This will probably start a flaming session on this thread, but here
are my thoughts.
40-60K on OEM pads is typical. However, it really depends on the
vehicle. I've seen some Chrysler minivans wear out a set of OEM pads
in as little as 28K. I've also seen some vehicles get 80K.
On replacement pads, it's really a matter of putting in a quality set.
There are NO industry standards on what you can call a premium pad.
Zip, nadda. So the cheap crap that's coming in from China is all
labeled PREMIUM. It's such a huge problem that the reputable brake
friction companies have started an independent testing lab to test
their products. If it's B.E.E.P. or D3EA certified, it's a quality
When it comes to the type of friction material, you can't just go with
a blanket statements that ceramics are better. Ceramics offer some
advantages, longer life isn't one of them. They are really designed
for quieter operation and less brake dust, as opposed to
semi-metallics which offer the best heat dissapation and stopping
power. Ceramic composition varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Again, no industry standard.
Same thing with rotors. The economy rotors are the worst. You can buy
a name brand Wagner or Raybestos rotor and an economy rotor for the
same vehicle, and the economy rotor will weigh less, have thinner
friction surfaces, and fewer cooling vanes. They don't fit on the hub
as well and that can cause them to warp faster. Because they're made
from cheaper metals, they can chew up a set of pad mighty fast. It's
the rotors job to absorb and then dissapate heat quickly. If it's
thinner right out of the box, you're compromising safety. Tests by
Raybestos show greater stopping distances with economy rotors.
The other thing many shops overlook is the operation of the rear
brakes. They only do 20% of the braking, but if they aren't working
properly, that extra 20% on the fronts really puts them over the edge.
That means properly adjusting the rears, making sure the self
adjusters work, and checking the operation of the proportioning valve.