How Much Does It Cost To Replace Brakes?

Brake work is one of many maintenance procedures you will have to perform over the lifespan of your vehicle. It also happens to be one of the most important. Without properly working brakes, you risk both your own safety and the safety of others on the road. Once you accept the reality that you have to pay for brake repair every so often, you need to budget accordingly. How much do brakes cost, and how often will you need to foot that bill?

Whether you are a DIYer or prefer to take your car to the shop, you can find all of the parts you need at an AutoZone near you.

Frequency of Brake Jobs

How often you need to schedule a brake job depends on a number of factors, including how often you drive your vehicle, in what conditions you drive your vehicle, the quality of the parts with which you equip your vehicle and how often you have your brake system maintained. That said, there are certain standards to which you can refer.

Most brake pad companies and mechanics can agree that quality brake pads should last anywhere between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. However, some may need replacement every 25,000 miles, while others can last far longer than 70,000 miles.

Brake rotors and calipers, which are more expensive and complicated to replace than pads, typically last three times longer than brake pads. However, the frequency with which you should change either component will depend on several factors. Typical factors that affect the wear of brake components include the following:

  • Environment: Stop-and-go driving, such as the type of driving people experience in cities, can drastically shorten the lifespan of a vehicle’s braking system. So too can mountainous environments where drivers have to ride the brakes to control downhill speeds.
  • Driving Habits: Drivers who ride the brakes or routinely stop abruptly risk wearing out their brakes prematurely. However, those who are in the habit of stopping gradually may enjoy a longer brake lifespan.
  • Materials: Brake pads, rotors and calipers are all made of different materials, each of which affects their durability. For instance, carbon-ceramic brakes last longer than standard metal or steel brakes. However, because they’re more durable, they often cost much more than their weaker counterparts.

Now that you understand how often you’ll need to get your brakes replaced, you may wonder what the actual price for new brakes and rotors actually is. How much will this particular aspect of vehicle maintenance eat into your monthly or annual budget?

The Actual Cost of Brakes

If you can make the brake repair yourself, you can save a good deal of money on brake pad and rotor replacement. However, not everyone is mechanically inclined and not everyone has the time to put into brake maintenance. To ensure you get the best possible deal, call around for quotes from a few different mechanics. Some questions each mechanic should ask you to give you an accurate brake job quote are as follows:

  • What Brand of Vehicle Do You Drive? Typically, parts for European-made vehicles such as BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Jaguars will cost you more than parts for domestic or Japanese-made vehicles. Also, because European vehicle systems differ from American-systems, the mechanic may require more time to make the switch, which means higher labor costs.
  • What Kind of Vehicle Do You Drive? In addition to asking about the brand of vehicle you drive, the mechanic should ask about the make and model. The driver of a Chevy Silverado 1500 Duramax diesel will pay exponentially more for new brakes than the driver of, say, a Ford Fiesta. This is because the size and weight of a vehicle plays a role in the type of materials the brake system needs as well as how long the brake repair job will take.
  • What Kind of Driving Do You Do? If you use your vehicle for standard city or highway driving, your answer to this question shouldn’t affect the overall cost of the repair job. However, if you like to push your vehicle to the max, you likely need a performance brake system, which will cost you more.
  • What Kind of Materials Do You Want To Use? The friction of brake pads comes in a variety of materials, including ceramic, semi-metallic and organic, all of which perform differently and come with varying price tags. If you purchase aftermarket brake pads from a premium brand, expect to pay premium prices. Likewise, if you go with an off-brand, you can save a bit. If you want OEM brake parts, expect to pay a pretty-penny, as original parts are often the most expensive.

How Much to Replace Brakes

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer to the question of how much new brakes should cost. Every mechanic charges a different hourly rate and every manufacturer prices its parts singularly. That said, for brake pad replacement only, you can expect to pay between $35 and $150 for parts for all four wheels. Labor typically runs between $80 and $120 per axle, making for a grand total of between $115 and $270 per axle.

Replacing rotors with your brake pads is critical for best braking and maximum safety. New pads on worn rotors can create issues with the new pads, cause vibration, or make braking less safe than with new pads and new rotors together. Rotors cost from $30 to $75 each. Higher-quality rotors like Duralast Gold, which feature a coated hat and edge and are designed to outperform your vehicle’s original equipment, usually cost a little more. Labor at a shop to replace rotors and pads is approximately $150 to $200 per axle. Brake rotor and pad repair generally comes out to around $250 to $500 per axle when visiting a professional shop.

Calipers are the most difficult and expensive aspect of the braking system to replace. A single caliper can cost up to $130. A complete brake repair — one that includes pad, rotor and caliper replacement — typically averages between $300 and $800. However, depending on the make and model of your vehicle, you can easily spend more than $1,000 on a complete brake job.

Of course, you can save a significant amount of money if you learn to replace the pads, rotors and calipers yourself. Before you go the DIY maintenance route, though, bear in mind that your safety should come before cost. If you don’t feel comfortable making the repair yourself, hire a mechanic.

If you do feel comfortable making the repair yourself, make sure you have the proper tools. Pick up the tools you need, along with the appropriate parts, from AutoZone today.

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