We don’t need to tell you that your car’s brakes are very important – they stop you from having a crash! But since the brakes are such as important and major component, it’s no surprise that servicing or repairing them can be quite pricey. Let alone replacing them. In this post, we’ll take a look at the cheapest place to get brakes done. We’ll take a look at reviews and prices at the big chains, and give you some tips on what to look out for before you choose one. While we’re at it, we’ll also help you expand your knowledge on brakes in general.
How Car Brakes Work
It’s obvious just how important car brakes are. But why do they need servicing? Why do they wear down? Well, let us explain how your braking system works and why they need servicing or even a replacement job from time to time. There are two types of brakes: disc and drum brakes. They have different designs but both of them use hydraulic pressure to operate and stops the car by using friction. But since most modern cars use disc brakes, we’ll focus on disc brakes first.
The disc brake consists of a rotor (the disc) that attaches to the wheel hub, which sits inside a caliper. Within the calipers are the brake pads that will come in contact with the rotor. Additionally, some pistons will force the calipers to move with the help of hydraulic pressure, cylinders, and brake fluid. When you press the brake pedal, the master cylinder will apply hydraulic pressure to the system. This will then pump the brake fluid through the brake lines into the secondary cylinders at each of the wheel’s brakes.
Once the fluid reaches the cylinders, it will move the pistons which then move the calipers inwards. When the brake pads inside the calipers come into contact with the rotor, they will slow the rotation of the rotor which slows down your wheels and your car.
The rotor, the caliper, and the brake pads all have to deal with a lot of friction and heat when you brake. Over time, they will wear down and they won’t work as well. This is why you need them serviced or replaced from time to time. You may also need to replace the brake lines and cylinders from time to time. Here’s a video from Donut Media explaining how the brake system works:
How Drum Brakes Work
As mentioned, drum brakes also operate with hydraulic pressure and use friction to slow down the car. However, it has a different design to disc brakes. A drum brake consists of the backplate which serves as the base, the brake shoes, and the wheel cylinder which contains pistons and is connected to the hydraulic system. The drum that rotates with the wheels houses these components.
When you apply the brakes, the hydraulic pressure will push the pistons inside the wheel cylinder. These pistons will move the brake shoes outwards and they will come into contact with the drum. This will then slow the drums down, which in turn will slow down the car’s wheels.
Most modern cars will use disc brakes, but older cars and some entry-level vehicles still use drum brakes for the rear brakes since they’re cheaper. They also have other advantages, such as providing more braking force than an equal diameter disc brake. They are also generally cheaper to maintain and require less maintenance thanks to better corrosion resistance.
However, drum brakes are prone to overheating. When it overheats, the drum can distort and increases in diameter due to thermal expansion. This results in vibrations and the driver needs to press the brake pedal farther. They are also a bit more complex, thus making maintenance more time-consuming even if they don’t require it very often.
In most scenarios, disc brakes are clearly superior. But because some cars still use drums for the rear brakes since they’re cheaper and rear brakes don’t need to do much anyway in most driving conditions, and are mostly used as a parking brake.
The video below explains how drum brakes work:
Signs You Need Your Brakes Serviced
Since your car’s braking system experience a lot of heat and friction, it will wear down over time and need to be serviced or even replaced. Here are some signs you might see when you have a brake problem along with what might be causing them:
Squealing Or Grinding Noises
The two sounds you might hear when you have brake problems are squealing and grinding noises. If you hear a high-pitch squealing noise when you apply the brakes, this likely comes from the brake pad wear indicators. These indicators are made of steel, and when they come in contact with the rotor it will make a metallic squealing noise. This indicates that your brake pads are worn out and you will need to replace them.
Ignore the problem for too long and the squealing noise might turn into grinding noises. This is when your brake pads have worn out and now the calipers and rotors are touching metal-to-metal and created grooves on the rotor. Changing your brake pads should solve this, but at this point, you may need to replace your rotors as well. This depends on the severity of the damage.
If you have new brake pads but you’re hearing squealing noises, this could be because of moisture inside the brakes. Or in the case of drum brakes, not enough lubricant may be causing this. If your front brakes are wet, the squealing noises should go away after you’ve driven for a while. If you have drum brakes, try applying brake lubricants and it should solve the problem.
Wobbling Or Vibrations When Braking
Since the brake discs or rotors have to deal with friction, over time they will wear down. It’s normal for the rotors to have variations, but when their difference in thickness is big enough, this can cause wobbling and vibrations when you brake. This is why the rotors sometimes need to be smoothed and evened out during servicing.
It’s also possible that some brake pad material is sticking to the rotor, creating a bump on the rotor. When the caliper hits that area as you brake, you will feel a vibration since the surface of the rotor isn’t smooth. A sticky piston may also cause vibrations during braking. When a piston is sticky, it won’t retract properly and your caliper will still come into contact with the rotor even when you let go of the brake pedal.
Car Pulling To One Side When Braking
A car pulling to one side during braking means that one of the brakes isn’t working properly. For example, if the front right brakes aren’t working, then the car will pull to the left. This is because only the front left wheels are slowing down, dragging the car to the left.
This can happen because of several causes. For example, a bad brake line that isn’t transferring brake fluids to one of the brakes, and as a result, that particular brake can’t operate. Or, perhaps a sticky piston that won’t move or can’t fully move the caliper into place.
Needless to say, this is very dangerous as your car becomes difficult to control under braking. It also reduces the effectiveness of your brakes, meaning you will need longer distances to stop. It’s best to service the brakes immediately in this scenario.
Spongy Or Soft Brake Pedal
A spongy or soft brake pedal means that there’s a loss of resistance from the brake pedal as you push it. Most brake pedals will have relatively strong resistance. If you notice a difference in the resistance, it usually means there’s air or moisture trapped in the braking system. This will reduce the hydraulic pressure in the system, which reduces the effectiveness of the system and require you to press the brake pedal further to stop the car.
This usually happens because there’s a leak in the braking system, or the system is low on brake fluid. It could also mean a problem with the brake’s master cylinder. Either way, this is very dangerous and scary. You should get this sorted out immediately.
Your Brake Lights Are On
Your car’s dashboard has a few warning lights that light up when the car’s computer detects a problem with certain components. For instance, it will light up the check engine light when it detects a powertrain-related problem. Similarly, it will light up the brake warning lights if the car thinks you have a brake problem. There are usually two brake lights on the dashboard: the red round light with an exclamation mark in the middle (!), or the amber round light with ABS written on it.
The red brake light will light up every time you engage the parking brake. If the light stays on, this usually means that the brake fluid in the master cylinder is low. In this case, simply top up the fluid inside the brake fluid reservoir. If it doesn’t go away, you should take your car to a mechanic.
Meanwhile, the amber ABS light means the car has an ABS problem, usually an electrical problem. ABS stands for Anti-lock Braking System, a safety feature that prevents the wheels from locking up under hard braking. This is necessary because locking up the wheels will make it harder for the car to stop. That’s not to mention it will damage your tires. If you see this light, immediately see a mechanic and sort out the problem as it’s very dangerous. Believe me, hard braking without ABS is absolutely terrifying.
Cheapest Place To Get Brakes Done
So, where’s the cheapest place to get your brakes done? The cost will ultimately depend on what type of brake job you need. Routine service is going to be relatively cheap, but a replacement job will certainly cost more. We’ll list down the places where you can get a brake service and the estimates for each place.
However, keep in mind these are estimates that we found during the time of writing (August 2021), so the estimate you get may differ. Additionally, the cost may be different depending on what state you’re in.
Brake Service At Midas
Midas will charge $50 for a drum brake service, and about $60 if you need new brake fluids. As for the labor cost, they usually charge about $80 an hour for labor. So, assuming you need new brake pads for all four brakes, and let’s say it takes a couple of hours to finish, you will have to pay about $160 in labor.
The good thing about Midas is that you inquire online first before going there. They will give you an estimate for various services you’re looking to do. All you have to do is enter your zip code, then enter the shop nearest to your location. Then specify what services you need and fill in your contact information and then they will send you an estimate.
Brake Service At Pep Boys
Pep Boys offer several brake services. The standard service will run you about $210 per axle, this includes the installation of new brake pads from Wagner, a brake system inspection, and a lifetime warranty for the brake pads. There’s also the Premium service, which includes everything in the standard service and a brake fluid exchange.
Additionally, Pep boys have what’s called the Akebono Ultra Ceramic brake pads. These brake pads are made from ceramic which is stronger and will perform better and last longer. Should you opt to have these brake pads, they will charge you around $300 for each axle. So if you’re replacing all four, that’s about $600.
Brake Service At Jiffy Lube
Next, there’s Jiffy Lube. Jiffy Lube has a good reputation when it comes to brake services, and they will charge you about $365 for a brake pad replacement per axle. But they’re currently running a promotion at some stores and will set you back at just $179 per axle. This makes them a bit cheaper than Pep Boys and is recommended by a lot of customers. Of course, other replacement jobs may cost more. Rotors will usually take longer to replace, so expect to pay more for this service.
Keep in mind that not all of Jiffy Lube’s outlets can provide brake services. Check their location finder and see if the shop nearest to you can do brake services. But unlike Midas, you can’t seem to get an estimate online, so you’ll have to call to get an estimate. The upside is that they will list down available coupons on their website, so be sure to check that to get an even better deal. Additionally, if you have a Jiffy Lube credit card you can finance your brake service.
Cheapest Place To Get Brakes Done: Firestone Complete Auto Care
We’ve saved the cheapest place to get brakes done for last. As far as we can tell, Firestone is the cheapest place to get brakes done. Firestone has similar offers to Pep Boys. They have the standard service which includes Wagner brake pads installation, resurfacing of brake rotors or drums, an inspection of the brake system, and a lifetime warranty for the brake pads, and a 12-month or 12,000-mile warranty for labor.
The higher services will include brake fluid exchange and better warranty coverage depending on which service you choose. The standard job will cost you about $159 at Firestone. But unfortunately, we can’t find any information on how much the higher-tier brake service will cost, so you’ll have to make a phone call to your nearest Firestone shop.
However, they currently have a $50 off per axle coupon available and valid until September 22, 2021. So if you need to get your brakes done, now might be a good time to go to Firestone. Of course, this coupon is only for the brake pads and does not include rotors, drums, and caliper jobs.
Cheapest Place To Get Brakes Done: How About Local Repair Shops?
You can also consider your local repair shops to get your brakes done. But we won’t be able to help you to get an estimate on this one since you will need to check locally. If you already have a trusted repair shop and a mechanic that you trust, then by all means get your brakes done at your local repair shop.
We don’t recommend going for the cheapest available service when it comes to brakes. It’s an essential part of your car’s operation and is crucial for your driving safety. Go to a repair shop that you trust and you know will do a good job, whether they’re big national chains or local shops.
If you don’t have a trusted shop, read customer reviews and recommendations. If a previous customer has the same car as you do and had a good experience, that’s a plus point for the shop since it means they know how to handle your car.
Cheapest Place To Get Brakes Done – How Much Do Brake Components Cost?
The total cost of your brake service will depend largely on the components you need to replace or repair. Brake pads will wear out the quickest, they will wear out after about 40,000 miles on average. They’re typically around $100 – $150 for each axle or about around $200 – $300 for all four brakes. We recommend changing them as soon as you need to, neglecting the brake pads can cause the brake rotors to wear out quicker.
Rotors meanwhile are around $80 each, so if you need to replace all four, expect to pay around $240 before labor. You will need to replace them at around 30,000 to 70,000 miles, depending on the quality and the load that your brake experiences in day-to-day driving. Meanwhile, the calipers can last anywhere between 75,000 to 100,000 miles or about 10 years. But they are quite expensive, at around $200 each to replace before labor.
Keep in mind those are estimates for hatchbacks and compact sedans. SUVs, trucks, and performance cars have larger brakes and sometimes from more expensive materials, so they will likely cost more.
Additionally, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) will likely cost more as well, but you know it will fit your car and work perfectly. Meanwhile, aftermarket parts could be cheaper, but you will need to double-check whether or not the part will fit your car. But it’s a good option if you’re looking to save money.
Cheapest Place To Get Brakes Done – Before You Choose
Before you choose, we have a few tips that you should keep in mind:
- Get estimates and compare them. We can’t stress how important this is when you want to do a major service or repair job for your car. They can be quite expensive so you’ll want to get estimates and compare prices to make sure you get the best possible service for a reasonable price.
- Read customer reviews. You’ll want to make sure that the shop can actually do a good brake job. If you’re looking to get your brakes done at a national chain, find reviews of the outlet that you’re planning to go to. An outlet in Indiana may have good reviews, but then the one in Chicago may not have good reviews. There’s no point saving money for a brake service only to find out they didn’t do a thorough job. Reading customer reviews is also a good way of finding out whether or not they have hidden costs that aren’t listed in the estimate.
- If you’re using non-OEM parts, make sure that the aftermarket manufacturer has a good reputation and there’s a warranty.
- Look for deals and coupons before you proceed with a brake service. Big national chains may list available coupons on their website. Or you can search for deals on websites like Groupon.
- Find out what kind of brake service your car needs. Brake pads? Rotors? Calipers? Or do you need to bleed the system? The cost for each service will vary, so it’ll be a good idea to find out what you need. This will help you get a clear estimate as well as find deals and coupons for the service that you need.
Cheapest Place to Get Brakes Done: Conclusion
We all like to save money when it comes to servicing our car. But since brakes are essential to your car’s operation and safety, make sure you’re still getting a good service despite the cheap price. Firestone seems to be the cheapest place to get brakes done of all the places we list down, but be sure to compare prices and reviews.
And, remember to read reviews for the specific shop you’re planning to go to, as their quality may differ even at big national chains! Hopefully, this post has helped you in making an informed decision on where to get your brakes serviced.
Further reading on brake repairs and maintenance:
These tools have been tried and tested by our team, they are ideal for fixing your car at home.