´s brake pads as needed. However, many motorists are left questioning how often to change brakes. Even more specifically, many find themselves questioning the longevity of their vehicle´s rear brake pads.

How Often To Change Brake Pads

As a general rule, ​brake pads are replaced on an ¨as needed¨ basis, whenever wear has exceeded its practical limits​. Simply put, brake pads wear with time, due to constant friction created as they come into contact with their corresponding brake rotors.

The rate at which this wear takes place is largely dependent upon a motorist´s driving habits, as well as the type of traffic that is frequently encountered. A vehicle's brakes will naturally wear at a much quicker rate when consistently driving in stop-and-go traffic, or when braking aggressively on an ongoing basis.

Nonetheless, the average set of brake shoes tends to last approximately 30,000-70,000 miles, though it is not unheard of for some pads to last beyond the point. This is especially true of pads used on vehicles that log a high percentage of highway miles.

Do Rear Brakes Wear Out Faster?

Rear brake pads do not wear out any faster than a vehicle´s front brake pads. In reality, quite the opposite is true. Excluding any abnormal mechanical condition, a vehicle´s front brake pads will almost always wear to the point of requiring replacement, at a noticeably quicker rate than its rear brake pads.

This discrepancy in wear comes as the result of several different factors. For one, most vehicles are significantly heavier in their front ends, thereby placing increased demand upon a car, truck, or SUV´s front brakes. Additionally, a substantial amount of force is transferred toward the leading end of a vehicle during spirited braking or cornering.

However, it is worth mentioning that this uneven front-to-rear brake wear is starting to become less prominent with each passing year. Manufacturers have begun engineering their vehicles to distribute braking force at a more even rate, through the use of updated stability control functions.

How Long Should Rear Brakes Last?

Under normal circumstances, ​rear brake pads should last for approximately 45,000-70,000 miles​. As previously stated, there are a number of variables that factor into the longevity of a particular set of brake pads. For this reason, you might find that your vehicle's brake pads last wear slightly faster or slower than this mark.

The true answer to the question of how often should brakes be replaced is more situational than anything. The best practice is to periodically inspect your brakes for wear, or have your brakes inspected by a qualified individual, if you are uncomfortable doing so yourself.

What are sounds from bad brakes?

Aside from regular inspection, you should also listen for any odd sounds coming from your vehicle's brakes:

  • Chirping, squealing, and clunking.​ These all potential signs of accelerated brake wear and warrant further inspection.
  • Grinding or growling.​ If you ever hear this noise and suspected it is brake-related, you should immediately have your brakes inspected.

The timely replacement of worn brake pads is not only important to preserve a vehicle´s overall braking capabilities, but also prevents unnecessary expenditure on additional parts. If a vehicle´s brake pads are worn beyond reason, rotor and caliper damage often results, thereby significantly increasing the cost of service as a whole.

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