Are Brake Pads Sold In Pairs? (All You Have to Know!)

Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Leepu Da Maxim

Brake pads are sold in pairs regardless of the model and brand. According to many professionals expert, it is wiser to replace both brake pads on the same axle at the same time because brake pads are worn symmetrically in the front or rear.

Key Takeaways

  • In the current market, you will find three types of brake pads ceramic, semi-metallic, and organic brake pads
  • Usually, brake pads are sold in sets of 4 but that doesn’t mean you have to change all 4 brake pads at once
  • You can change one pair of brake pads either from the  front or rear axle only
  • You should change both the brake pads and rotors at the same time or the performance could be umeven

Most Common Types Of Brake Pads

Brake padsMain features
Non-Asbestos OrganicContains filling materials, high-temperature resins, and fibers with the proper noise level and smooth operation Can generate dust and wear out somewhat quickly
Semi-MetallicIt is manufactured with friction modifiers, copper or graphite, and wool or steel wireOptimal heat transfer and long life versatile compatibility with different vehicles
CeramicIt is manufactured with non-ferrous materials, bonding agents, and ceramic fiberglass dust generated less noise, and slow wear requires a larger budget than other options
Low-Metallic NAOOnly 10% to 30% of metal and organic materials have high level of heat transfer and good braking functionality 

Do Brake Pads Come In Sets Of 2 Or 4?

Do Brake Pads Come In Sets Of 2 Or 4

In the vast majority of brake pad boxes, you will find 4 units. It is one brake pad for each tire of the vehicle. It is also possible to find a set of additional parts next to these four main components.

In this case, it is additional hardware to complement the functionality and increase the advantages of braking. In contrast, brake pads are not sold as a single unit. Here it is simply a matter of symmetrical wear on the front and rear axles. That is why the two brake pads on each axle of the vehicle must be replaced.

Can You Replace Just One Set Of Brake Pads?

Today a lot of users decide to replace just one set of brake pads on their vehicles. So, the most common decision is to replace the brake pads on either the front or rear axle only. In other words, it is a matter of replacing the components that are most worn out and thus saving some money.

However, it is necessary to keep in mind that this could generate more inconveniences in the future. Although the pair of components that are not replaced are not as worn, there is still an asymmetry.

Here, this pair of brake pads will always have less life than the new one to be incorporated into the vehicle. In particular, this unevenness can be dangerous and provide very unsafe functionality for the user.

Should You Replace All 4 Brake Pads At Once?

In the vast majority of vehicles, the 4 brake pads of any model usually wear more or less symmetrically. That is why the most recommendable thing according to the experts is to replace all 4 brake pads at the same time. Otherwise, the functionality could be uneven, which surely generates inconveniences.

When a user decides to make this decision, then he or she will be able to obtain a safer performance and functionality on every trip. On the contrary, changing only two brake pads can lead to certain failures in other vehicle components.

Without a doubt, this is not a good way to save money. So, here you will continue to spend money on repairing the failures caused by uneven brake pads. 

Can I Just Replace Brake Pads And Not the Rotors?

One way to save some money is to only replace the brake pads on a vehicle. This way, many times the rotors of a car or other vehicle are left behind. In this case, it is a poor decision if you have the budget to make all the changes possible.

In particular, it is recommended that you change the rotors along with all 4 of the vehicle’s brake pads. So, new brake pads can be polished optimally with new rotors. In this way, it is possible to obtain maximum functionality from each of these components. So, it is always a good decision to have the entire budget for improving the functionality of your vehicle. 

How Much Does It Cost To Have Brake Pads Replaced?

In this case, you should keep in mind that not all brake pads of different quality require the same budget. So, to get started you will need between $100 and $300 to replace a pair of single-axle brake pads on the vehicle. As we have mentioned, it is not highly recommended to replace a single axle of the brake pads.

So, if you want to incorporate the highest quality brake pads for both axles of your vehicle you will need a budget of approximately $600. Here, the high cost will provide you with a much longer life compared to other qualities. In turn, you would need to consider replacing all four rotors of the vehicle as well. You will then need to budget a little more.

How Long Does It Take To Get Brake Pads Replaced?

To begin with, it is necessary to mention that this is a procedure that cannot be done by just anyone. This is because specialized and general mechanical knowledge is required. Otherwise, any hobbyist could make mistakes during the installation of these components. Of course, this is not recommended at all.

In other words, a mistake in installation could be a serious one. Therefore, the vehicle could run out of brakes when in operation. This is why a skilled mechanic is trained to perform the replacement of parts. When a skilled mechanic does not encounter major problems, the process takes between 30 minutes and an hour. So, it is not a very complex task. 

Are Rear Brakes More Expensive Than The Front?

When you want to replace the 4 brake pads of a vehicle, you’ll find a small detail. In this case, a different budget is needed when you want to replace the front or rear axle components. In particular, brake pads and rotors on the front axle will always be less expensive than on the rear axle.

That’s why, when you want to make a replacement of the rear axle brake pads and rotors with a standard quality there is a difference. On average, you will need between $25 and about $75 extra compared to the front axle.

This is why a lot of users decide to replace the components of a single axle of the vehicle. Beyond the budget, experts recommend replacing parts on both axles at the same time. 

How Do I Know When My Brake Pads Need Changing?

How Do I Know When My Brake Pads Need Changing

To detect the exact moment when your brake pads need changing, there are some symptoms that you can pay attention to. Four main signs are common and happen in almost every vehicle.

1. Squeaking:

In particular, this is the most common sign of all and is the squeaking that occurs when you use your brakes. It is a very high-pitched sound that is very easy to detect instantly. You will need to replace the brake pads to avoid further inconvenience and future failure.

2. Indicator Lights:

Only a few vehicle models include a set of indicator lights of different types. These lights can inform you about an engine problem or the exact time you should replace your brake pads. So, if the indicator lights are working properly then you will need to purchase new brake pads for your vehicle.

3. Deep Metal Grinds:

Here, it is necessary to consider that when a deep metal sound can be heard, then it is not just the brake pads. In this case, you should seriously consider replacing the vehicle’s brake calipers and brake discs.

Failure to do so will result in increased failure and deterioration of the entire brake system. Also, safe operation here is greatly diminished.

4. Brake Pad Size:

Another common sign is thin brake pads. Here, when the thickness is less than ¼ of an inch, or 3 millimeters, you will need to change the brake pads. Also, you may notice that the brake pads are too tight against the vehicle’s rotors. If you’re on a budget, you should change your vehicle’s rotors as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need New Rotors?

Experts generally recommend checking brake rotors every 60,000 miles or so. Of course, you have the option of repainting these components instead of replacing them. Also, if you have already done this procedure, then it is highly recommended that you purchase new rotors for your car.

It is an excellent opportunity to replace both the four brake rotors and the four brake pads that your vehicle needs. Of course, the budget may be high, but you get a safe functionality. On the contrary, when you only replace some parts, the rest of them will continue to wear unevenly.

Which Brake Pads Are Better Ceramic Or Metallic?

First, brake pads have ceramic components that generate less dust and offer superior functionality. That’s why they are also more expensive than semi-metallic brake pads. Besides, the service life is much longer and more convenient, so it is a good decision to purchase ceramic brake pads.