What do you do when you need to replace brakes on your auto? The dealer (factory) option garners higher parts and labor costs with general expertise and low turnover of technicians. The brake specialist usually offers a flat cost for parts and labor which is an average (high for the low end, and low for the high end) with specific expertise, but often higher turnover of technicians. The local mechanic will often use non-factory parts and average (covers oil to engine changes) labor costs with general expertise and lower turnover of technicians. Self repair should provide lowest retail parts cost and zero labor assuming a measure of expertise, and no turnover.

How do you make the best choice?

With each of the options above, you want to feel you are being treated fairly. If you can not perform self repair, you must choose one of the first three options. Each of these options has its limitations and temptations. If you can perform self repair, you can lower your costs of parts and labor significantly, sometimes by a factor of 10 or more. Self repair is your best choice! Especially, when you rarely need to bleed brake lines, disconnect and reconnect brake lines, drain brake reservoirs, repair drum brakes, or cut rotors. Let’s take a look at two actual examples.

Rear brakes 2004 Chevrolet Aveo

The Aveo is a front disc/rear drum equipped vehicle. During a state inspection, the dealer failed the rear drum brakes at a cost to the customer of $245.00. Drum brakes are more difficult to change than disc or rotors, but not enough to justify this price tag. A quick call to the parts store revealed $25.00 cost to the customer for the new brake shoes. I did not have the correct size socket to remove and tighten the axle nut, so I bought one for $11.00.

Overcharging for brake work is a pet peeve of mine, and I charge $25.00 if less than 90 minutes, and $35.00 if over 90 minutes per axle. In this case, MOM was the customer, so I changed the brakes for free, making her cost $25.00 for the parts. How many of you could use an extra $225.00?

P.S.>>>>>The brake specialist available options were $109.95, and $95.99, parts and labor per side. The local mechanic estimate was about $220.00, but he could not get to it for a week and a half.

Front brakes 2005 Subaru Baja

This is an All Wheel Drive front/rear disc brake vehicle. Last year, a friend told me he paid $880.00 at a dealership a year ago to replace all four rotors and brake pads. He couldn’t afford such an expense in the next year. I had him have his brakes checked, and they were verified as all good. For peace of mind, we checked prices on parts, and found it would be less than half.

Last week, he told me his front passenger brake was squealing. I had him have his brakes checked, and the front passenger brakes were metal on metal. Tomorrow, we will change his front brakes, only, at a cost of $150.00 parts, and $25.00 labor. If we were changing front and rear brake pads and rotors, the customer cost would be $350.00 parts and labor. How many of you could use an extra $530.00?

P.S.>>>>>The brake specialist option was about the same as for the Aveo above with the caveat ‘AWD may cost more’. The local mechanic estimate was about $275 parts and labor, but he could not get to it for a two weeks.

Is self repair for you?

It should be. Using the Internet websites, videos, chat, and online expertise, YOU can self repair brakes in no time!

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