Your brake system is made up of several components, all of which need to be maintained and repaired. These parts work together to safely stop your vehicle when you press down on the brake pedal. While there is some variation across different vehicle models, most brake systems include:
- Brake lines: Most cars have a hydraulic system that uses fluid to transfer the pressure applied to the pedal to the brake. Brake fluid is stored in the master cylinder and moves to the calipers through the brake lines.
- Brake pads: Made from steel with friction material attached to the surface, the brake pads press against the rotor and create the friction necessary to slow and stop the car.
- Rotors: The rotor, which is bowl-shaped and attached to the wheel, takes kinetic energy and turns it into thermal energy, which is then absorbed and dissipated.
- Calipers: Calipers squeeze the brake pads against the rotors to slow and stop the car.
All of these parts can wear down over time, making them less effective — and making it more difficult for your car to brake safely. Some of the signs that you need brake repair include:
- Vibration: If you drive at 30 mph and feel vibration when applying your brakes, your rotors may be warped. Your brakes need to be inspected at the first sign of vibrations or pulsing sensations while braking.
- Pulling: If your vehicle pulls to one side when you brake, the pads have worn unevenly.
- Grinding: If you can hear grinding, the pads have completely worn away, and the rotors are damaging each other.
- Squealing: An indicator called a shim is part of your brakes and creates a squealing sound when the pads get too thin.
- Fading: If your brakes feel spongy or like they’re sinking when you apply them, there’s an issue with your brake fluid.
Any of these symptoms can mean it’s time to take your vehicle in for inspection. Brake problems are a major safety issue, so it’s important to get these issues checked right away.
How Much Does Brake Repair Cost?
While there’s no hard and fast rule about how much brake repair should cost, there are safe estimates you can refer to. Please be aware that the cost of brake repair can be influenced by your vehicle’s make or model, what you use your vehicle for and how often you drive.
Brake pads are the part of your brake system that most commonly need repair. 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. You can expect to pay between $30 and $200 per rotor and between $150 and $200 for the labor for each axle, for a total of between $250 and $500 per axle.
Calipers are the most expensive part of the brake system to replace. A single caliper can cost around $130. Complete brake repair that includes the pads, rotors and calipers can end up costing between $300 and $800 per axle.
Though it can be expensive to replace your brake system or get brake repairs, it’s a necessary part of being a responsible car owner. Avoiding vital maintenance on your brakes poses a risk to you and to other drivers on the road. You may save money in the short term, but you could eventually face massive expenses if you are responsible for a car crash because of faulty brakes.
Luckily, staying on top of your car’s recommended maintenance schedule is an easy way to save money. Routine vehicle maintenance allows an expert technician to inspect your car and identify potential issues before they become major headaches. This way, you’ll never have to worry about being surprised by expensive, unexpected repairs. Routine maintenance is also the best way to extend your car’s life for years to come.
If you’re experiencing grinding, squealing or soft brakes, make an appointment with a trusted mechanic today to stay safe on the road.
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