How Long Will 3mm Brake Pads Last? [Answered]

It is vital that brake pads are replaced in good time before they run out. You do not need to wrack your brains on when it is time to change them– you can tell by just listening. So, will 3mm brake pads last you for a while? 

Once the lining of the brake pads has reached the 3-4mm range, it is time to have them replaced. However, with the 3mm pads, you can drive for no more than 50,000miles. This will depend on the frequency and aggressiveness the driver uses when applying brakes.  

This article focuses on the brake pads and the required thickness to prevent damage to important components of the braking system. 

Can You Drive With 3mm Brake Pads?

how long will 3mm brake pads last

It is possible to drive with 3mm brake pads. However, any mechanic will tell you that it is time to change them. Anything below that thickness becomes a threat to your safety as it could cause the brakes to fail, and we all know what is likely to happen next. 

The standard thickness for a new brake pad is usually 12mm. Now, with that in mind, you realize that the 3mm is a result of much wear and tear. Once the pads start to wear past the 6mm, you need to be keen on the tell-tale signs. 

Typically, the brake pads work alongside a metal burr that contacts the rotor at 3mm. This causes a squeal which, if you know better, is an indicator that the brakes need servicing. Ignoring these warning signs will cost you much more than servicing the brakes would.

This could result in potential damage to the rotor among other vital components of the braking system. Having them checked regularly will not only keep you safe, but all save you time and money in the long run. 

What Should You Do When Your Brake Pads Are 3mm Left?

One way to ensure that your brake pads do not go below the minimum requirement is regular checking and replacement when necessary. One such time is when they are only 3mm. This is a critical thickness and it would be best to have them replaced as soon as possible. 

Driving with 3mm of brake pads left for long is risky and a safety threat. It could also result in damage to the rotors and braking system of your vehicle. Therefore, you should drive to the nearest brake shop to have them replaced if only 3mm is left. 

Is 3mm Brake Pads Thickness Bad?

Brake discs have replaced the brake shoes that were used in the older drum braking systems. Nowadays, vehicle manufacturers have adopted the disc braking system to stop or slow down vehicles. The system typically consists of a brake caliper which contains brake pads and pistons. The disc spins along with the rotation of the wheel as the vehicle moves. 

In the event the driver needs to stop or slow down, the caliper applies pressure to the brake pads when the brake pedals are pressed. This causes the pad to push against the disc. The friction that is created between the disc and brake pad is what ultimately causes the car to slow down. 

With that in mind, you understand the important role that the brake pads play. A thickness of 3mm for brake pads may not necessarily be bad but is the limit below which they will not function properly. 

How Far Can You Drive With 3mm Brake Pads?

If you are brake pads have a thickness of 3mm, they are likely to take you about 50,000 miles, could be less. This depends on how often and how aggressively you use the brakes.

Moreover, while the materials used to construct the brake pads such as steel backing, friction materials, and rubberized coatings are strong, they are not built to last forever. With frequent braking as you drive, they will start to wear out and they can go below the 3mm thickness. If this happens, it poses a serious risk. 

It is important that you have them replaced as soon as possible. You can easily get a longer life from your brake pads if you find ones with the right thickness. 


It is advisable to keep checking the lining thickness anytime you are changing oil. Often, the shops that do brakes will automatically check them for you. You can also monitor them yourself. Usually, when the brake pads have worn out to about 3mm, there is a squeal. If you hear that, it just means you should change them. 

The terrain and driving conditions also determine how long it takes to wear out your brake pad lining. For instance, driving downhill in mountainous countries will require constant braking which wears them out. If you are driving in town or in stop-and-go traffic, the pads are likely to be worn out faster compared to driving on highway miles. 

Often, the manufacturers of different vehicles recommended the minimum brake pad thickness. However, it is often advised to replace them when they go as thin as 3mm. Sometimes some car owners can get away with 2mm, but this is not a risk you should be willing to take. 

Final Thoughts

The braking performance heavily depends on the thickness of the brake pads. In most cases, 3-4mm is the recommended thickness to replace your brake pads. It is advisable to keep checking it to keep yourself safe at all times. 

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