Brake Pads 101: What, Why, and When?

Brakes often get very little thought unless they stop working. You press the brake pedal without thinking and you need to know your brakes won’t fail you. Few drivers know the process by which the wheels are stopped and the various parts that are required to accomplish that. At Big Apple Automotive in Apple Valley, California, we believe informed owners are the best vehicle owners. Our ASE certified technicians have put together a list of the top 3 questions in brake repair:

What are brake pads?

They are part of the braking system that creates friction. Your wheels are spinning while you drive down the road, then as you apply the brake pedal, the brake pads move to make contact with the brake rotor. When these two meet, it causes friction which makes it more difficult for the wheel to spin until it comes to a complete stop.

Why do brakes wear down?

When the brake pad meets the brake rotor and they create friction to slow the wheel, that friction also creates a lot of heat. Day after day, the more you use your brakes, they create friction and heat over and over again. Each instance has the effect of wearing the rough surface of the brake pads. Smoother brake pads can’t create enough friction, which means it takes longer for your wheels to slow down.

When do I need to replace my brake pads?

The general rule of thumb is that brake pads require replacement around 40,000 miles. Some brands last longer, some drivers go through brakes more frequently, but it’s different for every vehicle since there are so many factors that come into play. However, you will be able to tell if your brakes are declining in performance. If you find it is taking longer to come to a complete stop, if you hear any unusual sounds while depressing the brake pedal, or if you smell any burning, these are common signs of failing brake health.

If you’re unsure about the condition of your brakes, come by Big Apple Automotive in Apple Valley, California, and our experienced technicians can answer your questions and recommend a replacement schedule: 760-247-7255.


The most common bad driving habit that causes damage to brakes is riding your brake pedal! Break yourself of the habit of hovering your foot over the brake pedal while you are coasting, even depressing the pedal slightly will engage the brakes and cause them to make contact without actually slowing the vehicle.

To get started, Contact Us today at any of our 3 convenient Victor Valley locations!

Written by Big Apple Automotive