Brake pads are an important aspect of vehicle maintenance, as they are responsible for a critical safety feature- stopping the car. Brakes pads create friction and transform the motion into heat, which slows- and eventually stops- the vehicle.
Since pads are a relatively simple and inexpensive fix, there’s no reason to put off changing the pads as soon as you notice the braking system is not working as effectively as it once was.
First, Drum vs. Disc Brakes
Both drum and disc braking systems primarily rely on resistance to stop a vehicle. Friction is converted into heat, which ultimately works to stop the vehicle in motion. After that point, the characteristics of each type become more marked.
Drum Brake System Facts:
- Primarily used until the early 1970s, but still used for rear brake systems on many new vehicles
- Less expensive for the manufacturer, and replacement shoes are usually very affordable
- Made from cast iron, with all of the components located within the “drum”
- Design simplifies replacement; work can be completed in less than 5 minutes
- Good performance in wet conditions (less likely to get wet in the first place)
- Shoes fade more over time than pads used on discs
Disc Brake System Facts:
- Superior heat dissipation, which means they’re more resistant to brake fade during, racing, etc.
- Greater possible clamping force, larger swept area, and better cooling ultimately makes for a better brake system
- Greater cost to manufacture, and more expensive to service/maintain
Brake Pad Price Range Info
Proper brake maintenance is vital to ensure optimal performance. Brake pads don’t last forever and should be replaced between 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Replacement parts should be of the same quality as the pads installed by the manufacturer, therefore it’s important to choose original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts when selecting replacements. These parts are inexpensive and will improve the safety of your Toyota’s ability to stop effectively.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for a set of quality brake pads (OEM is best, the premium brand is second best):
- A set of front or rear brake pads should cost $50 to $150, with most falling between $50 and $75. The higher priced pads will be found on performance vehicles for the most part
- A set of rear brake shoes (it’s rare to find shoes on the front of today’s vehicles) should cost about the same, $50-$75, which very few situations where shoes would cost more.
- Installation costs can range dramatically, from $50 to $200. It’s going to depend on the shop, the type of vehicle you drive, etc.
So, while brake pads aren’t the most expensive item on your car, they’re not exactly cheap. What can you do to save money on pads?
How To Maximize Brake Pad Life
There are several factors that contribute to the longevity (or lack thereof) of brake pads. Driving style is a prime indicator of how much life drivers can get out of their brake pads. Other factors include road conditions, terrain, and driving frequency. Practice the tips below to prolong the pads in your vehicle.
- Slow Down – Accelerated speeds do a number on brake pads.
- Use Only One Foot to Drive – Using both feet to drive is a formula for premature brake wear, as you’re more likely to rest your foot on the brake pedal than drivers who just use one foot.
- Coast Rather Than Brake (when possible) – If you can plan ahead and follow from a good distance, you’ll find yourself touching the brakes a lot less. You’ll also save money on fuel.
- Remove Extra Weight From Your Vehicle – If you need an excuse for kicking your in-laws out of the car, you’re welcome.
- Invest in Quality Pads – Cheap and/or “free lifetime replacement” brake pads are intentionally designed to wear fast. The faster they wear, the faster you’ll be back to the brake shop, and the more chances they have to sell you additional services.
Finally, maintenance is important. If you ignore or neglect symptoms of brake problems (squeaks, squeals, vibrations, etc.), you risk brake system damage and premature pad wear.