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Brake pads and discs: correct maintenance and what a change costs

The brake pads and discs have to be changed from time to time - this is often an expensive affair. What the brake replacement costs and how often it is necessary. All information and tips.

The braking system is extremely hard work: after all, it has to reliably decelerate a vehicle that weighs tons and bring it to a stop in the shortest possible time, even at high speeds. Many people take it for granted that the braking system works, it but can also fail with poor maintenance - with dire consequences.

Because brake pads and brake discs are subject to wear, they must be checked and changed from time to time. The price varies depending on the vehicle. The ADAC has put together how expensive and what is fundamentally important.

How does the braking system work?

A so-called "friction brake system" is used in cars. you converts kinetic energy into heat. The brake pads press against the brake disc or drum, creating friction - the car slows down. The brake fluid transfers the pressure that is exerted on the brake pedal to the wheel brake.

Electric and hybrid vehicles In addition to the friction brake system, they also have a recuperation brake system. This converts kinetic energy into electrical energy and uses the electric motor as a generator.

How often do you have to change brake pads and discs?

Modern braking systems stop between approx. 40,000 and 120,000 kilometers. How quickly they wear out depends on the driving style, the vehicle and the route profile. In addition to mechanical wear and tear, corrosion from environmental influences (moisture and road salt) can also become a problem and lead to irreparable damage.

For older vehicles the brake pads usually had to be replaced much earlier and independently of the discs. In modern cars, pads and windows are usually replaced at the same time.

How do you recognize worn brake pads or brake discs?

The trained view of a motor vehicle expert recognizes whether the Brake pads still good. They should be replaced if there are around two to three millimeters of residual coating on disc brakes and around one millimeter on drum brakes. The "TÜV" also keeps an eye on it. Some cars also have one Brake wear indicator in the instrument cluster (see above).

Brake discs and brake drums also wear out over time. As a rule, the manufacturer specifies minimum thicknesses for these components. If they are undercut, an exchange is pending.

What does it cost to change the brakes?

The costs vary from model to model. Basically, one can say: Because a more powerful brake system is used in vehicles with high horsepower, it is more expensive to change than with a weak, small car. On the Škoda Fabia, for example, brake pads and discs at the front cost around 370 euros, and on an Audi A8 they cost 1426.

In the table below, the ADAC has the Costs for current model series common in Germany listed.

The price is aAverage value across all variants of the series mentioned and includes material, wages and VAT. It is to be seen as a guide and can vary depending on the region, location and workshop. Information without guarantee of correctness and completeness.

Can you change brake pads or brake discs yourself?

The ADAC generally advises against this, after all, your safety is at stake. Such work should only be carried out by a specialist with the appropriate knowledge and special tools.

Brake discs and drum brakes - what's the difference?

In the drum brake press the brake pads against a drum from the inside. As a closed system, it is less sensitive to rust than disc brakes. Disadvantage: When heated, their braking effect diminishes. Therefore, it is almost only installed in small cars and there on the less loaded axle at the rear.

In the Disc brake press brake shoes onto the brake disc from both sides. Because it is not housed in any housing, it is directly exposed to environmental influences, but can therefore transport the heat away better: The braking effect remains almost constant for much longer.

Negligent maintenance - what can happen?

If the brake pads are not changed in time, the braking performance will drop dramatically Braking distance can sometimes increase significantly. In addition, brake discs are damaged as soon as the pad carrier presses on the brake disc. In addition, the vehicle can pull in one direction when braking.

Noise and rust - is that dangerous?

Often after long periods of inactivity Sounds. If these persist even after repeated braking, this can indicate a worn component. As well as Vibrations on the steering wheel when braking or in the brake pedal. The following applies in all cases: ask a specialist, such as a master mechanic, for advice. If a disc brake is used too little, it can rust and be damagedso that an early exchange is necessary.

However, rust forms even when wet after a very short time. But that is not dangerous. Some stronger braking usually also loosens stubborn rust from the brake disc while driving. If there is still a rusty coating or a larger, non-metallic, shiny area, then it is a question of one Stand damage. A repair is due.

But you can prevent this: ideal is a dry, protected parking space like a garage and regular use of the vehicle.

Technical advice: Matthias Zimmermann / ADAC technical center

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