brake pad cost guide

We have written the “brake pad replacement cost” guide to inform you about all aspects regarding the maintenance of your car’s brake system. This guide will also help you come to an informed decision about brake pads cost, brake repair, replacement, inspection and general auto repair costs. A complete overhaul of a single wheels braking system can cost from $300 – $800 dependent on the car, and components used.

Regarding Safety, the braking system is the most important part of your vehicle and road safety. A properly maintained and working brake system can significantly increase your car’s 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 quality of the installation. 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.

About This Brake Replacement Pad Cost Guide

Getting your car serviced or taking it in for repair can be a daunting task for any car owners, especially those that are not tech savvy or in the know relating to such things. Many of us lead busy lives with high paced careers and even children to take care of so we cannot be spending time researching in-depth about such small things like brake pads.

Of all the components that make up a car, one of the most important components to take care of are the brakes. They are vital to you and your family’s safety as well as the safety of the general public. You must have well-maintained brake pads, and they must be installed correctly by a trained professional.

This guide aims to give you the best information in a concise and easy to digest form. We will give you a basic overview of brake pads and their relating components as well as the pro’s and cons of the types of material used as well as the rough budget estimates.

Federal Government Guidelines on Car Brakes

For brakes installed in new cars, the federal government has set quality standards; however, they do not have standards for replacement brake pads. Another key thing to note is most of the complaints sent to the NHTSA are relating to brakes. This should make it obvious the importance of getting the job done correctly and with the right parts.

About Car Brakes and their Importance

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 is the pads which are covered in frictional material. When the driver applies the brakes, the pads come into contact with the rotors or discs 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 are applied.

brake pad replacement cost

When to change brake pads

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

Brake pad materials wear 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.

Warning Signs of Brake Wear

When you hear your brakes squeaking, that is a sure sign that you need new brake pads. A lot of modern cars have a metal tab that instead of squeaking, completes an electrical circuit 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 tires and performing a visual inspection. A good rule to follow is to 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.

Be aware of other symptoms of brake wear

  • Grinding or squeaking sounds.
  • High pitch sounds coming from the axles.
  • The need to press harder than usual on the braking pedal.
  • Dark fluid is leaking on the driveway.
  • Losing control of the vehicle when pressing the brakes.
  • Display of ABS or other caution lights on the dashboard.

Factors of Brake Wear and Tear

Brake pads suffer from wear and tear as they are used and as your mileage increases. Many factors 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

cheapest brake pads

Another significant 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 are going to need to slow down shortly then lift your foot off the accelerator and gradually slow down instead of braking harshly.

When driving down a hill, instead of keeping your foot on the brake to stop acceleration, you can utilize engine braking by dropping down to a lower gear letting the engine retarding forces to slow the car down.

Some other factors:

  • Manual Transmission – The ability to downshift 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 Are Brake Pads? – Brake Pad Cost

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 Brake Pads Are Not Always The Best

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 providing a ‘free brake pads for a year’ warranty. We suggest that if you are going to take the time to replace your brake 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 significant difference in quality and cost of components used when servicing brakes, and indeed, all car servicing jobs.
estimating the brake pad cost

Average Cost of Brake Replacement

As we will discuss later in this article – There is a high degree of variation when it comes to the cost of replacing your brake pads. Simply put, it depends on parts used and their quality, brand of these parts and the cost of labor.

Brake Pads

ItemPrice Range
Set of 4 Brake Pads$30 - $150
Labor Fees$80 - $120
Total$90 - $300 per axle

As you can see from this small table, the average cost to get your brake pads replaced by a trained mechanic is $90 – $300 (per axle). As previously mentioned, This depends greatly on the quality of the pads used as well as the mechanic’s labor fees.

Replace Pads by the Axle

You should always replace pads by the axle. If your front left pad is worn down, then the whole axle of pads should be replaced. Replacing brake pads on an axle basis ensures that the new pads will wear down at an equal rate. If you replace only a single pad on an axle, then the two brake pads will be at different levels of wear, and you might experience the car pulling to the left or the right when you brake.

Different Rates of Wear Might Indicate a Problem

If you are noticing the differing rate of wear on an axle, then that might indicate another problem. You should investigate differing wear rates. If you are just looking for the brake pad replacement cost, then you do not need to go further.

Brake Rotors & Pads

Parts and ServicePrice Range
Pads$35 - $140
Rotors$30 - $70
Labor Fees$150 - $200
Total (Per Axle)$230 - $500

Brake Rotor Cost

Your costs could end up running to well over $250 if your brake rotors need placing as well, this includes the pads as well. As a standalone part, rotors can range from $30 – $70 for standard models. High-performance rotors designed for sports cars can even exceed $100! As with most things auto related, the prices are dependent on brand, quality, and specifications.

OEM Parts

Typically OEM (manufacturer) parts are less costly and are less available – auto repair shops often stock a huge range of aftermarket parts whereas they would have to order in specific OEM parts for certain cars. Another significant advantage OEM parts have is that they usually come with a warranty.

Brake Calipers

Calipers Parts & ServicePrice Range
Parts (Per Wheel)$70 - $140
Labor$120 - $150
Total$190 - $310
The calipers are responsible for retracting and closing the brake pads and are very important so take notice of their state of wear and operation. If they fall into a state of disrepair, it can have the same effects worn down brake pads.

Calipers typically cost anywhere from $70 to $130 each for a mainstream brand and model. Calipers can cost from $100 to $30 per wheel if you own a prestigious or luxury car.

A complete overhaul of a single wheels braking system can cost from $300 – $800 dependent on car, and components used.

Conclusion & Full Replacement Service

As a guide – A complete replacement service for one wheel braking components will cost anywhere from $300 – $900. This includes the pads, rotors, calipers and the labor involved.

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 pad.
  • Labor cost in your area (it is usually more expensive in large cities).

Doing it yourself or paying a mechanic

You can save money if you do the servicing yourself with bought components; however, it does require some mechanical skill and knowledge. Replacing brake pads is relatively straightforward 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 complete car servicing.

We at recommend you pay a professional to get this job done. It is not something you can afford to make a mistake on or do a poor job as it can have disastrous consequences.

A complete overhaul of a single wheels braking system can cost from $300 – $800 dependent on car, and components used.

Make, model and year of your vehicle

The type of car (brand and year) has an impact on the brake, and all auto repair costs. Luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes will command a premium. Mainstream car brands have lower overall servicing 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. 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 is not the most affordable option, having a professional handle this job is the best way to go for those that do not possess the mechanical skills. If a mechanic appears too cheap to be true, then it usually is. Make sure to ask for any add-on or hidden costs involved such as VAT or other taxes.

High Quality Brands:

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

What People are Paying

We have collected some data from people that have written in or left comments regarding their experiences and what they have paid. This table is related to brake pad replacement only.

CarYearPrice of LaborTotal Price of PartsTotal
Mazda Protege2001$77$50$127
Jaguar Vanden2008$72$130$202
Scion xD2005$75$50$125
BMW X32004$75$100$175
 Jeep Patriot2011$75$50$125
Suzuki Vitara2004$120$48$168
BMW X62009$105$168$273
Ford F-350 Truck2005$82$54$136
Ford F-350 Truck2005$96$115$211

Want to submit your quotes? – leave a comment!

Brake Coupons

Some general 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. Brake coupons can go a long way to saving money, especially when you need a full brake replacement service performing. Many companies offer generic “auto repair” coupons that can offer money off all car 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 vehicle’s current operating performance.
  • Removing the wheels and inspecting and replacing any mounting clips, calipers, rotors, fluid, shims, links, pads and fluid as required.
  • Cleaning and reinstalling rotors, calipers, hoses and bearings as needed.

What are Brake Pads?

what are brake padsBrake pads are a vital component of your car’s braking system and arguably the single most important part in your vehicle regarding safety. Brake Pads are the component that contacts, applies friction and pressure to a car’s brake rotors (the shiny disks). Typically, brake pads are made from a variety of materials including composite, hardened ceramics and semi-metallic materials.

What type of brake pad material is best?

Typically, the brake pad replacement cost depends heavily 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 lots of heavy braking or towing than semi-metallic pads are recommended as ceramics are better suited for lighter sporty cars.

The semi-metallic ones are mounted on steel plates which are bolted to the brake caliper 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. To fully understand the car braking system, you must be familiar with the other three components that work together to stop the vehicle.

What are Rotors?

The disks that connect to the wheel are called Brake rotors. They have a smooth surface which is where the pad applies force to create friction and heat.

Brake Rotor Screeching & What is Means

You will know when your brake pads have worn down when you start hearing clicking noises and a high-pitched screeching sound. The screeching caused by a small metal shim is intentional as a brake pad wear indicator. Brake Rotors are quite expensive to replace so it is 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 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.

In ABS equipped cars, the fluid moves 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 to replace your brake pads

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. Finding one can be a long and painful process, but we have some great tips that can help!

Ask friends and family for brake repair advice

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 used 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 some auto repair shops in your area and arrange to take your car in to get a free brake inspection then a follow on a 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.

Walmart Auto Repaid & Maintenance Services

Some Walmart stores provide auto maintenance services, and often this includes a full brake service. More often than not they can only replace brake pads and rotors as well as the shoes. Other brake services included refilling the brake fluid and bleeding the brakes.

If you have a common make of car, then this could be a good cost-effective option, but if you have a sporty or high-end brand of car, then you probably would be best going to a specialist.

Good Luck

We hope you enjoy our “brake pad replacement cost” guide. We hope you 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. We also welcome personal stories and quotes that you have received so we can add it to our database of brake pad replacement quotes!
replacing car pads price