IS IT RECOMMENDED TO ALWAYS REPLACE BOTH FRONT ...
2001 Volkswagen Jetta
Is it recommended to always replace both front and / or rear brake pads when required?
Wednesday, January 16th, 2013 AT 3:35 PM
Absolutely, but it depends on how you interpret what you wrote. ALL brake pads must be replaced when required, but not all pads are required at the same time. All brake parts manufacturers pay very close attention to the "coefficient of friction" of their linings. The front and rear brakes are always carefully matched for balanced braking when the car is designed. Replacement linings must have that same friction as the originals. That's why in some cases the replacements might have a slightly larger or smaller surface area. That's to adjust for the difference in the friction characteristics.
What that means is you can replace just the front brake pads and maintain balanced braking. The fronts typically wear out two to three times faster than the rear linings, although many manufacturers use much smaller linings on the rear. That can cause them to all wear out at about the same rate.
When any brakes are replaced, the new linings will never achieve their full stopping potential until they wear down a little to match the rotors. You have to take it easy for that first 100 to 200 miles. Many mechanics prefer to replace the front and rear brakes at the same time so both have reduced braking performance at first, but it will be equal and balanced. Also, doing all the brakes at once usually costs less in dollars and in time than doing half the brakes at two different times.
If the rear linings are at least 1/3 left, you don't have to have them replaced yet, but that's a judgement call with a lot of variables. You have to compare the mileage you listed with how much pad lining is left, with how many times they've been replaced already, and if that history is due to your driving or that of a previous owner.