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I bought my car in February 2013 with 49K miles. It now has 61K miles on it and my brakes are starting to squeak very gently, until I apply more pressure on the brake pedal.

When I bought the car, I foolishly didn't ask for any service / maintenance records, so I have no idea how old anything is. I'm assuming everything is the original OEM hardware when the car was first purchased. The rotors are pretty rusted around the hats. I know the general consensus is to replace the rotors along with the pads, or at least to have them resurfaced, but what about the calipers?

I've never actually had to replace the brake pads on either of my previous cars, so I really don't know much about the experience...

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Calipers and brake pads are not the same thing, so the end of your question is a bit confusing. You don't need to do anything with your calipers unless there is something mechanically wrong with them. Your brake pads are a wearable item and may need replacing if they're wearing out. –  Ellesedil Jul 9 at 15:01
    
@Ellesedil Well, I know they're not the same thing, I just assumed that at some point I'd need to replace them. –  sab669 Jul 10 at 19:20

3 Answers 3

The noise you are hearing is more than likely the squealer on the brake pads. The squealer is a little metal tab which is incorporated into the brake pad. When they wear down "so much", it starts riding upon the rotor, which causes it to squeal. When you step on the brake, it will stop making noise (until the brake pad is so thin it will start grinding on the rotor and making noise). With ~61k on them, this sounds reasonable, depending on the driving habits of yourself and the previous owner. Your idea to change the rotor and pads is spot on. As cheap as rotors are these days, replacing them only costs a little more than turning (resurfacing) them. You can inspect the pads to see how much meat is left on them. If they look thin, this is definitely the issue.

As for the calipers ... if they are still working (not seized) and not leaking, you don't replace them. They will usually last for a good long while (a couple hundred thousand miles or more).

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Ah, I didn't realize they can last for basically forever. My roommate recently took his car to have his brakes done and they told him he needed new pads, rotors and the calipers. Think they wanted like $1400 or something, so he went elsewhere and just did the pads and rotors at their recommendation. –  sab669 Jul 10 at 19:28
    
@sab669 ... You can usually expect calipers to last the life of the car, unless you are talking cars which get ultimate mileage. But, yes, they usually last a long time. –  Paulster2 Jul 10 at 22:23

Brake pads last longer if you drive slow and brake gently or wear out quickly if you drive like Dominic Toretto. So it's dificult to give you a hard and fast rule regarding mileage. If you hear a squeal from your brakes, it means that the friction surface on the pads are too thin. You could probably drive another 1000 to 2000 miles with them in that condition if you're broke or in the middle of the desert (for some reason). But There is a tiny piece of metal on the brake pad which causes the squeal to tell you that you need to change them soon. It's a safety feature like your fuel light. It starts warning you that your running low on fuel, or friction surface, as the case may be.

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If your disks have started to develop new or deep circular scratches its time you change the pads. Try to feel the disk and you'll know if it really needs a change. Don't compromise on safety.

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