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November 16, 2011 - Larry DeHays
HOW MUCH FOR A BRAKE JOB ON MY CAR?"
I know this sounds like a reasonable question, because it is asked every day by a lot of people, but if anyone gives you a quick off-the-cuff answer to that question, you are being conned. Let me explain.
There is no such thing as a "brake job", where a predetermined price takes care of everything. The brakes on your car are a system of hydraulic and mechanical parts that are all wearing as you drive. Some parts are expected to wear more than others, like the brake pads or shoes, and require replacement more often than other parts, but the other parts wear also, and for safety reasons, must be inspected and replaced or reconditioned as needed. For instance, the brake rotors (or discs) get thinner as they wear, and when they get to a certain minimum thickness they must be replaced, or they might break under use. If that happens you might go flying through a stop light with no brakes, even though you have new pads. When you ask that "how much?" question, the answerer must have first measured the thickness of your rotors, among other things, before he can answer you accurately. The reason I said you were being conned is that if he gives you a figure without knowing what has to be done, he is setting you up for a "bait and switch", where he tells you about the rotors after he has your car taken apart, and you are almost at his mercy. It is far better to start with a brake inspection, and get the estimate correct before beginning.
Another note on brakes, there is a large variation in quality between brake pads and shoes, just like there is with tires. The more expensive linings will stop you in less distance than the cheaper ones, and will be quieter while they work. If these things are important to you, It would be a poor place to scrimp on price.
Larry DeHays is an ASE certified Automotive Technician, owner of DeHays Automotive, of Ft Myers Beach, and an Arbitrator with the Florida Lemon Law Program.
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