Properly maintaining your brakes is one of the most important aspects of vehicle care. After all, without brakes, your car will be unable to stop, resulting in a dangerous crash. Surprisingly, the cost of brake repair and maintenance is lower that what you might expect. By paying attention to the behavior of your vehicle, you can solve brake problems before they get costly, and more importantly, deadly.
While driving your vehicle, occasionally turn off your radio and listen to your car. If you detect a grinding sound coming from any corner of your vehicle while braking, or a rough feel coming from your brake pedal, it's likely that you need a brake pad replacement, at the very least. It's important to take care of this problem early. Putting off a repair will lead to additional problems, such as broken rotors or loss of pressure in your brake fluid lines, compromising your safety.
If you do detect a light grinding noise or feel while braking, a brake pad replacement is probably in order. If you're handy with basic repairs, you can do this replacement yourself. Head to your local auto parts store and ask for brake pads for your vehicle. Basic pads will cost around $15 per wheel. It's important to purchase pads as a pair. You want your brake pads to wear evenly, so even if your front left pad is worn, replace the front right pad as well.
If you've neglected to replace your brake pads quickly enough, or if you've gone through several pad replacements, your brake rotors might need to be replaced as well. Rotors will cost between $30 and $60 per wheel. This repair can be done at home as well, though a bit more work is required than in a simple pad replacement. If your brake rotors haven't been rotated or replaced in a while, they might be fused to the internals of your wheel.
Brake Repair at a Service Center
If you bring your vehicle to a service center, expect to pay anywhere from $150-$1,000 for a brake job. This will depend on the condition of pads, rotors, and brake lines, as well as the labor costs of the service staff. If you're afraid to attempt the repair yourself, this will be your only option. Be sure to act like you have experience with brake repairs when talking to the service rep. This will help in avoiding being overcharged.
Functional brakes are extremely important to your safety. If you aren't confident that you can repair your brake system yourself, be sure to have the repair job done at an authorized service shop. Saving a hundred dollars is simply not worth risking your life or the lives of others on the road.