Brake Pad Replacement Cost

We have written the brake pad replacement cost guide to inform you about all aspects regarding the maintenance of your cars brake system and to help you come to a informed decision about brake repair, replacement, inspection and general auto repair costs. In terms of Safety, the braking system is the most important part of your car and road safety. A properly maintained and working brake system can greatly increase your cars ability to come to a complete stop quickly and safely. The effectiveness of your brake system depends primarily on the quality of the components used as well as the workmanship applied when installing them. There is no excuse for neglecting to regularly perform a brake inspection, especially when a free brake check is available at many high street garages.

Brake Pad Replacement Cost
Car Brake System

About Car Brakes

In the late 1960’s car braking components and mechanisms were considerably improved. The old style drum brakes were replaced with a new system based around disks and pads. These later type of brakes are based on converting the kinetic energy of the wheel into heat. The primary braking component are the pads which are covered in frictional material. When the driver applies the brakes, the pads come into contact with the rotors or disks and the friction causes the car wheels to slow down and eventually stop. The frictional material wears down over time depending on how much the brakes are used and how hard they’re applied.

When to change brake pads

For semi-metallic pads – manufacturers generally state that brake pads should last you between 30,000 to 70,000.

Brake pad materials wears down over time. The wear becomes significant when the braking performance is diminished making your driving less safe. Modern cars come equipped with an indicator that makes a squeaking sound when the frictional material of the brake pads have run low. When you hear your brakes squeaking, that is a sure sign that you need new brake pads. A lot of modern cars actually have a metal tab that instead of squeaking, completes a electrical circuit in order to turn on a warning light on the dashboard. If you are still in doubt you can find out the state of your pads by removing the tyres and performing a visual inspection. A good rule to follow is replace the brake pads if the thickness is less than 3/16th of an inch. If you are not confident to do this you can get a free brake inspection at your local garage but beware they are primarily after your custom.

Factors of Brake Wear and Tear

Brake pads suffer from wear and tear as they are used and as your mileage increases. There are a number of factors that determine wear rate that your brake pads endure.

The main factor is the type of material your brake pads are made of and their overall quality. Poorer quality pads wear out quicker. Semi-metallic and ceramic pads last the longest but they have a shorter stopping distance.

Driving Style

Brake Pad Replacement Cost
Brake Pads

Another big factor is driving style and how you use your brakes. You can save a lot of wear and tear by driving more efficiently. Plan ahead, if you know you’re going to need to slow down in the near future then lift your foot of the accelerator and gradually slow down instead of braking harshly. When driving down hill, instead of keeping your foot on the brake to top acceleration you can utilize engine braking by  dropping down to a lower gear letting the engine retarding forces to slow the car down.

  • Manual Transmission – The ability to down-shift and use engine braking saves wear on the brakes
  • Type of car – Sports cars and heavier cars use up brake pads quicker
  • Driving style – Driving faster and aggressively will use up your pads quicker
  • Geographical location – If you live in mountainous or hilly areas you will utilize your brakes more, wearing them out.

How Much to Change Brake Pads

The cost of replacing a single brake pad is averaging at between $150 to $250 per axle however this is highly dependent on the quality of parts used as well as the labor cost for your chosen garage. There may be other components of the braking system that might need servicing or replacing as well such as rotors or brake calipers so bear that in mind when asking for quotes on the phone.  The most commonly required service though, is indeed just replacing the brake pads as they are pads that do eventually wear down because of the friction in the braking process.  A good set of calipers and rotors should see a few sets of pads throughout their lifetime.

The cheapest is not always the wisest choice as it may cost you overall more if you have the vehicle longer than a year. Places such as Mr Tire offer great value for money as well as offering a ‘free brake pads for a year’ warranty. We suggest that if you’re going to take the time to replace your bake pads then you should think about spending extra and getting ceramic or semi-metallic brake pads which have better performance and a longer life.

Tip: You can save a lot of money if you know how to replace your brake pads by yourself.

It is not easy finding the best deal but a good place to start is phoning around all of your local garages and asking them to quote you a price. There is a large difference in quality and cost of components used when servicing brakes and indeed all car servicing jobs.

Component Parts $ Labor $ Total $
Brake Pads $50 – $150 $100 $150 – $250
Rotors $200 – $400 $150 $350 – $550
Calipers $50 – $100 $100 $150 – $200

Estimating the Cost

Factors Affecting the brake pad replacement cost

  • Servicing your brakes yourself (DIY) or going to a dealership or independent mechanic
  • Make, model and year of your vehicle.
  • Quality and brand of the brake pads and parts used
  • Labor cost in your area (it is usually more expensive in large cities)

Doing it yourself or paying a mechanic

You can save a lot of money if you do the servicing yourself with bought components, however it does require some mechanical skill and knowledge. Replacement brake pads is relatively simple but changing the rotors can be quite challenging so you might want to pay for professional services for that. If you go the DIY route, you will need the necessary tools but they can be thought of an investment for life with regards to your whole car servicing.
TIP: This is a great video with in-depth instructions on how to change your brake pads.

Make, model and year of your vehicle

The type of car (brand and year) has a huge impact on brake, and all auto repair costs. Luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes will command a premium where as mainstream car brands have lower costs.

Average Brake Pad Replacement Cost in the United States is $150 per axle.

Quality of Parts

The main thing that will influence the brake pads cost is the quality of the components used in a service. This is especially the case regards the brake rotors and brake pads which can be very cheap if they are poor quality. Be warned though, poor quality is not a great deal and purchasing good quality components could last much longer saving you further future costs. We recommend, that, when inquiring on the phone – you ask about the brands of parts used.

Servicing/Repair Labor Costs

Labor costs are a major factor in brake servicing costs and highly depends on your location.
While paying someone to fix your brakes isn’t the most affordable option, having a professional handle this job is the best way to go for those that don’t possess the mechanical skills.
High Quality Brands:

  • Hawk
  • Wagner
  • NAPA
  • Bendex
  • Akebono
  • Motorcraft
  • Brembo
  • AC Delco

Brake Coupons

A number of nationwide auto repair shops are offering brake coupons that you can print out from their website. They offer special offers and discounts brake repair and general auto repair services.

What Should be Included in a Brake Service

It will greatly depend on your cars needs, however, the following is a typical services and procedures list that a complete repair job will include.

  • Diagnostic tests and test drive on the road to find the vehicles current driving performance.
  • Removing the wheels and inspecting and replacing any mounting clips, calipers, rotors, fluid, shims, links, pads and fluid as required.
  • Removing, cleaning and reinstalling rotors, calipers, hoses and bearings as required.

What are Brake Pads?

Brake pads are a key component of your cars braking system and arguably the single most important component in your car in terms of safety. Brake pads are basically the component that
contacts , applies friction and pressure to a cars brake rotors (the shiny disks). These pads can be made from a variety of materials including composite, hardened ceramics and semi-metallic.
Typically, the brake pad replacement cost is highly dependent on materials used. The more expensive composite and ceramic materials tend to last for the longest amount of miles, usage and they have the shortest stopping distance.  These premium brake pads can be up to three times the standard pad price.
If you do a lot of heavy breaking such as on larger vehicles or whilst towing then semi-metallic pads are recommended as ceramics are better suited for lighter sporty cars. The semi-metallics are mounted on steel plates which are bolted to the brake calliper making them very easy to replace. The pads are one of four main components that are utilized in the braking system but they are wearing thus requiring maintenance the most often. In order to fully understand the car braking system you must be familiar with the other three components that work together to stop the car.

What are Rotors?

Rotors are the disks that are connected to to the wheel. They have a smooth surface which is where the pad applies force in order to create friction and heat. You will know when your brake pads have worn down when you start hearing clicking noises and a high pitched screeching sound, The screeching is caused by a small metal shim that is designed as a brake pad wear indicator. Brake Rotors are quite expensive to replace so it is very important to replace your brake pads when they need it or your rotors will get scratched and damaged.

What are Calipers?

Calipers are the components used to hold the brake pads and push them against the surface of the rotor in order to slow the car down. Calipers work under hydraulic pressure. Pressing the brake pedal makes the brake fluid travel from the master cylinder to the proportioning value. If the car is equipped with ABS then the fluid fluid travels through the ABS control unit and then onto the brake calipers via the brake lines. The final part of the process is when the hydraulic pressure from the fluid pushes one or more cylinders inside the caliper which pushes the brake pads onto the brake rotor. In a fully functioning and well serviced system the force applied to the brake pedal will be equal to the pressure of the brake pads against the rotor.

Choosing the best mechanic

If you are not comfortable replacing your brake pads and wanting to pay a professional to do it, you will want to find a certified and reputable shop that offers good value brake repair and servicing within your budget.

Ask friends and family

It is a prudent idea to choose a shop that will provide you with a warranty. It is also a good idea to choose a shop with a good reputation and a visible list of online reviews from satisfied customers. Consider asking family and friends and ask them for recommendations of a mechanic they have use previously.
If you cannot find a good mechanic recommended by friends or family you can try using one of the shop locators provided by ASE to find a good certified mechanic. Phone a number of shops in your area and arrange to take your car in to get a free brake inspection then a follow on quote for the servicing or repairs you need. When speaking with the auto repair shop, don’t let them know your other quotes you have received. This is a good method of finding a good, honest and reputable mechanic.

Good Luck

We hope you enjoy our brake pad replacement cost guide and have used the information provided to find a great deal on servicing your cars brake pads! Please let us know how you get on in the comments section below!

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