Should You Replace All 4 Brake Pads or Just 2?


Your car brake pads are essential for safety. They need regular checks and replacements to make sure they stop your car properly.

This guide by All Aspect Motors will answer common questions about brakes and brake pads, including how to tell when you need brake pad replacement and whether you should replace all 4 at once.

Understanding Brake Pads

Brakes are essential for slowing down and stopping your car.

Brake pads press against discs called rotors to create friction, which is what makes your car slow down. These pads wear out over time.

So, it’s important to replace them when they get too thin.

Front vs. Rear Brakes: Do Both Need Replacing?

Brake pads are sold in sets for both front and rear wheels. But you might not need to replace all four at once. This is because of something called weight transfer.

When you brake, your car naturally dips forward, putting more pressure on the front brakes. This causes them to wear out faster than the rear brakes.

Ideally, according to the 70/30 braking rule, 70% of your braking force should come from the front wheels, and 30% from the rear. This is because the fronts can handle it better.

However, you don’t need to worry about this split exactly. Most cars today have ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) that figures it out for you. In an emergency, just press the brake pedal hard and hold it down, the ABS will do the rest.

The most important thing is to brake smoothly and avoid slamming on the brakes. Also, keep a safe distance from the car in front of you so you have time to brake safely.

Read More:

What’s the Difference Between Car Service and Car Repairs?

Factors Affecting Rear Brake Pad Wear

Technology and driving habits influence rear brake pad wear:

  • Modern Braking Tech: Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) can distribute braking power more evenly or prevent wheels from locking, which can affect rear pad wear.
  • Driving Habits: Aggressive braking, frequent mountain driving, or stop-and-go traffic can wear down both front and rear pads faster.

When to Replace Brake Pads: The 80% Rule

Wondering how to tell if your brake pads are worn?

Most pads have a built-in wear indicator. A thin metal strip that scrapes the rotors when the pad reaches around 20% thickness. This is your cue to get them replaced.

With 80% worn, the pad’s ability to stop your car safely is reduced, especially in emergencies. Brake pads replacement is necessary in such a situation.

Read More:

Easy Guide To Brake Fluid Change

How to Measure Pad Thickness?

Ideally, use a special tool. But a ruler can work too. Consulting a mechanic is always a good option.

Warning Signs: You Need Brake Pad Change

Here are some signs your brakes are saying SOS:

  • Dashboard Warning Light: A red or yellow light, often with an exclamation point and “brake” or “ABS” warning, is a clear sign to get your brakes checked.
  • Loud Unusual Noises: Squealing, screeching, or grinding noises when braking means the metal backing of your worn pads is scraping the rotors.
  • Shaking Steering Wheel: A vibrating steering wheel while braking can indicate uneven rotors or worn pads.
  • Spongy Brake Pedal: A mushy pedal with less (or more) resistance than usual can signify problems with the brake system.

Should I Replace All Four Brake Pads?

There are a few reasons why you should replace all four brake pads at once, even if the rear ones seem fine:

  1. Balanced braking: New pads on both axles ensure even braking, which is important for safety.
  2. Manufacturer recommendations: Some carmakers recommend replacing all four pads for peak performance.
  3. Similar wear rate: Even though the front brakes do most of the work, the rear brakes can wear out at a similar pace due to their size.
  4. Saves Money in the Long Run: Changing brake pads all at once can prevent damage to rotors, which are expensive to fix.
  5. Convenience: Get it all done in one service appointment.

But it’s also okay to replace just 2 brake pads at a time:

  1. Uneven Wear: If your front pads wear out faster than the back ones, you can just replace the fronts. This is common because the front brakes do most of the work.
  1. Driving Conditions: City driving with lots of stopping wears pads faster than highway driving.
  1. Driving Habits: If you drive gently and don’t slam on your brakes a lot, your pads may wear evenly and you can replace them in pairs.
  2. Limited Budget: Replacing all 4 pads can be expensive. If you can’t afford it all at once, it’s okay to replace the most worn pair first and then do the others later.


It’s always best to consult with a mechanic to see if you need to replace all four pads. They can measure the thickness of your pads and recommend the best course of action.

How Much To Replace Brake Pads Australia

The brake pad installation cost in Australia can vary depending on a few factors:

  1. Number of brake pads replaced: Replacing all four pads will generally be more expensive than just replacing the front or rear pads.
  2. Type of brake pads: Standard brake pads are the most affordable option, while high-performance pads will be more expensive.
  3. Your car’s make and model: Different cars require different brake pads, and some can be more expensive than others.

Here’s a general idea of the brake pads cost in Australia:

  • Replacing all four brake pads: This can cost anywhere from $520 to $1,200 or more.
  • Replacing the front brake pads only: This can cost from $200 to $500 or more.
  • Replacing the rear brake pads only: This is typically less expensive than replacing the front pads, costing around $130 per axle (which means replacing both rear wheels) to start.

Additional Tips for Safe Brakes

Ultimately, the decision of whether to replace all 4 brakes at once depends on your specific situation. Here are some tips for making an informed choice:

  1. Consult Your Owner’s Manual: Your car’s manual might have specific recommendations for brake pad replacement intervals and procedures.
  2. Schedule a Brake Inspection: A qualified mechanic can assess the condition of your brakes and advise you on the best course of action.
  3. Follow your owner’s manual: It will have specific recommendations for brake pad replacement for your car.
  4. Don’t Compromise on Safety: If you’re unsure, prioritize safety and opt for replacing all four brakes.


Read More:

Brake Failure Safety Guide: Stop Your Car Safely When Brakes Fail

Remember, safety is the most important thing. Don’t wait too long to change brake pads, especially if you notice any warning signs.

Here at All Aspects Motors, your safety is our top priority. Our certified technicians can inspect your brakes, explain your options, and recommend the best course of action for your car and budget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *