When Did (Car) Brake Jobs Become So Expensive?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by RJM62, Jul 1, 2019.

  1. RJM62

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    I'm in need of rear brakes. Not immediately, but within the next month or so (and certainly before the car comes due for inspection in October). The pads are just barely above the manufacturer-specified minimum, and the rotors are too worn to cut. The vehicle in question is a 2016 Kia Soul.

    In my younger days until quite recently, I did almost all of my own car maintenance. So imagine my shock when I was quoted prices in the ~$400.00 range for rear brakes and rotors. The dealership was the most expensive at > $400.00. One of the local guys who's halfway decent came in at about $360.00.

    The thing is, without a lift, I can do a disk brake job on one axle in about an hour (including jacking up the car and removing and replacing the wheels). With a lift, maybe half an hour to 45 minutes, tops. There's just not all that much to it. Pull the caliper, toss the pads, replace the rotor, clean and lube, compress the piston, slip in the new pads, and button it up. It's not rocket surgery.

    I got on Rock Auto, and they had the whole kit (Power Stop pads and coated rotors, the hardware kit, and even the grease) for $75.79, plus $16.98 shipping. So we're in at under $100.00 for parts, even at retail. The posted labor rate is $65.00 / hour at the local shop ($75.00 if you bring your own parts), and a bit more that that at the dealer and the chain shops.

    They tell me that the shop manual specifies an hour per wheel for labor. I couldn't spend an hour per wheel if I tried. I'm incapable of moving that slowly. We're talking five lug nuts, two screws, and four bolts. Add in a couple of whacks with a hammer to get the rotor off, and we're still nowhere near an hour. The hardest part is getting the screws out, and an impact screwdriver makes light work of that.

    I ordered the parts. If we were talking a $100.00 cost difference, I'd have had the mechanic do it. For a $260.00 - $300.00+ cost difference, I'll do it myself. In fact, I wish I'd ordered the fronts as well. They look like they'll pass inspection in October with no problem, but that would leave open the possibility of my having to replace them in February. Maybe I'll replace them in September when it's nice out.

    Rich
     
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  2. EppyGA

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  3. Ryanb

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    Dad and I have been doing our own since I was just a wee lad for this exact reason. Saves a lot of dough.
     
  4. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Cleared for Takeoff

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    Haven’t paid for brake work in decades. No idea.
     
  5. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I used to when I had a company car and wasn't allowed to do maintenance on it. I'd lay out the money and get reimbursed. I don't think I ever spent more than $175.00 per axle, and that was in NYC.

    Rich
     
  6. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

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    Try a dealer quote of $1300 on an Audi Q5!
     
  7. wsuffa

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    A lot of the newer cars have brake rotors so thin that they can't be resurfaced or reused with new pads. So many - if not most - newer cars (post 2010) will require rotors, too. I'm told it was for weight savings (as well as cost savings).

    I ran into this situation when I had a frozen caliper last year. Added about $150-200 to the job on my truck.
     
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  8. IK04

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    Brakes are very satisfying because they become completely new in a short time. One of my favorite repairs...
     
  9. NoHeat

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    PowerStop brakes are good. Their drilled & slotted discs completely solved the warping problem that I was having on one vehicle, and the price was good, too.
     
  10. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Truck rotors can be expensive. Kia Soul rotors, not so much unless you want them to be. The stock ones are solid and gave me 37,000 miles, so that's what I bought (although I did go for coated ones because of the salt). But they had all sorts of other rotors that claimed myriad miraculous powers. I passed.

    The winters are rough on brakes here, even for people like me who don't use them much. I know the roads, the hills, the curves, which gear to be in, and when to let up on the gas to slow down without braking. Learning to drive without brakes is a winter-driving skill that also pays dividends in fuel economy and longer brake life. But the salt and sand still manage to get up between the pads and rotors and do a job on them. I'm hoping the coated rotors will help some, at least on the non-friction parts of the rotors.

    Rich
     
  11. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've never had a problem with PowerStop pads or rotors. If we weren't talking about a Kia Soul driven by an old guy, I might have gone for the drilled and slotted rotors. But I don't do much racing and haven't had any warping problems with solid rotors.

    Rich
     
  12. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait

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    There's probably a bit of opportunity cost mixed in there, i.e. tying up a lift for an hour or two. I replaced all rotors/pads on my truck at less than half the cost of the cheapest quote I received. Tried to replace the rotors on my Mother's Lincoln and had to punt because I couldn't get enough leverage on one of the caliper bolts so not every job will turn out to be a slam dunk DIY...
     
  13. SoCal RV Flyer

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    It's difficult to find a machine shop these days to turn the rotors, and new parts are soooo cheap...discs for my Honda Fit are about $20 apiece. Rock Auto is your friend. :D
     
  14. cowman

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    I’ve just been automatically getting new rotors for most jobs now. Certain vehicles(like our Subaru) that seem prone to stuck calipers get reman calipers too. Not worth having to do it twice.
     
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  15. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    Honestly that pricing to me seems perfectly fine and they’re using better parts. Your $100 rotors and pads set is likely to not last long and shops don’t like to use crap parts as that damages their name and ****es off customers down the road.

    The auto shop will also be selling you the parts at retail plus maybe more. They make money from selling parts, not just turning wrenches, a detail often forgot.

    I would have expected a shop to charge about that much for all the years I’ve been driving. Reality is you will occupy at least 1.5 hour of their time, from your estimate calls, to ordering parts, to conversing with you when you pick it up. Don’t forget they need to make up lost money on all the people expecting free estimates out of them.

    A lift doesn’t save much time on this particular job. A minute at the most when you get down to it. I could jack your car up and have it on stands with all four wheels off the ground in under 90 seconds. Give me another 30 seconds and I could have all the wheels off.

    The amount of time you’ve spent writing this post and calling places for estimates is more time then it’d take you to do the job yourself.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
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  16. G-force

    G-force Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sounds like you haven't had the pleasure of trying to retract the pistons in a modern cars rear calipers that have integrated the parking brake. Its a PITA and takes special tools.
     
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  17. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Line Up and Wait

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    There’s times I wished I was unable to do repairs and just accepted the higher cost of shop work the norm... but I just can’t bring my cheapskate self to do it... YouTube and google researching has saved me 10s of thousands over the years...I’ve had no mentor or teacher as my pops has a tough time with the technicalities of changing a light bulb... but I was blessed with the aptitude and cheapness to go for it... idda done same as you.

    I’ve also found many of the same things and as good or better prices with faster shipping on Amazon as I have Rick auto lately...
     
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  18. Zeldman

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    37,000 miles even in salt sounds kind low miles to me. Maybe you should use the brakes more often..!! ;) :lol::lol:
     
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  19. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Especially when the front wheel bearings are factory pressed into the rotors, and better yet, in a way that prevents the rotors from being turned in a conventional brake lathe.

    This wasn’t to me, but so far, I’ve been lucky, and had the parking brake as a small drum brake integrated into the rotor. Seems like a much nicer, and more resilient system. I’ve also so far avoided the systems that take the expensive computers to do basic brake jobs.
     
  20. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    When I did the rear brakes on my wifes Ford Taurus that had lived around Rochester NY, I think I spent about an hour per wheel cussing the salt damage and Fords inane brake design.
     
  21. Let'sgoflying!

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    Had a good mechanic install new brakes. Something was not right about it so I took it to a second shop and they said 'Toyota brakes are special/different and they knew they were installed wrong but did not have the skills or tools to fix the problem" so I took it to the dealer for brake$ to be reinstalled.
    Because of that I've always been a bit skeered of them. Would love to know what the problem was or how they are different. Something about the 'clips'?
    2003 4Runner
     
  22. Clip4

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    $400 sounds reasonable to me.
     
  23. RJM62

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    I have the piston tool and have never had problems with the parking brake. I think that disconnecting the cable would solve that problem if I did unless one of the springs was broken, which would indeed be a bummer.

    Rich
     
  24. Kenny Phillips

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    I just don't use the brakes much, and typically get 75,000—100,000 miles from them, and fix them myself.
    When I was in that business, Fiat automobiles (the 70's versions, not the new ones) needed brakes as often as 10K miles.
    Perhaps they are making up for lost revenue with the longer lasting stuff.
     
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  25. RJM62

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    Well, Jesse, you're probably the smartest guy I've ever met, so I always take what you say seriously regardless of the topic. But 90 seconds to jack up the car seems... optimistic. But then again, you're a young, energetic man. So there's that.

    We'll see about the pads and rotors. I've never had any complaints about PowerStop so far. But if I'm wrong, then I'll call it a lesson learned and try someone else's parts next time around (or simply use OEM, or maybe even pay a mechanic).

    Rich
     
  26. RJM62

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    I think it's the sand as much as or more than the salt. I live in a watershed, and they use sand on most of the roads. They only use salt on especially treacherous stretches. Also, the rear brakes tend to go first here. I've noticed that on my last few cars. I'm thinking maybe the fronts are spared because the sand they kick up winds up behind them. But it's also true that the rear rotors and pads have been smaller on all the cars, so it's hard to say.

    What I know for sure is that the rear pads and rotors are always a mess with rust and scoring. The sand seems the most likely culprit behind the scoring. The rust just is what it is. I'm curious whether the coated rotors will make a difference considering that they'll do absolutely nothing to prevent the scoring.

    Rich
     
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  27. Grum.Man

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    Car repairs in general have gotten ridiculous. The shop rates keep going up and the book times keep going up as well even though some things have gotten easier to do. It's much easier to do rear disk brakes than it is to do drum ones. I do all my own work on pretty much everything I own. You can't find anyone to do it right in the first place and when you do they want a fortune.
     
  28. Bill Jennings

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    $350-400/axle sounds right to me for dealer pricing. An indy might be 10-20% lower.

    Rich, they have to price some gotcha money in there. The last time I did my truck front brakes, on the 1st side the caliper bolt snapped off, on the other side, one of the sliding pins was frozen solid. That required cleaning the bore and another trip to the auto parts store for a bolt/pin/boot kit. Luckly, no torn dust seals on the pistons, but if there is a hole in the piston, that will require opening up the system, blowing out the piston, cleaning it all up, and new piston seals and dust seals. Then refill/rebleed of the brake system. All that possibility is wrapped up into the price of a brake job.
     
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  29. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

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    If you wait long enough, sometimes the "quick and easy" way to get drums off is to cut them off but you get to that point only after some time trying to get the frozen adjusters to turn, prying, pounding, etc. So things like that are factored into the flat rate.
     
  30. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Fear is the poison of our lives.
    I went down to the local tire place to get 4 mounted and balanced. $30 each! An addition $25 if I wanted them to run a brush around the bead to remove corrosion typical of aluminum wheels.

    Pricing of automotive labor has gotten out of hand. Probably because parts have become so cheap and pricing info so easily available. Do it yourself, save a bundle. Or pay the local Sparrow Fart mechanic and support your local economy.
     
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  31. gdwindowpane

    gdwindowpane Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    You mean a C clamp? :biggrin:

    GF has a 2017 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid. Sales rep said the brakes should never need replaced. Said the only time they are used is right before the car comes to a complete stop. I believe it, I pulled a couple of wheels off a couple of weeks ago and the brakes look brand new. Car has 40,000+ miles on it.
     
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  32. JOhnH

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    They charge that much because they can. I know hundreds of millennials, and I truly respect them, but they are all much better computer geeks than they are mechanics. There are exceptions of course but most of them would rather pay to have this done than do it themselves.

    That and what @jesse said, except that I think he is exaggerating his speed.
     
  33. SoonerAviator

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    I haven't paid a shop for a brake job since I started driving in '99. Oklahoma's roads don't do too much damage to automotive components (save for beating the hell out of suspension items). I have used PowerStop components several times and been happy with them. So brake jobs are pretty painless. It's amazing how complicated some manufacturers want to make installing the pads into the caliper though. Fancy sheet metal clips that are sharp as razors and never stay in place when you're trying to get the caliper back on the disc, disc set screws that weld themselves to the disc after 60K miles and have to be cut out with an air hammer, etc. . . .


    Well, C-clamps work on most of them, but a lot of the modern vehicles use a tool that "screws" the piston back down into the caliper. The worse part is that several different manufacturers do it, but use tools that have slightly different contact points, meaning that no one single tool does them all. You end up buying a caliper piston set with a half-dozen heads to swap out. I'm a fan of the C-clamp, lol.
     
  34. genna

    genna Cleared for Takeoff

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    $400?! I wish! That's just a cost of good aftermarket parts for me per axle. Dealer wanted something around $3 AMU to replace pads and rotors. This is the case for my last 3 cars. First time I haerd this price in 2003 after 25kmi on a new car I was floored. $600 was the price for each OEM rotor. Thank you, but no, thank you. This is definitely a job I do myself. I wish I had a lift
     
  35. FORANE

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    You must be driving one of those high dollar foreign jobs.
     
  36. genna

    genna Cleared for Takeoff

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    Not currently. A GM car.
     
  37. FORANE

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    And 3 AMU for pads and rotors?
    Dang!
     
  38. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I'd say that sounds excessive but a dealer just quoted me $1750 to replace a catalytic converter on a 2011 chevy equinox 4 cylinder.

    They told me the cat was $1200 and I guess they want 6 hours labor? insane. A GM cat online shipped to my door is $750 and an aftermarket is $250.
     
  39. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A C-clamp will work on the front, but not the rears on most modern cars. Well, it might, but it's not the way it's supposed to be done. They have a tool with two tabs that insert into holes or recesses in the piston pressure plate, and you compress it by turning it. A one-size-fits-most that looks vaguely like a Rubik's Cube and attaches to a ratchet extension costs about $10.00 on Amazon and is good enough for occasional use. You can also use a pair of needle-nose pliers if you don't have the tool.

    Rich
     
  40. genna

    genna Cleared for Takeoff

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    To be fair, the brakes are Brembo. In 2003 that car also had Brembo brakes. I like Brembo brakes and I like working with those solid calipers, but the OE rotor prices are insane. A good aftermarket alternative is about 8 times cheaper. Still, it was about 800 brake job doing it myself.

    Recently, a friend who is a good mechanic, opened up a shop 3 min away from me. I'm a happy, happy man. I can buy my own parts and he can install them for me.