It’s safe to say that the brake system is one of the most serviced systems in your vehicle. Between regular adjustments, periodic inspections, Brake Fluid Flushes (yes this is a real thing), and pad replacement the average driver can expect to be performing some type of maintenance or inspection on their Brakes about once per year. With that said, one of the most asked questions is “When should I get new brakes?”. The next question is “How much for new brakes?”. Today I’m going to take a few minutes to address both of those questions so that you have a better
understanding of what’s involved and why.
“How do I know if I need a brake job?”
A lot of new cars come with a Brake Pad Wear Sensor. This is a sensor that is located inside the brake pad that gets cut when the brakes wear down causing the wear light to come on. When the light comes on, you’re ready for brakes. Simple! The most common way to know you are due for a Brake Job is during periodic inspections. These inspections are performed regularly when you come in for normal Scheduled Maintenance. Aside from simply changing the oil and filter we perform a visual inspection of roughly 55 key areas on your vehicle. From here we can tell you pretty decisively what will need to be replaced and more importantly, when.
“How much for a brake job?”
When the brake pads wear down most cars simply need Brake Pads (or Brake Shoes, read more about this here) and to either machine the Brake Rotors (shave them down just a little to get a nice clean and true surface for the Brake Pad to contact when stopping) or replace them. When everything is being replaced there are a few other things that go into ensuring that the brakes will function as designed for many years to come that are generally overlooked when someone replaces brakes on their own or at a place advertising an “$89 Lifetime Brake Job”…..
The thing that’s most commonly overlooked is part quality. Yes, you can probably get brake pads for your Mercedes for $29, but when they literally fall apart or fail in a few weeks or months you’ll be replacing them again and again and again. We only use top quality parts. If I wouldn’t use it on my car I’m not putting it on your car, there’s really no other way to say it.
The second most overlooked part to a Brake Job is actually one of the most simple pieces and we see it every single day. It’s lack of lubrication on the contact points (not to be confused with friction contact points). Friction Contact points are where the Brake Pad contacts the rotor. The brakes create friction so you don’t want any lubrication there. Contact points are anywhere that the Brake Pad touches the caliper or the bracket where the pad sits. The brake pads are constantly moving when braking, sliding back and forth (good movement). Without proper lubrication the pads will eventually stick in the bracket and when you release the brake pedal the pads stay rubbing on the rotor. This causes the brakes to wear out sooner, pulsate, or make noise. You also want to have all of the slides that go into the caliper bracket removed, cleaned, and lubricated. We do all of this during every single brake job as well as a bunch of other things so that you don’t have to worry about any issues until you need your next set in 30-40,000+ miles.
Price for brakes
A few months back a woman called for the first time. She said her regular mechanic didn’t have the “right tools” to do her front brake job (literally any basic set of tools has about everything you need). I asked her what she was told needed to be replaced so I could properly quote the job. She told me that the brakes aren’t making noise, need to be replaced soon, and pads and rotors will suffice. She also said that her regular mechanic had been properly servicing and inspecting the vehicle regularly. I explained the importance of properly inspecting the brake system so we could be sure the price we give includes each and every single thing she will need to make sure that everything that needs to be replaced gets replaced. She insisted that she only needed “Pads and Rotors” then began to get pretty upset that I wouldn’t just give her a price. Since I didn’t know the exact brake system on the vehicle (there were 3 choices for this vehicle), I gave her a general quote of “$350-$500 if it’s just pads and rotors” then stressed the purpose of the brake inspection again. Big mistake!!
She scheduled the appointment based on the price that I gave her. When she came in the next day we saw that the brakes not only had been grinding for quite a while (months at minimum, take a look for yourself) but the calipers were also damaged beyond repair because she wore completely through the brake pads and the only thing stopping her were the caliper pistons pressing on the rotors (You can see from the pictures that they’re completely destroyed). Since there was no brake fluid in the system there was also no brake pedal, when you pushed it with your foot it just went to the floor. The car had to be stopped with the emergency brake. Her rear brakes were also grinding. In short she needed both Front Calipers, Front Brake Pads, Front Brake Rotors, Rear Brake Pads, and Rear Brake Rotors. Then the entire system needed to be purged of any air (bled). So I explained it to her and showed her. Clearly since the scope of work changed significantly, the price was going to change. More parts + more time = more money than we initially quoted. We would have known all of this if we inspected the brakes before quoting. Well she wasn’t happy….
This story doesn’t have a happy ending although it is slightly comical. She demanded that we fix the brake system within the quote I gave her. When I said that wasn’t possible she got very upset (this is an understatement). She ended up screaming that I must be a “Trump supporter” and accused me of trying to ruin her family’s Christmas because we wouldn’t fix her car. Then she took to social media (using our WiFi) to tell everyone how horrible we are and how our staff broke her car because it was “perfect” when she brought it in.
So this was the last time we ever gave a price for brakes without first seeing the vehicle.
I don’t know about you but if I have to pay for a brake job I don’t want to find out the hard way that the one time I need to stop quickly when going 60 mph that I should have paid an extra $40 – $50 to get my brakes done properly by someone that knows what they’re doing.
If you have a brake issue and want us to check it out for you, we would love the opportunity. Simply schedule an appointment by giving us a call 413.363.0306 or feel free to schedule online 24/7.
You want it done right then you go to Precision. I have 4 vehicles I use for my electrical contracting company and each of them have never seen a dealer except for the day I bought them. If my vehicles are down then I can’t do my job. The people at Precision understand that. Top notch service from James and the guys over there for all of the 9 years I’ve been using their service.