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Let's say you just bought a used Nissan Sentry. How often should you replace the brake pads? The answer is: it all depends on how you drive. If you "ride the brakes" (i.e., step on the gas, then use the brakes consistently to even out your speed), you could have to replace the front pads as often as every 5,000 miles. This isn't a great practice, by the way; it also puts tremendous strain on your car's brake system.
If your driving involves a lot of stopping and starting, like in small towns or busy highways with lots of traffic, you're looking at having to change front pads every 10,000 miles or so. Driving longer periods without needing to use the brakes -- on an open highway where you're really only braking for exit ramps, for example -- will lengthen the life of your brake pads.
Take note of your commute to gauge an average for your brake pad use. Also, consult your Nissan mechanic to find out what is "normal" wear-and-tear for your specific model's brake pads.