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If you are relatively new to driving or have just purchased your first vehicle you might be wondering whether cars mainly use their front brakes to stop or whether they will use both the front and rear brakes equally.
Although all vehicles will have both front and rear brakes the front brakes do a lot more of the braking work. That means the rear brakes will need to be replaced far less often and also means that the front brakes will heat up a lot faster (which can be a problem when driving in the mountains).
The rear brakes aren’t worthless as they will provide some of the stopping power of your vehicle but the majority of the work is done by your front brakes.
If you have ever slammed on the brakes while driving your car you will remember that anything inside the car (including you) moved (or flew) forward. This is because your front brakes are doing a lot of the stopping causing your vehicle to tilt down in the front and also anything inside to move forward because of the momentum.
So, although the front brakes are used far more and wear out far faster they are not the only way the vehicle is stopped as the rear brakes do some of the work as well.
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Do Some Cars Only Have Front Brakes?
Although this question might seem obvious to some people I still wanted to include it here as some of the newer drivers might think that since the car pitches forward when the brakes are pushed hard that their car might only have front brakes.
All vehicles have both front and rear brakes although the front brakes will do more of the stopping and therefore wear out faster than the rear brakes will.
Just because you have noticed that your vehicle tilts forward when stopping does not mean that your car doesn’t have rear brakes as well. It will have both front and rear brakes to provide as much stopping power as possible. You can often go twice as long without replacing the rear brakes when compared to the front brakes as the fronts do far more of the work.
However, despite the front brakes doing far more of the work, all cars will have both front and rear brake pads (or drums in some cases) on them.
Do Front Brakes Do Most Of The Stopping On A Car?
Many people wonder if the front or rear brakes do most of the stopping of a vehicle. Although I have mentioned it in the sections above I did want to give this question its own section so people who have this question can easily get the answer that they need.
The front brakes on your vehicle will provide most of the stopping power for your car. This simply has to do with the way the weight of your vehicle and its contents shift when stopping as well as the momentum of the vehicle.
Although the front brakes don’t do all of the work they do make up most of the braking power that causes your car to come to a stop. This is especially true when you brake hard as it will be very noticeable that the hood/front of your car will pitch forward dramatically which is a result of the front brakes working to stop your car quickly.
That doesn’t mean that the rear brakes don’t help as well; however, the front brakes will do most of the work.
What Percent Of Braking Is Done By The Front Brakes?
The front brakes do most of the stopping as mentioned above but what exactly does that mean? Is that 90%? 75%? 55%?
Somewhere between 60-75% of all the braking for a vehicle is done by the front brakes. It varies depending on how hard you brake. The harder you brake the more of the braking that is done by the front brakes.
If you typically drive harder/faster then the percent of the front brakes that are used for stopping your vehicle will be at the top of that range. However, if you drive more carefully and brake slowly over time instead of stopping hard at every stop sign or light then you will use less of the front brakes and more of the rear to stop your vehicle.
Which Brakes Wear Out Faster? Front Or Back?
As mentioned in the previous few sections, front brakes tend to take most of the wear and tear from the braking process since they do somewhere between 60-75% of the braking for the vehicle.
The front brakes of a vehicle will wear out considerably faster than the rear brakes. Most of the time you will have to replace the front brakes 2-3 times before you have to replace the rear brakes once.
Since the front brakes of a car do so much of the braking for the vehicle then they will obviously wear out faster since they are doing the majority of the work when the vehicle stops.
If your rear brakes are wearing out faster than your front brakes are then there is likely an issue with your vehicle which I will go into more detail about next.
Why Would Rear Brakes Wear Out Faster Than The Front?
As I have mentioned multiple times so far, the rear brakes shouldn’t wear out as fast as the front ones since the front brakes do most of the stopping of the vehicle. However, what if your rear brakes are wearing out faster than the fronts?
What could cause that to happen?
If your rear brakes are wearing out faster than the front brakes you could have a sticking caliper slides or pistons, your e brake could be stuck on (or malfunctioning), your front brakes could be failing, or you could be driving with two feet (constantly pushing on the brakes while driving down the road).
Of these (and many other possibilities) the most likely reason (if your vehicle is newer) is that the person who regularly drives the vehicle is driving with two feet instead of one. When you drive with two feet it not only causes your brakes to wear out prematurely but it will also cause the rear brakes to wear considerably faster as they will be “dragging” a lot.
If you know for sure that the driver doesn’t drive with two feet then the next likely issue is that the caliper or something else is malfunctioning causing the rear brakes to be engaged all (or most) of the time.
This is something that should be easy for a competent mechanic to locate and fix.
How To Tell If Front Or Rear Brakes Are Bad
If you are hearing squealing or grinding coming from your brakes it is pretty obvious that either the front or rear brake pads need to be changed but how can you tell which ones it is that have gone bad?
One easy way to tell which pads are worn is to have someone stand outside your vehicle while you brake and listen. You can also do this by simply rolling down your windows and see if the sound comes from the front or rear of the vehicle.
Another thing that you can do is simply look at the miles on the vehicle. Since front brakes wear out 60-75% faster than the rear brakes you can easily tell which pads need replaced. If you have under 100,000 miles on the vehicle it should be the front pads.
The last method is assuming that your vehicle’s brakes are wearing normally and that you (or the normal driver) don’t use two feet when driving which of course causes the rear brakes to wear out faster and in turn would make the mileage not matter.
Just guessing that it’s the front pads that are making the noise will actually turn out to be correct about ⅔ of the time as well so you have pretty good odds no matter which method you use.
can result in wheel shimmy and outright loss of control of the car or truck. You should never turn your wheels while applying your brakes hard, because it could make it difficult for you to steer and regain control of your vehicle.