How much does it cost to replace brake pads?

    Working brake pads ensure smooth stops and keep you safe on the road. 

    When your brake pads are worn out, however, they compromise your ability to stop quickly and efficiently, making driving your vehicle risky for you, your passengers, and others on the road. Damaged brake pads can also put the brake on passing your MOT, if they’re worn beyond the UK’s safety limits. 

    Generally, brake pad replacement costs between £100 and £300 in the UK, making them one of the more reasonable part repairs you could face. However, your car model and service fees may impact pricing. 

    Whether you’re handling routine car maintenance or preparing to sell your car, understanding the ins and outs of brake pads – and knowing when it’s time to change them – is key to your safety behind the wheel. 

    What are brake pads?

    an infographic of a cars braking system

    You may not realise how sophisticated your car’s braking system is, and how important it is to keep it in top condition.

    It’s all in the name. Part of your car’s braking system, brake pads slow and stop your vehicle when you hit the brakes. 

    Let’s talk mechanics: when the driver puts their foot on the brake, the brake pads press against your car’s brake discs, converting kinetic energy into heat and bringing your car to a halt.

    Importance of proper brake pad function

    The health of your vehicle is directly tied to your brake pads. Well-maintained brake pads comply with vehicle safety regulations and contribute to effective speed reduction and stopping, preventing accidents and injury. 

    Optimal brake pad performance translates to a smoother driving experience, aligning with legal standards and guaranteeing a reliable and secure journey on the road.

    Ensuring that brake pads are working properly is paramount for overall driving safety and vehicle longevity. Regular checks on the brake pads help you avoid unnecessary wear on your braking system and help extend the lifespan of your vehicle. They’re also cost-efficient, helping stave off extensive and expensive repairs for brake pads. 

    Signs it’s time for a brake pad replacement

    a brake disc
    Learn how to tell whether your brake pads need replacing, to keep you safe on the road in all weathers and conditions.

    Braking issues

    As brake pads and discs degrade, your car’s braking abilities diminish. If you notice that you need to increase your stopping distances, have a spongy brake pedal, or experience a noticeable decline in responsiveness when hitting the brakes, it may be time to replace your brake pads.

    Noises when engaging the brakes

    Unusual sounds, like squeaking, grinding, or squealing during braking indicate potential brake pad wear. These noise signals from the brake pads serve as early warning signs of brake system issues – schedule an inspection as soon as they begin.

    Visibly worn or damaged brake pads

    Have you checked your brake pads lately? Regular inspections are key to identifying worn or damaged brake pads. Visible signs include thinning brake pads, uneven wear, or noticeable damage. DIY checks or professional inspections during routine maintenance help catch issues early.

    Replacement costs

    Which brake pads need replacing?

    Replacing front brake pads is generally slightly more expensive than replacing rear pads. This is due to the size and material composition of the brake pads, your car’s weight distribution, and the complexity of its brake system. Vehicles with front-heavy weight distribution may experience increased wear on front brake pads, which also drives up replacement costs. 

    Manufacturer specifications and the intricacies of your car’s braking system also contribute to this pricing disparity for brake pads.

    What do you drive?

    Car models all have specific brake pad requirements. Luxury or high-performance cars may incur higher costs to replace parts in general, including brake pads and discs.

    See more below on costs you can expect when replacing different brake pads:

    Vehicle typeBrake pad replacement price range
    Standard sedans£100 to £200
    SUVs and crossovers£150 to £250
    Electric vehicles (EVs)£150 to £250
    Luxury cars£200 to £300+
    High-performance cars£250 to £350+

    What will you replace your brake pads with?

    The cost of brake pad replacement hinges on quality and type. Premium or ceramic brake pads often incur higher expenses but offer superior durability and performance, while standard brake pads provide a more budget-friendly alternative without compromising safety. Consult your mechanic or car brand on what works best for your vehicle.

    Are your new brake pad parts aftermarket or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)? While OEM parts may be pricier, they ensure compatibility with your vehicle, as well as adherence to manufacturer standards.

    Who’s installing your brake pads? 

    Opting for professional brake pad installation will incur labour charges, while DIY replacements for brake pads are easier on your wallet. However, replacing brake pads yourself can be tricky and requires appropriate tools and mechanical expertise.

    If you’re using a mechanic or garage, remember that labour charges for brake pad replacement vary but typically sit between £50 and £120 per hour. Mechanic expertise and location influence these rates. Always be sure to review quotes before proceeding with a replacement for your brake pads.

    Where are you?

    Geography significantly impacts brake pad replacement cost as labour and service rates vary from region to region. 

    Local market conditions also impact what brake pad options are available and at what price. Be sure to consider location-specific factors when budgeting for this essential maintenance.

    Additional services

    Inspection of the brake pads may reveal the need for additional repairs. Replacing other brake system components, like rotors or brake callipers, alongside brake pads can add to your overall cost. 

    Always ask for a comprehensive vehicle assessment to make sure that your entire brake system including your brake pads are working properly.

    Saving money on brake pad replacement

    a brake disc in a vehicle
    Replacing your brake pads is a tricky job, and not something you should handle solo unless you’re very confident with your mechanical skills.

    Do-it-yourself repairs

    Car owners with mechanical expertise can save money by opting to DIY their brake pad replacement. This involves purchasing quality brake pads and setting aside time to perform the repairs, and eliminates additional labour costs. 

    Before you embark on your DIY project, consult your car’s manual for specific instructions and safety precautions. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable replacing your brake pads yourself, it’s always best to seek professional assistance. 

    Tools Needed:

    • New brake pads
    • Jack and jack stands
    • Lug wrench
    • C-clamp or brake calliper tool
    • Brake cleaner
    • Wrench set
    • Gloves and eye protection

    Step-by-step brake pad replacement: 

    1. Safety first – park your car on a level surface. Engage the parking brake and chock the wheels for extra safety.

    2. Wheel removal – use a jack to lift the car and secure it on jack stands. Then, use the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts on the wheel. Remove the wheel completely.

    3. Accessing the brake assembly – locate the brake calliper assembly behind the rotor. It looks like a clamp holding the brake pads.

    4. Remove the calliper – use your wrench to loosen and remove the bolts securing the calliper. Gently wiggle the calliper until it comes off. Be careful not to damage the brake line or brake pads.

    5. Replace the brake pads – slide the old brake pads out from the calliper bracket. Pay attention to how the brake pads are placed for easy installation of the new ones. Clean the calliper and bracket with brake cleaner.

    6. Install new brake pads – Apply brake lubricant on the back of the new brake pads (where they contact the calliper). Slide the brake pads into the calliper bracket where the old ones were.

    7. Reset the calliper piston – If the calliper piston needs to be reset, use a C-clamp or a brake calliper tool to slowly compress it back into place. This makes room for the new, thicker brake pads.

    8. Reattach the calliper – Carefully place the calliper back over the brake pads. Align it properly and tighten the bolts securely.

    9. Reinstall the wheel – Put the wheel back on and tighten the lug nuts by hand. Lower the car from the jack stands and then fully tighten the lug nuts with the wrench.

    10. Testing – Pump the brake pedal a few times to ensure proper contact between the brake pads and rotor. Check the brake fluid level and top up if needed.

    11. Final check – Start the engine and test the brakes in a safe, open area. Listen for any unusual noises coming from the brake pads and test for smooth braking.

    Comparison shopping

    Maximise your savings by comparing prices for brake pads and mechanics. Obtain multiple quotes from reputable mechanics or garages, considering factors like part quality, warranties, and labour rates. 

    This informed approach ensures cost-effectiveness without compromising on the quality installation of new brake pads.

    Routine maintenance

    Proactive maintenance is a cost-saving strategy. Regularly inspecting and servicing the braking system can identify issues early, preventing costly repairs. Simple tasks like cleaning brake components, lubricating moving parts, and addressing minor wear contribute to prolonged brake pad life.

    What brake system components should you check?

    Save your future self money by making sure that your entire brake system is working properly. This includes: 

    • Rotors – Warped or worn rotors can compromise braking efficiency. Regular checks and timely resurfacing or replacement prevent extensive damage, reducing overall repair costs in the long run.

    • Brake callipers – Sticking or malfunctioning callipers can lead to uneven brake pad wear and decreased performance. Periodic inspections and prompt calliper replacements ensure optimal braking function, saving costs on extensive repairs.

    • Brake fluid – Neglected brake fluid, or fluid that’s been forgotten about in your brake system, can cause corrosion and reduce braking effectiveness. Regular fluid checks and timely replacements (mark your calendar for roughly every 2 years) maintain fluid integrity, preserving the entire braking system and avoiding costly repairs.

    Neglecting rotor, calliper, or brake fluid issues jeopardises overall vehicle safety. Compromised stopping power, uneven brake wear, and the potential for brake failure pose significant risks on the road.


    Can I replace one set of brake pads at a time?

    Experts recommend replacing all worn brake pads simultaneously. Uneven wear on brake pads may compromise performance, whereas changing all pads at once ensures balanced braking.

    What is the average lifespan of a set of brake pads?

    The lifespan for brake pads varies based on driving habits and vehicle type, but generally, brake pads last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles.

    Are there any warning signs that my rotors need to be replaced?

    Squeaking, pulsation, or longer braking distances signal potential rotor issues. Inspect your brake pads and vehicle as soon as possible if you experience any of these issues.

    Should I replace brake discs along with my brake pads?

    It’s advisable to inspect brake discs when replacing your brake pads. If a brake disc shows signs of wear, scoring, or has uneven surfaces, you should replace them along with your brake pads to ensure that your car’s brakes work correctly. While mandatory, addressing both components simultaneously enhances safety and prevents additional future issues.

    How long does it take to replace brake pads?

    It typically takes 1 to 2 hours to replace worn out brake pads. However, vehicle type, brake pad accessibility, and the need for additional services, such as rotor resurfacing, can increase replacement time for brake pads.

    Need to sell your car?

    Want to learn more about owning, maintaining, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from Clean Air Zones to car tax, and plate changes to part exchange.