Will Insurance Pay for Brake Pad Replacement?
Last Updated on August 13, 2020
Brake pad replacement is a necessary part of owning a vehicle. Every vehicle needs its brake pads replaced after a certain number of miles.
Brake pad replacement can cost several hundred dollars. You buy car insurance to protect your vehicle. But does car insurance cover brake pads and similar items? Or do you need to pay for brake pad replacement out of pocket?
A standard car insurance policy does not cover brake pad replacement. In fact, car insurance does not cover any wear and tear to your vehicle.
Today, we’re explaining how insurance works, including when brake pad replacement may be covered.
How Do Brakes Work?
Brake pads slow your vehicle by eliminating kinetic energy. Your vehicle is moving forward and has significant kinetic energy. To slow your vehicle down, that kinetic energy needs to be transferred somewhere. Your brakes transfer that kinetic energy into heat using friction.
When you press your foot onto your brake pedal, it initiates a series of events between your foot and your tires. As the brake pedal compresses, a connected lever pushes a piston into the master cylinder. This cylinder is filled with hydraulic fluid. This hydraulic fluid gets sent along a system of pipes, ultimately arriving in other, wider cylinders positioned next to the brakes on each wheel.
In old cars, the force of your brake was directly proportional to the force applied to the tires – just like how bicycle brakes work. Modern vehicles use hydraulics, however, which multiply your force, allowing you to easily stop a fast car even without superhuman strength.
The hydraulic system multiplies the force of your foot on the brake pedal, creating enough force to make the car stop.
Most modern vehicles use two types of brakes, including disc brakes on the front wheels and drum brakes on the rear wheels, although higher-end vehicles have disc brakes on all four wheels.
A disc brake consists of three components:
- A brake disc
- A brake caliper
- A brake pad
After pressing the brake pedal and activating the hydraulic system, the hydraulic fluid forces the brake caliper to press the brake pad against the brake disc. The brake pad rubs against the disc, which generates friction. This friction converts the kinetic energy into heat. The pad absorbs the heat, then gradually dissipates it.
Brake pads experience significant strain during this process. Stopping a fast vehicle can cause the brakes to heat up to nearly 1000° F. Brake pads must be made from special material to withstand this heat. Most brake pads are made of alloys, ceramics, and composite materials.
Drum brakes also use friction to stop your vehicle, although they apply friction differently.
Drum brakes have two components:
- Brake drum
- Brake shoes
When you press the brake pedal down, it activates the same hydraulic fluids as with disc brakes, although this hydraulic cylinder pushes brake shoes against the inner surface of the brake drum. These shoes have special linings that create friction, converting the kinetic energy of the tire into heat, slowing the vehicle.
No Car Insurance Covers Brake Pad Replacement
Standard car insurance will not cover brake pad replacement – regardless of if you have full coverage or basic liability coverage.
Standard car insurance consists of three components, including:
Liability Insurance (Required): All states except Virginia and New Hampshire require liability insurance. Without liability insurance, you cannot legally drive on public roads. Liability insurance compensates other people for any damages you cause. It includes coverage for bodily injuries (like medical bills and lost wages) and property damage (like car repair expenses).
Collision Coverage (Optional): Collision coverage compensates you for any damage you cause to your own vehicle during an accident. After an at-fault accident, for example, you make a collision coverage claim to cover the cost of repairing vehicle damage.
Comprehensive Coverage (Optional): Comprehensive coverage covers the cost of repairing damage to your own vehicle for any reason – like hail damage, fire damage, theft, or vandalism. You can make a comprehensive claim to cover these types of damages.
None of these insurance types cover brake pad replacement. You cannot make a car insurance claim for wear and tear.
Why You Can’t Claim Wear and Tear on Car Insurance
Car insurance covers unexpected expenses – like a T-bone collision with a vehicle at an intersection, or the theft of your vehicle from your garage.
Car insurance does not cover expected expenses – like the cost of brake pad replacement or tire replacement.
When you buy a car, you know you’re going to have to pay for certain things. Cars don’t last forever, and certain parts need to be replaced. You know you’ll have to replace your tires, for example, and change your oil.
Brake pad replacement is a type of wear and tear. Over time, your brake pads wear down and need to be replaced. It’s an expected part of car ownership.
Consider Mechanical Breakdown Insurance for Brake Pad Replacement
Sometimes, car insurance can cover certain types of wear and tear. If you buy mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI), then it’s possible certain types of wear and tear are covered – including brake pad replacement.
Mechanical breakdown insurance compensates you for certain types of vehicle breakdowns. If your engine or transmission fails, for example, then you can make a claim through mechanical breakdown insurance and receive complete compensation.
It’s possible mechanical breakdown insurance could cover brake failure, squeaky brakes, and similar brake-related issues.
Mechanical breakdown insurance is only available on new vehicles. Typically, your car must be less than 3 years old with fewer than 25,000 miles to qualify for mechanical breakdown insurance. Requirements vary between providers.
Signs You Need to Replace your Brake Pads
Do you need to replace your brake pads? Some vehicles have a sensor on each brake pad, and this sensor sends a signal to your car when the pad needs to be replaced.
Here are some of the obvious signs your brake pads need to be replaced:
- There’s an indicator light on your dashboard
- Squeaky brakes during dry weather conditions
- Deep, grinding metal sound
- Vibrating brake pedal
- Brake pads appear thin (less than ¼ inch thick)
If you notice one or more of the symptoms above, then you may need to replace your brake pads.
Final Word on Insurance and Brake Pads
No standard car insurance policy covers brake pad replacement. Car insurance covers unexpected expenses – like the cost of an accident or vehicle theft. Car insurance does not cover routine maintenance or expected costs – like wear and tear.
If you want to maximize coverage, consider mechanical breakdown insurance, which could cover certain wear and tear. Otherwise, you need to pay for all brake pad replacement out of pocket, as no car insurance covers brake pad replacement.