How much should brakes cost to fix?
by Corey
in Blog
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Although there are many variables with brake repair and the cost can be different in other states we will for this article focus on the cost of brake repair on the Sunshine Coast, so let's look at the braking system first.

The brake master cylinder is pretty much where the braking starts so by applying pressure to the pedal through a rod this pressure transfers to a fluid filled master cylinder (brake fluid) which compresses a piston and forces fluid out of smaller holes then through pipes and hoses to feed the front or rear brakes.

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Attached to the master cylinder is a brake booster (actually it is positioned behind the master cylinder) and works to increase the the braking performance via engine vacuum, essentially as the brake is applied this booster does exactly that to the braking system, if you have ever tried to brake while the engine is not running you will realize how effective the booster is, not a particularly common part to fail but if you feel like extra effort is required on the brake pedal this could be the problem.

From here the compressed brake fluid will travel to either the front or rear brakes, most modern cars are now disc brakes front and rear but there are also drum brakes which where and in some cases still are fitted to the rear of vehicles.

Let us look into how a disc brake system works, again this the most common type of brake set up, fluid travels from the master cylinder through the lines and into the brake caliper, the compressed fluid then pushes on a piston that then clamps the brake pads to the rotor, the harder the brake pedal is pushed the more pressure is applied to the brake pads, the rotor is turning with the wheel so the pressure applied to the caliper then to the brake pad will slow the vehicle. The brake pads will generally wear out quicker than the rotor but modern European vehicles will wear the rotor just as quickly.

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Brake Caliper

The brake caliper essentially works the same way as most of the hydraulic components in the system by way of hydraulic pressure moving a piston and applying pressure to the brake rotor, calipers can leak and need to be overhauled, also the piston seal can become damaged as the piston is pushed back while replacing the brake pads so there can be a situation where as brake pads are being replaced the caliper can start leaking, this is an unfortunate situation and will increase the cost of pad replacement substantially. a brake caliper overhaul can cost between $200-400 and upwards.

Brake drums kind of work in a similar way but use shoes clamping a drum rather than pads clamping a rotor, the fluid comes in through a wheel cylinder as opposed to a caliper and pushes two small rods out to clamp the shoes to a moving brake drum, and again the more pressure applied the more braking will occur. wear will occur firstly on the softer brake shoe material and somewhat lesser on the brake drum. The wheel cylinders will also wear by leaking internally past the seals.

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A.B.S Units are maintenance free and are mostly quite reliable, they work by a pump that literally pushes the brake pedal back towards the drivers foot when a locked brake is detected and will keep the wheel moving without locking the brake, a problem with this unit will generally be undetected so a light will illuminate on the dash to warn the driver of a problem with the pump or unit, if the A.B.S light is displayed on the dash the unit will not work and should be taken to a workshop.

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Brake lines and hoses can also require replacing from time to time, we find often with vehicles that launch boats into salt water the rear brake pipe will corrode from outside in, this can be very dangerous as when the pipe completely corrodes out the brake fluid will leak out and compromise brake performance, rubber flexible hoses join the steel pipes at the caliper and these can split and break down over time.

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The costs of course can and will vary but in very general terms there are a few possibilities.

Brake pad replacement Sunshine Coast - The brake pads have worn out which means the brake material has worn down to a point where the pads need to be replaced, this is now a case of removing the wheel and the caliper and replacing the brake pads on both sides (brake are always replaced as a pair across the same axle) this could cost anywhere from $160.00 to $300.00 and upwards, the higher cost comes with later model vehicles, S.U.V and four wheel drives, also on some vehicles a brake pad sensor will need to replaced (this sensor illuminates a warning light on the dash and is a low brake pad warning light as pictured below)


 Image result for worn brake pads

Image result for low brake pad warning light

Brake rotor replacement or machining- Whenever the brake pads are replaced it is recommended that the brake rotors be machined or replaced, this will bring the rotor to a smooth even finish and help with the bedding in of the new brake pads, ( At Service Brakes Tyres we road test and bed the new brakes in), some indicators that your rotors require machining would be a pulsation or vibration through the steering wheel or the seats under braking that is worse when braking heavily or down a hill, to have this vibration present and not machine the rotors while changing the brake pads is false economy and not recommended, when the rotors become too thin to machine they will need to be replaced, the reason for this is the metal material wears away due to braking and the rotor can not dissipate enough heat, the cost of new rotors has in fact come down but can still cost between $70.00 to $300.00 and upwards.

Image result for brake rotors being machined

Rear brake shoe replacement.

The time brake shoes take to require replacing is a lot longer than brake pads so even though the coast can be higher it will be far less frequent, brake shoes take more time to replace than brake pads and the price of parts is equivalent to pads, generally you could expect to pay around $150.00-$250.00 to replace, the rear brake drums should also be machined or replaced and machining costs can be around $80.00

Brake fluid replacement (Flush).

This is generally the least expensive item to have replaced as the fluid is relatively inexpensive and the flush takes only about 30mns , brake fluid attracts moisture and contaminates and will build up over time, as the system is sealed the fluid requires replacing about every year but can be more often in humid climates or with a lot of heavy braking as the heat can boil the fluid, this job will generally cost between $60-90 and is a worthwhile investment to prevent costly overhauls if the fluid becomes to contaminated. There are many types of brake fluid with the most popular being DOT-3 or DOT-4  fluid, the correct fluid to be used should be stamped on top of the brake master cylinder cap or in the log book. At Service Brakes Tyres we use Valvoline brake fluid.


Quality of brake components.

Another variance in price comes with the price of parts used, there are cheaper options for brake components in some cases, some European and S.U.V there will be only a high end option available such as Bendix and Bremtech (Used by Service Brakes Tyres) but on most vehicles a cheaper option can save money but does come with some issues, cheaper brake pads can produce more dust, more noise, wear rotors quicker and not last as long as more expensive parts. We recommend a mid range option for most vehicles if budget is an issue, very cheap online brake pads would not be a good option for any vehicle.

Image result for bremtec euroline



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