What To Do With Old Brake Pads? 

Brake maintenance and repair is perhaps the most important thing that you need to do as a car owner. But what to do with old brake pads when you are done? Are there some innovative ways to use them elsewhere? Let’s find out.

Driving with old brake pads can result in unsafe driving conditions. Ensuring your car’s brakes work properly and making sure that any worn-out parts such as old brake pads are replaced ensures the safety of your vehicle in the long run. 

However, when you get your brake pads replaced, you will end up with a little bit of old brake fluid, and some leftover bits of old brake parts. It is obvious to wonder what one can do with these things. 

At the same time, brake pads have been known to contain asbestos. Asbestos is a hazardous material that can cause cancer and other problems. There are specific norms for hazardous waste disposal of such brake pads. 

This article talks about replacing old brake pads and what things one can do with used brake pads, rotors, and calipers. 


What To Do With Old Brake Pads


Why Do Brake Pads Wear Out?

Every time a vehicle’s brakes are engaged, the resulting friction causes your brakes to wear off just a little more. It is natural for the brake to thin out as you use your brakes more and more. Hence, these pads need to be replaced before the friction material is worn off entirely. 

You need to make sure that you do this long before the entire thing wears out. If that happens, the steel parts of the brakes will come in direct contact with the disc and this will cause a lot of damage to them. In some cases, your brakes will stop working entirely. 


You might like to read: What Are Disc Brakes Made Of?


Should I Keep Old Brake Pads?

Wondering what to do with old brake pads? When one replaces their brake pads, they are left with brake fluid and old brake parts. Disposing of these brake parts is not as easy as it may sound. 

Is it safe to throw away old brake parts? 

You need to check for hazardous material in your brake pads before throwing them away.


The Office of Technical Assistance and Technology outlines that a substance listed by the EPA or MassDEP is classified as a hazardous waste or if it possesses the characteristics of one.

Brake pads may contain asbestos or have a high content of heavy metals such as copper, mercury, chromium, and cadmium. 

The U.S. DOT and EPA regulate asbestos. The National Cancer Institute says that asbestos exposure may cause lung cancers, larynx, ovary, and mesotheliomas(cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen). 

The Department of Toxic Substances Control has been continually working on rolling out statutory and regulatory milestones concerning brake pads. The Motor Vehicles Brake Friction Materials Law was adopted in 2010. 


What To Do With Old Brake Pads


Starting January 1, 2021, the law makes it compulsory for brake pads sold in California to be certified by a testing certification agency and marked by the manufacturer as compliant with certain restrictions that regulate the quantity in the percentage of heavy metals asbestiform fibers in brake pads. 

By Jan 2021, all friction materials with more than 5% copper are no longer to be sold and by Jan 2025, friction material that has more than 0.5% copper will no longer be allowed to be sold. The DTSC is responsible for maintaining this statute. 

Consumers, on their part, can check for labels such as ‘asbestos free’, and ‘low-copper content’ while getting their brake pads replaced. 

One may also talk to the automotive store or their car mechanic if they have other composite alternatives which are less hazardous to the environment. 


You might like to read: What Size Bolt To Remove Silverado Brake Rotor?


Can You Reuse Used Brake Pads?

It is advisable to not indulge in reusing brake pads on their own until one is fully aware that they are non-hazardous. 

How Do You Destroy Brake Pads?

The best way is to simply recycle them.


How do I dispose of waste that contains asbestos? The United States Environmental Protection Agency emphatically mentions that professional automotive technicians and their waste haulers must dispose of asbestos waste per Federal and local regulations. 

Before waste containers with clutch and brake dust are collected, one must seal them. These containers must be impermeable and should be appropriately labeled. The rules mentioned above do not apply to home mechanics. 

Even the wet rags used to wipe off clutch dust, and brake dust must be disposed of according to these guidelines. One can get additional information on the OSHA website or call EPA’s helpline. 


What To Do With Old Brake Pads


Alternatively, one can reach out to their local waste management company to understand their policy regarding asbestos waste. An article published in Nature mentions that the friction materials on brake pads are non-degradable, making their disposal difficult. 

Current methods of dealing with used brake pads include landfill and combustion. However, this adds to the carbon footprint and results in a massive waste of resources. 

Research also indicates that when you recycle your brake pads, the amount of energy consumed and greenhouse gasses emitted is 36% and 34% lower respectively. So, it is best to recycle your brake pads.  

What Can You Do With Old Brake Rotors?

If you get your brake rotors replaced by a mechanic, they are likely to offer the option of recycling them for you. 

However, if you do it on your own- the most sustainable approach to deal with your used brake rotors would be to take them to a junkyard that recycles scrap metal. 

This is better than simply throwing them away, likely letting the rotors end up in a landfill. Plus, you can get a few dollars too. 


You might like to read: What Happens When You Run Out Of Brake Fluid?


What To Do With Old Brake Calipers?

Brake calipers will wear out as they turn old. One should remove it if your brake caliper is in a reusable condition. You may consider reaching out to auto shops such as Firestone or a brake shop or junkyard. 

They may be willing to exchange old brake calipers for a certain percentage of their monetary value. The simplest thing would be to pop off their pistons and maintain them as spares. 


What To Do With Old Brake Pads


A Few Final Words

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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