Written bydiagnostic mechanic
This article contains affiliate links.
In modern vehicles, the braking system can be a complex unit. System components must be right to stop thousands of pounds of metal. Replacing brake rotors or brake pads can be a do-it-yourselfer's nightmare or the "easy" day-to-day task of a seasoned mechanic.
Having the right knowledge about a brake service can save you time and money. In this article, we talk about basic brake repairs and what it takes to replace your brakes.
What is the braking system?
The braking system uses friction to slow the vehicle. When the brake pedal is depressed, brake fluid is pressurized from the master cylinder and sent to the brake calipers. The caliper pistons then press the brake pads against the sides of the brake disc (sometimes referred to as the brake disc) to slow the vehicle.
The braking system consists of:
Brake discs (brake discs)
Brake caliper(s) and brake caliper carrier
- Sliding pins and mounting hardware are included with this caliper bracket.
Front brake pads
rear brake pads
ABS pump (anti-lock braking system)
Depending on the vehicle, it may have drum brakes with brake shoes, wheel cylinders, adjusters, and other linkages.
How many brake discs does a car have?
Most modern cars have four brake discs on the car.There will be two in front and two in back. Depending on the vehicle, the rear brakes may be drum brakes; a more complex braking system still in use today.
How many brake pads does a car have?
A car usually has four or eight brake pads.Of course, this depends on whether the vehicle has drum brakes.
How long do brake pads last?
The rule of thumb is between 10,000 and 20,000 miles.Of course, riding style can vary depending on how long your brake pads are. A more aggressive driver can brake harder and more frequently than a more cautious driver. Driving habits are the biggest factor when replacing brake pads.
When to change brake pads?
A vehicle's brake pads must be replaced when they reach a minimum thickness. This depends on the specifications of the car manufacturer. A general rule of thumb is when the pad is 1/4 inch or less. If the brake pads are too low, it can cause brake squeal or a “metal grinding” noise.
How long do brake discs last?
Brake discs can last between 50,000 and 70,000 miles. Driving style determines how long a brake disc will last.
If a brake disc becomes too thin, it can cause excessive vibration during braking. This shaking is caused by the warping of the brake disc.
Heat causes the brake disc to warp.
Some brake rotors can be machined or "turned" for a smooth finish, but this can result in premature warping. Thin brake discs heat up faster.
In most cases it is better to replace the brake disc.
The photo above is a broken brake rotor.
The reason is that the owner neglected to routinely check the brakes and continued driving even after hearing the "metal crunch".
How long does the brake change take?
A complete brake job can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours by a professional mechanic or brake specialist.Factors like rust and corrosion can slow down a mechanic on a brake job. Some new luxury vehicles require special tools to compress the caliper piston. These additional steps can increase the time of a brake application.
Grinding when braking at low speeds?
A grinding noise at low speeds could be a sign that the brake pads are getting too flat.
How do I know when my brake pads need changing?
If you think your brake pads are too low, see a professional for an inspection.
Squeaking or squeaking noises
Indicator light or brake warning light
On some vehicles, when the brake pads are very worn, a “Brake Pad Low” warning appears on the dashboard or instrument panel. A sensor on the brake pad called a wear indicator begins to rub against the surface of the brake disc when the brake pad is low. In this case, the wear indicators must also be replaced.
"Cracking" metal noise
Vibration when braking
Brake pads smaller than 1/4 inch
Brake light indicates low brake fluid level
What happens if I let my brake pads go too low?
If you know your brake pads are getting weak but you still ride on them, you could damage your vehicle.
Obviously you won't get the same stopping power as you would with a new set of brake pads.
There is a possibility that the rotor will be damaged beyond "turning" or machining. See the image below for an example.
There is also a possibility that the piston in the caliper is pushing too hard. In this case, the plunger may not come back, or it may be damaged and stop working properly. See the image below for an example.
What do I need for brake work?
new brake pads
jack and jack
For brake caliper, brake caliper holder etc.
Lug or impact wrenches with impact sockets
Be careful not to strip the nuts when removing.
Tighten the screws to the correct specification.
Brake Piston Tool and Caliper Bracket
Level surface and wheel chocks
Your car may require special tools. Follow a short Youtube video or blog atyour specific vehiclecan take into account the need for special tools.
Don't have these tools? There is good news! Ask your local auto parts store if they offer a tool rental program. They can provide you with exactly the tool you need.
Safety Tip: After replacing the brakes, pump the brake pedal several times to feel a strong, hard pedal before riding.
Important tip: New brake pads must be "polished" on new brake discs to ensure the best braking performance.
It is important that the calipers do not hang from the brake line. The weight of the caliper can stretch and damage the brake line.
A caliper bracket is used to hold the caliper so it doesn't stretch the brake line.
A tether can also be used in place of a caliper hanger.
How do you find torque specs for your car?
After installing new brakes, the vehicle's bolts must be tightened to specification.
Each loosened screw must be tightened with the correct torque before driving.
alldata does it itselfcan provide the correct torque specifications for your vehicle.
How do I find the right brake parts for my car?
Just go to your local auto parts store and they can help you order front brakes and rear brakes for your car. Be sure to order the correct type of brake pads for your vehicle. Look for quality brake pad materials. Quality brake pads can reduce brake wear and extend the life of your brake pads.
Don't forget to ask about a tool rental program.
Be sure to check every component you buy from the auto parts store. Some vehicles come with different types and sizes of front and rear brake pads and rotors.
Always compare the pad and rotor to get the correct hardware and size.
Some brake pads go onto the vehicle in a specific way. Make sure the old pads are oriented in the same direction that they were removed to ensure the new pads will work the same way.
How can you take care of your brakes?
A proper brake inspection can extend the life of your brakes.
Brake Fluid Condition - Make sure it is clean and not too low
Thickness of the brake pads - make sure there is not too much wear.
How does the pedal and steering feel when braking?
Visually inspect brake components for excessive wear or brake fluid leakage.
Rate your personal driving style.
It may be time to avoid higher speeds and hard stops.
Safe driving goes hand in hand with correct braking. Many vehicle owners trust their workshop to provide a full report of their braking system to ensure it is in good condition. If you have any concerns about your braking system, contact a professional mechanic immediately.
The best way to prevent brake problems from slowing you down is to perform regular visual and physical inspections of your maintenance or oil change jobs. The security issue(s) may be a life and death situation. Proper maintenance of a vehicle can save you money in the long run.
Disclaimer and Disclosure:
Due to factors beyond DiagnosticMechanic.com's control, DiagnosticMechanic.com cannot guarantee against unauthorized modifications of this information or misuse of this information. DiagnosticMechanic.com assumes no responsibility for any property damage or personal injury resulting from information on this website. DiagnosticMechanic.com recommends safe practices when working with any power tool, auto lift, jack, jack, electrical appliance, blunt instrument, chemical, lubricant, or any other tool or device displayed or implied on this site. Due to factors beyond DiagnosticMechanic.com's control, nothing contained on this website creates any warranty or guarantee, express or implied, as to any particular result. Any injury, damage or loss resulting from misuse of these tools, devices or the information contained in this website is the sole responsibility of the user and not DiagnosticMechanic.com.
DiagnosticMechanic.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to allow websites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. In many of our case studies, articles, and tool reviews, we may earn a small commission if readers purchase products through our links.
Consider this: even an expert automotive technician takes between 30 minutes to an hour or more to replace the brake pads and rotors on some vehicles. For someone with little to no experience, brake pad replacement could take several hours or more.How much is a brake job 2022? ›
Each aftermarket rotor costs an average of $30 to $75. Labor to service brakes can run from $90 to $200 per hour. Brake service generally comes to approximately $200 to $500 per axle at a professional shop. Calipers are typically the most difficult and expensive aspect of the braking system to service.How long does a brake job take at a dealership? ›
How long does a brake repair or brake replacement take? Under normal circumstances, brake repairs or replacements will take, on average, 1 to 2 ½ hours; however, based on the number of repairs, it could run a little longer.How long does getting new brakes take? ›
Most brake pad compounds will take up to 300-400 miles to fully develop an even film transfer onto the rotors.How much should a full brake job cost? ›
When you take your car to a mechanic, a brake job can run you anywhere from about $140 to $1000 or more per axle. The price difference can be attributed to several different factors, including: The type, make, and model of your vehicle. What's included in the brake service package and accompanying warranty.Is it OK to replace brake pads only? ›
Replacing brake pads only
If your rotors aren't worn or damaged when you go in for brake service, you can probably get away with changing just the brake pads.
So, in summary, a complete brake job means: Replacing the brake pads and rotors. Checking the caliper slides. Replacing the brake hardware. Performing a brake fluid exchange.Is it worth getting brakes done at the dealership? ›
Servicing your vehicle at a dealership is one of the best ways to guarantee your car gets genuine OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts. Whether it is oil filters or brake pads, you will receive everything straight from the assembly line.How long do brakes last? ›
Brake pads and shoes are generally thought to be good between 30,000-35,000 miles in urban use. In less demanding situations like highway driving in light traffic, brakes may last 80,000 miles or more.How much does Walmart charge for a brake job? ›
While Walmart Auto Care Center does not offer brake services, they do offer a wide range of services to help you keep your vehicle operating at its best. Here is a list of their services, including prices: Standard oil change – $32.88.
It may be possible to Drive the Car for a while before the Brakes completely Stop Working. This isn't advisable for two reasons: It is not Safe. Driving on Grinding Brakes will only make the issue Worse and increase the Cost of Repair. The Grinding Noise your Brakes are making is the lack of Pad Material in the Brakes.Which wears out first front or rear brakes? ›
Your front brake pads will also wear down faster than your rear pads. The front of your vehicle handles a lot more weight transfer as you brake, causing more wear. Over time heat and friction also contribute to brake pad wear.How do you drive after new brakes? ›
You can definitely apply your brakes fully and completely when your vehicle comes right out of the shop. Just give yourself plenty of time to brake at all stops and lights. Try not to gun or work your brakes really hard during those first 500 miles. Otherwise, you run the risk of overheating the brake pads.How many miles should a brake job last? ›
Most car brakes will last between 25,000 and 60,000 miles–between three and six years for most daily drivers–but some sets may last even longer for those who exercise good habits.Do new brakes stop a car faster? ›
Getting new brake pads, rotors, lines, and fluid can make the driver feel better and will make a vehicle stop safer, but it will do very little to help you stop faster. If you want to shorten your stopping distance, the only way to really achieve that is with a big brake kit.How much does it cost to replace all 4 brakes? ›
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.How much does it cost to replace all 4 brakes on a car? ›
The average front brake pad replacement cost is between $115 and $300; this is about the same as the cost of rear brake pad replacement. The cost of replacing all four brake pads, including parts and labor, ranges between $230 and $600 for all four wheels.How much does a 4 wheel brake job cost? ›
You can expect to pay between $35 and $150 for parts for all four wheels. Labor can vary, but tends to be $80 to $120 per axle, for a total of $115 to $270 per axle. It's usually a good choice to have your rotors replaced with your brake pads, since worn rotors don't work very well, even with new pads.How do I know if my rotors are bad? ›
- Vibrating Steering Wheel. If you feel pulsing in the brake pedal and vibration in the steering wheel when you slow down, your rotors could be signaling trouble. ...
- Intermittent Screeching. ...
- Blue Coloration. ...
- Excessive Wear Over Time.
You can damage the brake rotors and calipers.
Your car's brakes are a closely-connected system of moving parts, and when one component is damaged, the wear can trickle down into other elements.
Front Brake Pad Replacement Cost
These brakes pads often get overheated, and can in turn squeak, groan or grind. The average front brake pad replacement cost is between $115 and $300, this is about the same as the cost of rear brake pad replacements. These materials range in quality from poor quality to premium.
Depending on your needs, brake service can include a number of things. The standard list involves replacing the front disc brake pads, resurfacing the rotors, replacing the rear drum brake shoes, resurfacing the drums.What does replacing brakes include? ›
It will include flushing out the old brake fluid and replacing it with new fluid, replacing brake pads, resurfacing rotors, and cleaning, adjusting, and lubricating other braking mechanisms.Can Autozone do brakes? ›
We carry aftermarket and performance brakes designed to fit your vehicle from trustworthy brands like ACDelco, Brembo, and Duralast. From pads and rotors to more specialized parts like the master cylinder or hardware, we have the best automotive parts at the right price for all major makes and models.How long can you drive without changing brakes? ›
On average, brake pads should be replaced every 25,000 to 65,000 miles, while rotors typically should be changed anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles. However, the exact number can differ depending on driving conditions and styles.Is it OK to buy cheap brakes? ›
Regardless of which kind of brake pads you opt for in your vehicle, it's important to purchase high-quality versions. Cheap brake pads not only produce a lot of dust and noise, but they also are a major safety concern.What causes brakes to wear out quickly? ›
Sometimes, pads wear down too quickly because your calipers don't work correctly. Calipers push pads against the rotor to initiate braking. If a caliper jams or sticks, then it might leave the pad on the surface for longer than necessary. The pad will wear down more quickly because it stays on the rotor for too long.How do I know if I need new brakes? ›
CARS.COM — If your car's brakes are squeaking, squealing or making ominous grinding noises when you apply the pedal, you might need new brake pads or rotors. Ditto if the brake pedal has more travel than usual before you feel much braking force, or if it just feels like your car requires longer distances to stop.How do I check my brakes? ›
Elevate your vehicle about 6" off the ground, unscrew the lug nuts and remove the tire. Once the tire is off, you'll have a good view of not only the brake pad but also of the caliper, rotor and brake lines. Carefully inspect the brake pad, looking for excessive wear.How much is a brake job and flush? ›
The costs of changing the brake fluid, or doing a brake fluid flush, should cost between $80 to $130 and should be done by a professional mechanic to ensure safety. These costs can vary based on whether you want to change the fluid yourself and the type of fluid you have.
Jiffy Lube® provides brake replacement without stopping your day. Whether you need pads, shoes, rotors or drums, a Jiffy Lube® brake service helps get your vehicle brake system back to manufacturer specifications.Is a brake job easy? ›
If you're replacing front brake pads, generally, the job is considered a straightforward, entry-level repair. Keep in mind, however, that you will need to buy some tools to get the job done. Plus, you'll need a place where you can work safely, without getting distracted.How long can I drive with squeaky brakes? ›
If your brakes are squeaking due to worn brake pads, you should replace them immediately. You shouldn't drive the car for more than a day or two. The squealers warn the driver that the brakes need a service. If you neglect them, you will impose more damage, which will surge the repair expense.What do worn brake pads sound like? ›
When the pads and shoes wear down, it can result in a metallic grinding noise, as the backing plate starts making contact with the rotor or drum. Brake pads also have a metal wear indicator that drags on the rotors when the pads are worn out. This will make a grinding or squealing noise.Why do my brakes sound like dragging? ›
Typically, this dragging sound is caused by a brake caliper or brake drum that has either seized or not completely released when you took your foot off the brake pedal.Should you replace all 4 brake pads at once? ›
But, when changing brake pads, should you do all four at once? Well, first, you absolutely should replace both front or both rear brake pads at the same time. Unless something's really wrong, one should be wearing out at about the same rate as the other.Which brakes do the most stopping? ›
Did you know that 60-90% of your car's braking power comes from the front brakes? This has a lot of implications for you as a car owner. For one, your front brake pads will wear faster so you will need to replace them more frequently.Are front brakes more expensive than rear? ›
However, front brake pads are more expensive than rear brake pads. As they do the bulk of the braking, they are larger than rear pads. This helps them cope with the weight transfer and braking forces. There are also design differences, such as ventilation, which increase the cost.How long is labor for brakes and rotors? ›
Replacing the front pads requires one hour. An on-car disc rotor refinish is 1.0 hours for both rotors. Bleeding or flushing the system is quoted as “combination time” of an additional 0.2 hours. Altogether, the flat-rate time for an average front brake service adds up to 2.8 hours.How long does it take to change brake pads and rotors? ›
As a general rule, you should get your brake pads replaced every 10,000 to 20,000 miles to keep wear to a minimum. When it comes to your rotors, you have a bit longer. Your rotors should be replaced between 50,000 and 70,000 miles to keep your brakes in peak health.
A brake job usually involves replacing the brake linings (which means replacing the brake pads and/or shoes), resurfacing the rotors and/or drums, adding new brake fluid and bleeding the system as needed, and looking for other worn components.How long does it take a mechanic to fix brakes? ›
Brake repairs can take anywhere from 15 minutes to eight hours. They're usually going to take around one to three hours on average. There are a variety of brake repair types to consider, with some taking longer than others.How much does it cost to replace all 4 brakes and rotors? ›
How much does it cost to replace the brake pads and rotors? Rotors cost between $30 and $75 each. Labor to replace rotors and pads is around $150 to $200 per axle. Brake pads and rotors come out to around $250 to $500 per axle.Is replacing brake pads easy? ›
If you're hearing a nasty squeal when you press on the brake pedal, then it may be time to change your brake pads. Changing your brakes is a fairly simple process for the avid DIYer and we'd rate it a 2 out of 5 wrenches in difficulty. Depending on what vehicle you have, this project could take between 45-2 hours.How many miles do brake pads last? ›
Brake pads and shoes are generally thought to be good between 30,000-35,000 miles in urban use. In less demanding situations like highway driving in light traffic, brakes may last 80,000 miles or more.What to do after a brake job? ›
- Speed up to 35 mph.
- Use moderate brake pressure to slow down to 5 mph. ...
- Repeat 2-3 times.
- Speed up to 55 mph.
- Use strong brake pressure to slow down to 5 mph. ...
- Repeat 4-5 times.
- Drive for 5-10 minutes to allow the brakes to slowly cool down. ...
- Park the vehicle and let the brakes cool for an hour.
A full brake pad and disc replacement takes between 1 and 3 hours, no matter if you need the front or rear brakes changed. Changing brake pads on their own takes between 30 minutes and 1 hour.How long can you drive on messed up brakes? ›
In some force majeure cases, the maximum mileage you can run with bad rotors is 50 miles. Driving with bad rotors is not a safe situation because rotors can break or crack. Causing your car to experience extreme loss of braking force.