I Think I Need Brakes, Right?
You’re driving down the street and coming to a stop and hear a squeak or squeal. You know you need new brakes … right? So, you go to Google and search for a “brake shop” in your area, call them and ask how much to replace your brakes.
At this point, the first question someone should ask is, “When can you get it in so that we can perform a brake inspection?” Literally speaking, this is the only answer personnel at the shop can give you until they do an inspection.
And here’s why. Things like vehicle GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight), tire, rotor or drum size, 4-wheel disc, front disc and rear drum, floater rear differential, and even whether or not it is a European vehicle, all make a difference.
Unfortunately, most consumers can’t answer all the questions that need to be asked in order to give an estimate over the phone!
Beware of shops who say they can give you an estimate over the phone without having access to all these details because that can be a bait and switch tactic used in this industry for years. Such shops get you in on a low initial quote or estimate, take the car apart for the inspection and then suddenly the price doubles or more! Are you really going to take it out of the shop after it is all apart? In most cases, the answer is “no.”
So, what is a complete brake job?
Although there are exceptions, for the most part you want new brake pads as well as new rotors and brake sensors (if equipped). Some vehicles require cleaning and repacking the wheel bearings and replacing the bearing seals as well.
Steer clear of “machining” the rotors if possible. This removes material from the rotors to “true” them, making them thinner and generally causing pulsation from rotor warpage. Although machining the rotors has been an acceptable process in the past, more and more manufacturers recommend rotor replacement as opposed to machining for various reasons. This is also recommended by most brake specialists as well.
The bottom line: no one can give you a price for your brake job without looking at the car and performing a brake inspection first. Do you really want to rely on the cheapest price to stop your car? Quality work with brand name parts and a long warranty should be what you are looking for, regardless of the job.
For those of you who may think “auto-repair” is easy, remember my mantra: There is more computing power in most newer vehicles nowadays than there was in the Saturn rocket that sent man to the moon!