It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s time to replace the brakes on your SUV. Just like any other automotive component, the breaks are subject to wear and tear. Although the thought of having to shell out hundreds of dollars on a brake job can be stressful if your brakes have become incredibly worn it can be dangerous to drive. Brake job costs vary depending on a few different factors. It’s best to shop around so you can get the best price possible.
Brake Job Costs – Understanding Your Vehicle’s Braking System
It’s important to have basic knowledge of your vehicle’s braking system especially if you’re shopping around at different service centers for brake job costs. Knowing what the braking system consists of will give you a better understanding of what you’ll be paying for.
As you know the brakes are a very important safety feature. When you press down on the brake pedal it activates the cylinder that transmits brake fluid to the caliper which causes the brake pads to engage. The brake pad applies pressure on the friction which gives your car the friction it needs to come to a complete stop.
Yes, every part in the braking system works together to provide precise stopping power. Although each car’s braking system may slightly vary, they are all equipped with the same components. There are two main types of brake services; the brakes that bring your vehicle to a halt when you’re driving and the emergency and anti-lock brakes.
Brake Job Costs – Brake Inspection
Even if you believe that you don’t need to have your brake pads or rotors replaced it’s a good idea to have your vehicle’s braking system inspected. You should have a thorough inspection performed on your vehicle at least once a year.
During a brake inspection, every part is checked by a skilled technician. The technician will check for any potential problems and make the necessary repairs so that your brakes regain a clean bill of health. Regular brake inspections will ensure that they are in tip-top shape.
A standard brake inspection will check the;
- Brake pads
- Springs and adjusters
- Wheel cylinders
- Fluid levels
- Parking brake cables
- Master cylinder fluid exchange
The average cost of a brake inspection is between $80-100.
Brake Job Costs Rip Offs
Believe it or not, when it comes to brake job costs, rip offs happen quite often. Bait and switch ripoffs off are the most common. This occurs when service centers reel customers in with relatively cheap prices and then pressure the car owner into purchasing “better parts” which are often very expensive.
Another shady business tactic that service centers use is installing braking components that are in good condition and don’t need to be replaced. They do this so that they can charge you for the extra labor and parts. Knowing as much as you can about brake job costs can help prevent you from getting ripped off.
Brake Job Costs – Top Scams
While you may not have any direct experience with repairing cars you can still check your brake pads and rotors to see what condition they are in. Here are some of the most common ways that mechanics will try to exploit you when it comes to brake job costs and repair:
- Selling you brake calipers when you don't need them
Brake calipers are a major part of the caliper system. The caliper houses the brake pads, pistons and it's responsible for slowing down the wheels of the vehicle. Replacing the brake calipers can be very expensive. In fact, the average cost of a caliper replacement is about $300 per brake.
Oftentimes it isn’t the brake calipers that need to be replaced but the slide pins on the calibers which also have to be lubricated with a high-grade synthetic oil. Slide pins are only about twenty bucks. So if a technician tells you that your vehicle needs new brake calipers ask if they can fix the issue by repairing the slide pins.
In most cases, brake calipers can last for at least 150,000 miles. Usually, brake calipers can be reused. The following conditions don’t require new brake caliper installations:
- Corroded brackets on the calipers
- Torn caliper slide pins
- Uneven brake wear doesn’t always point to an issue within the brake caliper system Oftentimes uneven brake wear can be contributed to rust buildup
However, if they are leaking fluid or the pistons won’t retract then they’ll need to be rebuilt or replaced.
- Charging premium prices for generic brakes
A lot of mechanics and service centers charge sky high prices for generic brake pads and pass them off as premium brakes. These brakes will wear out rather quickly, eat up your rotors and increase your stopping distance. Next thing you know, you’ll be right back at the shop within a few months to have them replaced again.
Premium Brake Pads vs Generic Brake Pads
Premium brake pads are brand name products such as NRS and Brembo. Premium brake pads typically have their names written across the packaging while generic products are housed in plain white or yellow boxes. Besides the packaging, you can tell whether premium brakes or generic brake pads are being installed on your vehicle by the estimate you’re given.
Real premium brake pads are packaged with all the required hardware which includes; the shims, the anti-rattle clips, and abutment hardware. If your mechanic tells you that they are installing premium brakes but the brake job cost includes extra hardware, you’re being ripped off.
- Convincing you to invest in ceramic brake pads
To be honest, there are a lot of myths surrounding the benefits of ceramic brake pads. Some shops will try to upsell ceramic pads by claiming that it’s the best brake pad material on the market. Although ceramic brake pads are extremely quiet and last long they don’t absorb heat well during rigorous braking activity and they don’t perform well in the cold.
If you’re looking for higher quality brakes then you should consider purchasing semi-metallic brakes which are ideal for heavy hauling, stop and go driving. Semi-metallic brakes are cheaper than ceramic brake pads. On the other hand, Never let a mechanic upsell you a product without doing your research first to determine if it’s the best option for you.
- Buying inferior rotors at premium prices
The market is flooded with lower quality rotors that are sold at $10 a pop when purchased wholesale. Some service centers will purchase these inferior rotors and sell them at premium prices to their customers so that they can pocket the difference.
These generic rotors often weigh twenty percent less than their premium counterparts. To the untrained eye, generic rotors look the same as higher-quality rotors. When you place them side by size and analyze them closely you’ll be able to see the stark differences.
Generic metals are manufactured with less metal so they’ll be obviously thinner. Of course, the true test will be in how they perform. With less metal, generic rotors heat up faster, make more noise, and will wear out much faster. Even if you’re trying to save money on your brake job cost, purchasing higher-quality rotors will be the best investment you make.
How To Avoid Brake Job Cost Scams and Rip Offs
Tired of throwing your money down the drain? Here are five main ways you can avoid getting ripped off:
- Avoid service centers with low brake job cost
The average brake job cost is approximate $300-$800. You’ll typically get the higher range of the cost if you need brake pads and rotors on all four axles or if the brake caliper on your vehicle needs to be repaired. However, the brake job cost for luxury model cars can easily cost up to $1,000.
A mechanic won’t make any money by offering brake jobs for a hundred bucks unless they plan on using low-quality parts. Any service center advertising considerably low prices are doing so to attract more customers and reel them in with unnecessary upgrades.
- Avoid private label brake products
Why spend your money on inferior store brand brake pads and rotors when you can purchase from trusted brands for the same price. These private labelled products are designed to achieve higher profit margins for shops and stores.
- Purchase the parts yourself
A great way to avoid being scammed at shops is to buy your own brake pads, rotors, and any other parts that you might need. This can significantly reduce the brake job cost because you’ll only be paying for labor. Also, when you purchase the products yourself you don’t have to worry about being upsold inferior products at high prices.
When it comes to purchasing brakes independently you’ll want to do so from a reputable dealer or automotive parts store. Exercise caution when you are purchasing parts sold by online vendors.
- Shop around
Before you make a decision to leave your car at a particular shop you should shop around. Let a few different mechanics take a look at your vehicle and determine exactly how your braking system has been compromised. You may find that you really don’t need to replace the calipers or rotors.
Make sure you check a shop’s Better Business Bureau rating before you trust them with their vehicle. When you visit the Better Business Bureau website you can see how many customers have made complaints about the shop.
Reputable shops use high-quality brake products because it’s always bad for business if customers have to keep returning to the same issue. Call around to the shops in your area and ask what brand and quality of pads that they are using. If they are hesitant to provide an exact quote move on to the next one.
- Avoid chain service centers
Chain service centers tend to have high brake job costs. If you’re looking to get the brakes repaired on your vehicle for an affordable price you should definitely avoid such service centers since they overcharge for the simplest projects. You’ll get the best prices from independent shops.
Brake Job Costs – How to Save Money
No doubt, the question of the hour is how can you save more money on a brake job?
Make sure you get the right fit – The first step in reducing a brake job cost is to ensure that the job gets done the right the first time. If you decide to opt for cheaper, generic brake pads you’ll want to make sure your mechanic gets the right fit. Some generic brake pads don’t properly fit every vehicle and as a result, they’ll make excessive noise. In some cases, you may have to opt for factory brake pads that were specifically designed for the make and model of your vehicle.
Be sure to sign off on additional work – Make sure you make your sign off a requirement before you leave your car at a shop. When you do this the mechanic has to call you before they perform any extra work on your vehicle. Oftentimes, while working on your car the mechanic may discover another issue. Clarify that they should obtain authorization from you if the brake job cost changes.
Request an itemized bill – When it’s time to pick up your vehicle request an itemized bill that breaks down every part that was installed and all the labor that was performed. Carefully go through the bill before you make payment. If the final bill is far off from the original estimate, this is a problem. Check to make sure there aren't any trumped-up charges that aren’t related to what your car was serviced for.
Brake Job Cost – The Bottom Line
When it comes to brake job cost you should always make sure that you are making the right purchasing decisions. While the Federal Government has established rigorous standards for installing brakes on brand new vehicles there are no laws that regulate brake parts marketed by auto stores and automotive service centers. Therefore, it's up to consumers to protect themselves.