What do you know about the system responsible for safely bringing your car to a stop? Your brakes go far beyond the pedal you depress under your foot.

Learn the difference between disc and drum brakes, when your brake pads need replacing, and more from the car repair experts at Master Muffler.

The Types of Brakes

Passenger cars, trucks, and vans can have one or two types of brakes: disc or drum.

Disc Brakes

This type of braking system uses pads that create friction, which helps slow your vehicle. Disc brakes are used on the front axle of a vehicle, and it’s optional to also have them on the rear axle.

Drum Brakes

The primary source of friction in drum brakes is a shoe, shaped like a half-moon. It presses against a drum, which slows your car. Drum brakes are only used on rear axles these days, if at all.

How Long do Brakes Last?

Depending on how aggressively you drive, and whether you do more city or highway driving, your brakes pads or shoes can last varying amounts of time. Obviously, repeated friction wears down the pads or shoes in your brakes, and they’ll eventually need to be replaced. Without these buffers in your brakes, you’ll have metal grinding against metal, which not only sounds terrible but compromises the safety of your braking system.

In general, vehicles that log city miles can get up to 35,000 miles out of their brake pads or shoes, while vehicles logging more highway miles might get closer to 80,000 miles of use.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Brake Pads/Shoes

If you hear persistent squeals when braking, it’s probably time to replace your brake pads or shoes. It’s normal for brakes to squeal a bit more in wet weather, so if the sounds continue after your car has had time to dry out, you aren’t just dealing with a little moisture in your brakes.

You can also do a visual inspection of your brakes pads/shoes, or turn to the Downtown Ogden car repair crew at Master Muffler for assistance. Checking on the brakes usually involves removing the wheels, so it’s not really a quick process. If upon inspection it looks like there’s less than ¼ inch of brake pad in disc brakes, you should get them replaced.

Thankfully, many vehicles have a dashboard light indicator to give drivers a heads up regarding their braking system. Check your owner’s manual to learn what your brake warning system light looks like (it’s often an exclamation mark inside a circle) so you recognize it. If it illuminates on your dash, it usually means the pads are worn thin and need to be replaced.

Choosing the Right Brake Pads

Like tires, there are different types of brake pads that are designed for different types of performance. Here are common features to consider:

Weather and Temperature

Your brake pads should provide optimal performance regardless of the climate you live in. External temperatures should not affect your brake pads, but you should consider how hot your vehicle runs; brake pads have a maximum operating temperature and that threshold shouldn’t be exceeded.

Brake Bite

If you drive your car for short commutes, you can invest in brake pads with “cold” bite. This means the temperature in the vehicle isn’t as hot as that in a high-performance vehicle, which requires brake pads that can handle “hot” bite.


Like a good set of tires, the right brake pads can reduce the amount of noise you hear in your vehicle’s cabin. Brake pads can also reduce vibration in your vehicle, which is why changes instability when braking is an indicator there may be a problem.

Types of Brake Pads

There are three commonly used types of brake pads, and you should always refer to your owner’s manual before settling on one.

Ceramic Brake Pads

Combined with copper fibers, ceramic pads are incredibly durable. They do tend to become brittle in colder temperatures, so they’re best in warmer climates. 

Organic Brake Pads

If you’re looking for lightweight pads, organic can be the way to go. Formally made with asbestos, they’re now constructed of materials such as carbon, glass, and rubber. Organic pads are very quiet, but they don’t last as long as ceramic pads.

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

Perhaps most common, these pads are made from copper, iron, and steel (among other metals). They’re good for high-heat vehicles, or heavier-weight trucks/SUVs. 

Brake Endorsements

You don’t have to rely solely on Downtown Ogden car repair technicians to help you choose the best brake pads; many are certified and/or have a warranty. If the pads wear out before the promised mileage, you can get them replaced under warranty. Keep in mind that sometimes a condition of a warranty is to have the brake pads professionally installed. Doing it yourself might void any warranty.

If our Downtown Ogden car repair team can help you with your brakes, give us a call today. We can service the brakes you have, or help with an after-market install.