Brake pads are designed to wear out, and need to be replaced regularly. When doing so, it is important you remove the old pads to install new ones, and this is the perfect opportunity to take a peek at the other components of the brake systems, clean them out and make sure everything is in good condition. This holds true especially if your car's brake pads have worn out prematurely, as this could indicate something is wrong with the brakes.
The life expectancy of brake pads depends on the type you have, how your drive and the condition of other braking components. For the most part, in ideal conditions, these pads should last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. Brake pads are most commonly made of either metal, ceramic or organic materials, and they are designed to provide friction to slow the wheels when the calipers squeeze against them. Once the pads wear past a certain point, the calipers will have trouble gripping them and your car won't be able to come to a stop as rapidly, which may be very dangerous.
Thankfully, brake pads have built-in warning systems. When the pads wear down to a certain thickness, a metal post will be uncovered. This scrapes across the calipers, and the metal-on-metal sound alerts drivers they need to have their brakes replaced soon. This shrill sound can be avoided entirely if drivers visually inspect the brake pad thickness regularly. The pads should be at least a quarter-inch thick, and anything thinner than that means they need to be replaced as soon as possible. Ignoring this may not only make driving more dangerous, but it can damage the other braking components and wind up costing a lot more time , money and aggravation to fix.
When you remove the old brake pads, you have a unique opportunity to access the rest of the system that you don't normally have. This provides the perfect window to inspect and clean the other parts. Most importantly, you can get inside and clean off any rust, corrosion or grime that may have built up. You should also check to make sure the parts are in decent condition.
If your brake pads have worn down unevenly or have evidence of deep grooves, you may want to take a close look at the calipers. Sticking calipers can drag along the brake pads even when you're not using the brakes, wearing them down faster. It will also create a bit of drag when you drive, since the brakes are essentially being slightly applied all the time with sticky calipers. This means the car has to work a bit harder to propel itself forward, which can reduce your vehicle's fuel economy. It can also create excess heat in the wheel and cause other damages. You can test this prior to a visual inspection by feeling the wheel surface after driving. If it is hot, you may be looking at a caliper problem.
You will want to clean the other components as well. This includes the pad abutments, mounting pads, hub assemblies and rotors. Small particles that may come loose from the brake pad during use can stick to the surfaces of other parts, such as the rotors, and affect the brakes' performance. You can clean the rotors and other parts with cleaners made for this area of the car, a brush and some rags.