Should I Replace All 4 Brake Pads at Once?

Author: Hou

Oct. 24, 2023

Automobiles & Motorcycles

When it comes to maintaining your vehicle's safety and performance, the brake system is a critical component. Over time, brake pads wear down, and it's essential to know when and how to replace them. One common question that often arises is whether you should replace all four brake pads at once. In this article, we'll explore the factors to consider when making this decision.

Understanding Brake Pads:

Brake pads are a crucial part of your vehicle's braking system. They create friction against the brake rotors to slow down and stop your vehicle. As you use your brakes, the friction wears down the brake pads, eventually necessitating replacement. Typically, vehicles have two sets of brake pads: the front brake pads and the rear brake pads. This brings us to the question of whether to replace all four at once.

Consider Your Vehicle Type:

The first factor to consider is the type of vehicle you drive. Different vehicles have different brake systems and requirements. In most standard passenger cars, the front brakes do a significant portion of the braking work, often up to 70-80%. This means that the front brake pads wear down faster than the rear ones. For these vehicles, it is common and acceptable to replace the front brake pads more frequently than the rear ones.


However, if you drive an all-wheel-drive (AWD) or four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicle, it's usually recommended to replace all four brake pads at once. In AWD and 4WD systems, power is distributed to all four wheels, and the braking load is more evenly distributed between the front and rear axles. Replacing all four brake pads ensures balanced braking performance and safety.

Balanced Braking Performance:

Replacing all four brake pads at once helps maintain balanced braking performance. When you install new front brake pads and leave the rear pads worn, you may experience uneven braking, longer stopping distances, and reduced overall control. This imbalance can lead to safety issues, especially during emergency braking situations.

Balanced braking performance is not only safer but also provides a smoother and more predictable driving experience. It ensures that your vehicle responds consistently when you apply the brakes, reducing the risk of skidding or loss of control.

Wear Patterns and Thickness:

Another factor to consider is the wear patterns and thickness of your existing brake pads. Brake pads should be replaced when they are worn to a certain thickness, typically around 3-4 millimeters. However, if you inspect your brake pads and find uneven wear, it may be an indication of other issues, such as caliper problems or rotor damage. In such cases, it's advisable to replace all four brake pads to address the underlying issue and restore balanced performance.

Cost Considerations:

The cost of replacing all four brake pads at once is another consideration. It's undeniable that replacing all four brake pads is more expensive than replacing just the front or rear set. However, it's important to weigh this cost against the potential safety and performance benefits. Safety should be the top priority, and investing in all four pads can provide peace of mind and prevent accidents.

Additionally, when you replace all four brake pads, you're more likely to have consistent wear patterns and longer-lasting brake components, potentially saving you money in the long run by reducing the risk of damage to other brake system parts.


In most cases, it is advisable to replace all four brake pads at once, especially if you drive an AWD or 4WD vehicle. This ensures balanced braking performance, better safety, and a smoother driving experience. However, the decision may also depend on the wear patterns, thickness, and specific recommendations of your vehicle manufacturer. Ultimately, prioritizing safety and following the guidance of a trusted mechanic will help you make the right decision when it comes to OEM brake pad replacement.





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