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How Much Does a Brake Job Cost? [Guide]

Written by: Colleen Chassie
A close-up image of a mechanic's hands installing a brake caliper onto the disc brake assembly of a vehicle. The mechanic is wearing a grey uniform and is working within the wheel well, illustrating a car maintenance or repair scene.

How Much Does a Brake Job Cost?

It can be hard to estimate vehicle repair and replacement costs, but it’s important to regularly maintain and occasionally replace certain car parts. This is especially true for brakes. Ignoring warning signs of brake wear can lead to further damage and costs, in addition to becoming a potential safety hazard. To help you pay attention to potential warning signs and make any necessary repairs, here is a quick overview of brake repair.

Brake System Components & Parts
Factors That Affect Brake Job Frequency
8 Signs Your Brakes Need Attention
Brake Repair vs. Brake Replacement
How Much Does It Cost to Repair or Replace Brakes?
The Brake Replacement & Repair Process
How to Save Money on Brake Repairs & Replacement
Service Your Brakes with VIP Auto
FAQs About Brake Job & Replacement Costs

Brake System Components & Parts

Generally speaking, all vehicles have the same basic components in their brake systems:

Master Cylinder: Pushes hydraulic fluid from brake fluid reservoir into brake lines

  • Drum Brake: A type of vehicle brake in which brake shoes press against the inside of a drum on the wheel; most commonly found in larger vehicles or trailers
  • Disc Brake: A type of vehicle brake that uses the friction of pads against a disc  connected to the wheel
  • Brake Rotor: Disc inside the brake pads that puts friction on the wheel to stop it from turning
  • Brake Shoe: An alternative to brake pads in a drum brake system
  • Brake Drum: Brake drum houses the brake that shoe presses outward to cause friction to stop the wheel from turning
  • Brake Pad: Enables your vehicle to slow down or stop by squeezing together onto the rotor disk
  • Brake Caliper: Provides force that pushes the brake pad into the rotor

  • Brake Pedal: A pedal that the driver pushes on to slow down the vehicle
  • Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS): Helps prevent the wheel from locking during heavy braking
  • Brake Lines: Deliver the hydraulic brake fluid that powers the calipers that press on the brake rotors to slow or stop the car

Factors That Affect Brake Job Frequency

There are a number of factors that can affect how frequently your vehicle requires a new brake job:

  • Environment: The environment in which you keep and drive your car will directly impact how quickly your brakes wear. If you live in a particularly snowy/icy climate, your brakes will come into more direct contact with road salt, leading to rust and more frequent brake jobs. Other environmental conditions such dirt, grease, and even rain can also lead to your brakes deteriorating faster and/or requiring replacement and repair.
  • Driving habits: How you drive will also impact how often you need brake repair. Frequent or hard braking, hauling heavy loads or trailers, and putting off regular brake repairs can lead to faster brake wear and tear.

  • Brake Pad Material: Not all brake pads are created equal. The four most common brake pad types — organic, semi-metallic, low-metallic, and ceramic — have different wear thresholds. Brake pads made of organic materials tend to wear faster, while ceramic tend to last longer, but cost more. Discuss the options with your brake technician to find the best option for your timeline and budget.

8 Signs Your Brakes Need Attention

The best way to ensure your braking system is in good condition is by being a vigilant and knowledgeable car owner. When driving, be on the lookout for the following signs your brakes might need repair:

  • Strange noises or high-pitched squeaking when braking
  • Taking longer to stop than usual
  • Steering wheel shakes in your hands when coming to a stop
  • Unusual shimmying, shaking, or shuddering when you apply the brakes
  • Uneven pulling to one side
  • Squealing or scraping noise when reversing
  • Needing to pump the pedal to get better stopping power
  • Indicator lights turn on

Brake Repair Job vs. Brake Replacement

It can be tempting, cost-wise, to make minor repairs to your braking system in an attempt to put off a full replacement.  While brake repairs will save you a few dollars in the short term, you will likely run into issues in the long run. Brake replacement is the recommended course of action, as it ensures that the rotors and pads wear evenly and that the old rotor does not prematurely wear the pads.

If cost is a concern, a short-term fix could be to replace just the brake pads if the rotors are in decent shape. Always turn to a trusted brake repair professional to ensure your parts are properly inspected before performing any work.

 

How Much Does It Cost to Repair or Replace Brakes?

The cost of brake repair or replacement will vary depending on the vehicle make and model, part manufacturer, materials, labor, and more. When it comes to repair compared to replacement costs, the difference is negligible, so replacement is recommended to give you warranty protection and ensure a more complete fix.

Generally* speaking, the varying cost for a brake job are as follows:

  • Brake Parts: $35–$150 per part
  • Brake Repair Labor: $80–$160 per hour
  • Total Brake Pad Replacement: $150–$300 per axle
  • Total Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement: $400–$600 per axle

*These prices are typical ranges, for more accuracy, be sure to get an estimate, as the quality of brake parts, shop labor pricing, and more can change the price.

The Brake Replacement Process

It’s always a good idea to trust your next brake repair job to a professional automotive technician. They have the expertise and tools to properly diagnose and repair any brake issues you might have and can get you back on the road quickly and safely.

When you do bring your vehicle in for brake repair/replacement, they will first inspect your vehicle to determine what work is needed. Some technicians will even bring you into the garage to show you the worn brake pads and rotors to help you better understand what work is required — this is the mark of a high-quality repair shop. Once the inspection is complete, and you have an agreement in place, brake repair is a fairly straightforward process:

  • First, the technician will remove and properly dispose of worn brake pads and/or rotors.
  • Second, the technician will install new rotors and brake pads. The engine should be started and the brake pedal pumped a few times until it feels firm.
  • Last, the technician will assess completed brake housing to ensure a proper fix before they return the vehicle.

 

How to Save Money on Brake Repairs & Replacement

It may seem like doing your own brake repair or replacement is the most affordable option, but brakes are such an integral part of your vehicle that a DIY brake repair can actually cost you more in the long run.Not to mention the fact that having reliable brakes is of the utmost importance for safety on the road.

So, why shouldn’t you do your own brake repair?

  • Brake repair is complicated and should only be handled by professionals
  • Brake repair often requires specialized tools Incorrect installation or repair can cause more damage

The good news is that high-quality, professional brake repair doesn’t have to be expensive, and there are steps you can take to save on the cost of your next brake job:

  1. Do your research. Shop around and compare prices for parts, labor, and son. It’s also important to know that cheaper isn’t always better, as cheaper parts might mean more frequent repairs or replacement.
  2. Look up customer reviews. A quick Google search should give you a comprehensive list of customer reviews for a particular repair shop. Search through these reviews for information on others’ experiences to help you decide if you want to do business with a particular shop.
  3. Use your network. Your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors have all likely needed brake replacement at some point, so finding out who they trust for their auto repair is a great idea. You know you already trust their judgment, and they may have recommendations you hadn’t considered yet.
  4. Prevention is the best medicine. Proper vehicle maintenance can be a great way to prolong the life of your brakes and reduce your need for brake replacement. For example, brake lines can become corroded quicker if you don’t wash the underside of your vehicle after winter storms, as the chemicals and salt will eat away at the frame and components. By washing your car after storms, you’re protecting your brakes and, ultimately, your investment.

Service Your Brakes with VIP Auto


VIP Tires and Service is the place to turn for all of your brake repairs and replacements. We offer free brake inspections, so you can know the state of your brakes and understand the work required first thing. At VIP, we stock top-quality brake parts at the lowest prices, and all brake work is performed by our team of ASE-Certified technicians in one of our convenient automotive service centers. Call VIP today to schedule your next brake repair job.

 

FAQs About Brake Job & Replacement Costs

 

How long does a brake job take?

  • On average, brake repair will take between three and five hours, depending on the state of the parts being replaced and the brake housing. This will, of course, vary depending on the technician and the other repairs on their schedule that day.

Does a brake replacement or repair cost more money?

  • Short term, a repair will likely save you a few dollars, but you will ultimately have to perform a brake replacement sooner, which will cost you more in the long run. Since the cost difference is so small, the experts at VIP Auto recommend that you opt for a brake replacement to give you warranty protection.

Do I need to get all of my brakes replaced at once?

  • No, but it’s recommended to replace both of the brakes on whichever axle needs them at the same time, but typically they don’t wear out all at once. You should only replace your brakes when they’re worn out, rusted, warped or if necessary.

How often should I get my brake pads replaced?

  • Brake pads usually need to be replaced every 10,000 to 20,000 miles. It’s also important to replace your rotors too, but less frequently. Rotors can be replaced every 50,000 to 70,000 miles.

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