A reasonable price for a brake job?
June 8, 2006 9:49 AM   Subscribe

A reasonable price for a brake job?

I need new front pads and rotors. I just went to a national chain in the Boston area and was quoted $450. (I walked out after the extremely aggressive hard sell for tires and other services) Is that a reasonable price? Should I hunt around for a better price? I know that pad replacement typically runs around $100. In my 15 years of driving, this is the first time I've never needed new rotors before, so I have no idea how much this should cost.
posted by zerokey to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
That's not horrible, but I'd find somebody you trust to do the work. Brakes aren't something you want done half-assed.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2006

Your price is going to vary based on area, if it's a metropolitan area, etc.
posted by cellphone at 9:55 AM on June 8, 2006

that sounds high to me. I think it's closer to $200 or so around here in chicagoland. the work should include pads and grinding the rotors.
posted by lester at 9:55 AM on June 8, 2006

do you need new rotors, or do you need your rotors ground down?
posted by advil at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2006

$450 for front pads and new rotors sounds reasonable, but it's hard to say for certain because depending on the make/model of your car, the rotor cost can be all over the place.

In any case, maybe a well established, local independent shop will be more pleasurable to deal with than a national chain (hard sell and all...).
posted by peewee at 10:01 AM on June 8, 2006

That sounds about average. Definitely find someone you trust to be knowledgeable and do the work correctly without completely screwing you over. Ask around with co-workers, friends, etc.

I've been trying to stay away from the chain stores, personally. I've had a bad experience with Midas where they replaced my front rotors/pads and the next morning, the brakes completely failed on me on rte 128. And what pissed me off more was that the manager really didn't find the whole thing that serious.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:05 AM on June 8, 2006

I've just purchased rotors and ceramic (expensive) pads through a local mechanic's shop which gave me the shop discount. it came to $125 for parts. The work itself takes about 1 hour for both wheels. So a reasonable price for what you're asking for is $250 to $350 dollars. Find a mechanic that doesn't talk down to you.
posted by ptm at 10:05 AM on June 8, 2006

Response by poster: I definitely need new rotors. The ones I have now are warped.
It's a 2002 Ford Focus.
posted by zerokey at 10:08 AM on June 8, 2006

The price on the rotors is going to vary depending on your car - what kind of car is it?

I've heard of the rotors for some German imports costing on the order of $300-400 each.

OTOH, the wholesale price for new rotors on my '97 Chevy Cavalier was like $30 CAD each.
posted by chuma at 10:09 AM on June 8, 2006

Response by poster: To add - the place I got the quote from was NTB in Woburn, MA.

The biggest reason I think the price sounds too high is that, during the hard sell on tires, they said the cheapest tires I could get were $150 each. I've had to replace the tires on this car too many times already (thank you Boston hidden potholes) , so I know I can get good tires in the $90 range.
posted by zerokey at 10:10 AM on June 8, 2006

Check around with other mechanics, Zerokey.

I recommend a Costco or BJs for tires. They're pretty good, and they usually fix them (or replace them in some cases) for free if you pick up a nail or whatever.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:38 AM on June 8, 2006

Rotors, which used to be a lot of money, have in the past few years become commodity items. You should expect to get a set of mid-grade, non-OEM aftermarket rotors for about 50-60 bucks. Pads are even cheaper.

To my mind (and I've changed brake pads at least 10 times in my life and done 1-2 rotor replacements, though I would not consider myself mechanically gifted in the slightest degree), $450 seems like a ridiculous amount of money for what amounts to about $100 worth of parts and 45 minutes of labor.

Get a second opinion, definitely.
posted by Chrischris at 11:13 AM on June 8, 2006

Replacing the front rotors and black pads on a Ford Focus is a half-hour job at worst. Any marginally competent mechanic should be able to do the job properly. Really. It's only slightly more work than changing a tire.
posted by malp at 11:17 AM on June 8, 2006

Napa online will tell you how much rotors will cost. For a 2002 ford focus (no sub model specified) I got the following:
Front Rotors for 2002 Focus
Anyway, your price ranges from $30 to $70 per rotor, depending on your submodel (LX - $29, ZTS - $65)
I remember paying ~$500, but that was with $150 /ea rotors

Good luck.
posted by defcom1 at 11:27 AM on June 8, 2006

Not sure on the cost, but l trust Ultima Ltd in Waltham, if you're looking for a comparison.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:43 AM on June 8, 2006

I just got new rear brake pads and rotors for $325, parts and labor included, for a 98 Pontiac Grand Prix in St. Paul.
posted by undertone at 12:11 PM on June 8, 2006

Replacing the front rotors and black pads on a Ford Focus is a half-hour job at worst.

OTOH, how long it takes is in a book somewhere, and has not much to do with reality. At least in most places, auto repairs like this are fairly regulated.
posted by smackfu at 1:19 PM on June 8, 2006

Response by poster: I wound up calling around - the lowest I could find was $350 - until I got to Meineke in Winchester. Guy quoted me $235 total. I rushed over there and he did the brakes in 45 minutes. When I told him how much other places were asking, his response, while waving his grease covered hand around was, "are you fucking shitting me? I bet none of their fucking mechanics have a spec of dirt on their hands. Never trust a clean mechanic."

I now have brakes!!

Many many thanks to everyone here for the advice. Just getting the cost expectation down to something reasonable saved me from making a huge mistake at one of the big places. Thanks!
posted by zerokey at 1:24 PM on June 8, 2006

I'm glad to hear you found someone to take care of you. $235 seems much more reasonable. I was able to change out my front rotors and front brake pads for around $85 bucks myself, and it took me about 3 hours total, which most of that was travel time, getting a wrench I didn't actually need.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you're mechanically inclined, it's much cheap to d.i.y.
posted by jackofsaxons at 1:29 PM on June 8, 2006

Response by poster: jackofsaxons - I considered doing it myself. I'm pretty mechanically inclined, but for some reason, I just didn't trust myself with this. Porbably because I was getting so panicky because the brakes were in such bad condition (and the massive rains here in MA and not having a covered place to do the work).
posted by zerokey at 1:34 PM on June 8, 2006

zerokey, last week, we went to a major chain in the Boston area with our Ford Escort and had been told our front rotors and pads needed to be replaced at a cost of $450. While looking for a cheaper price, you posted this question. We had the work done at the Meineke in Winchester this morning.

My fiancee thought I had posted this question at first and asked me about it. So, while I doubt you intended this question to apply to anyone else, it saved us a lot of money too. Thanks!
posted by cacophony at 11:31 AM on June 12, 2006

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