Car repairs can be stressful and expensive, especially when dealing with brake repairs, which are among the most scam-prone tasks in the automotive industry. However, even legitimate brake repairs can be more costly than necessary due to driver neglect. Don’t let yourself get taken advantage of – choose a trustworthy mechanic and stay proactive about maintaining your vehicle.
Given the critical importance of your braking system to the overall safety of driving your vehicle—Toyota drives this point home for all of us—you can’t take any chances by letting needed brake repairs go unaddressed for any length of time. Whether you think you need immediate service for your vehicle’s braking system or you’re trying to avoid higher costs down the road, here’s what you need to know to stop paying too much for brake service.
Brake Service Prevention
The best to reduce the cost of brake service is to avoid the need for service altogether. For most people, it’s no surprise that how you drive your vehicle will have a considerable influence on its future repair needs and maintenance schedule. As tempting as it is for some drivers, you need to refrain from riding your brakes.
Riding your brakes, even lightly, not only irritates the driver behind you and creates a safety hazard, but it also generates significant friction and heat that can quickly build up over time. To avoid this, cover the brake and use it more forcefully when needed. Additionally, when driving down a steep hill, downshifting is also recommended (if the road is dry and provides sufficient traction). Remember to stay alert and drive safely to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your brakes.
Common Brake Service Scams
By far, the most common brake scam involves a mechanic insisting that you need to replace more expensive brake rotors when only the brake pads need to be replaced. What’s so frustrating about this scam is that the rotors can become damaged, and unless you know your stuff, you probably won’t have the confidence to stand up to the mechanic. To make matters worse, some rotors aren’t made to the same quality as they used to be, frequently leading to more expensive repairs.
On the other hand, brake pads have better, as many new pads now use a material with greater resistance to wear. Unfortunately, this harder material is more susceptible to squeaking and whining even when it’s still performing adequately. Possibly, the dust has gotten into the brake assembly and needs only to be sprayed with a brake cleaner. This naturally opens the door for a new type of scam in which a mechanic merely cleans the brake pads and claims to have replaced them.
To prevent brake repair scams and ensure you’re getting a fair price for your repairs, there are several steps you can take. Educating yourself about your vehicle’s braking system, learning industry terms, and understanding the difference between brake pads and rotors are all good starting points. However, the most reliable way to avoid scams is to take your vehicle to a trusted and honest mechanic. If you’re unsure about a new mechanic, consider taking your vehicle to multiple repair shops for second opinions. Always prioritize safety and be proactive about maintaining your vehicle to avoid unnecessary repairs.
But few people have the spare time to commit to these solutions. More realistically, besides doing your best to find an honest mechanic, the single most important thing you can do is to take your car in for service as soon as you notice any sounds or other signs of trouble. Alternately, you may just want to have your brake pads looked at once every six months to guarantee you catch problems before they manifest into more costly repairs.
Brake Service Costs
Needless to say, brake service costs can range all over, but for the most part, minor brake work (replacing the pads, resurfacing rotors) will run somewhere in the neighborhood of $100-$250. More significant brake work (replacing the rotors) might cost anywhere from $250-$500, depending on the car and the quality of the brake assembly. For major brake work on a new and/or high-performance vehicle, repair costs can approach $1,000.
Find Local, Reliable Brake Service or Auto Repair Shop
Along with word-of-mouth, the most reliable way to find an auto repair shop to work on your brake system is with an online referral service, like Kelley Blue Book. But like anything else, not all online referrals are created equal. Every professional in Kelley Blue Book database is put through a rigorous screening process that includes a background check, basic industry certifications, and positive customer feedback.
It takes only a minute of your time to submit an online request. Ideally, there will be several viable auto repair shops in your area, allowing you to comparison shop from the comfort of your own home, rather than making multiple, time-consuming trips in a vehicle experiencing brake problems.