How much does it cost to repair car brakes?
It’s almost impossible to put into words just how important functioning brakes are for your car. They are arguably the most essential safety feature: a loose or slightly less responsive brake can have you and your passengers in quick danger. All the more reason, then, to have your brakes serviced regularly, and to keep an eye (or ear) on any potential issues. By the end of this article you will be seriously informed on the ins and outs of car brake repair, including:
- The different parts of a standard braking system
- What causes car brakes to act up
- Signs that your brakes may be in trouble
- How much it costs to repair car brakes
What are the different components of a car brake system?
While all brake systems have slight differences, they are generally made up of the same main parts:
The pedal, which, when pressed by the driver’s foot, moves a piston located in the master cylinder;
- The master cylinder, which handles the wheels and controls the pressure of the hydraulic fluids;
- The brake booster, a shell divided into two chambers that allows air to pass through one of the valves, amplifying foot pressure;
- Drum brakes located on the rear wheels that use brake shoes and a pushrod to transfer motion and slow down;
- Disc brakes typically located on only the front wheels, made up of a caliper and piston that squeeze brake pads on a disc rotor to slow down the vehicle;
- A hand brake;
- An anti-lock, which detects locked wheels (this happens during panic braking) and pumps the brakes;
- A proportioning valve that reduces pressure going to the rear brakes and distributes the force evenly.
What causes problems for car brakes?
As reflected in the list above, car brakes are made up of many complex mechanisms that must be working smoothly to ensure your safety.
Extensive wear and tear is the worst thing that can happen to your car brakes and will cause a tonne of problems, which is why we recommend you get them inspected and serviced regularly. Worn-out brake pads or rotors and poorly lubricated drum brakes are just some of the common issues that can arise if your brakes have been ignored for some time. If you don’t drive your car regularly enough this can also cause issues, like rusting and corroding brake parts.
Severe rotor damage can occur when the brake pads have been allowed to wear out, and this is not a position you want to find yourself in: rotor repairs are time-consuming and labour-intensive, which will be reflected in your bill.
What are the warning signs of a faulty brake system?
Your brakes will let you know when something is wrong, but often the biggest red flags signal that it’s too late to avoid costly repairs—so, just to reiterate, have your brakes inspected often! Below are the most common signs that your brake system is failing.
Ominous, unusual noises, like squealing, screeching, or grinding.
These terrible sounds indicate worn-out brake pads; if it’s more of a grinding, this may mean that the drum brakes are not lubricated well enough.
A soft brake pedal.
This likely flags a leaking master cylinder. The master cylinder contains brake fluid, which is not being properly transmitted throughout the braking system and therefore creating a soft brake pedal.
Shaking steering wheel.
If your steering wheel feels like it’s vibrating when you apply the brakes, it suggests that your rotor has become jagged, which happens over time. In this case, the rotor’s surface needs to be levelled by a mechanic.
Car naturally drifts to one side.
This is a big red flag that something is wrong with your brake system, but it could mean a few different things. The most common problem, however, is a faulty caliper. Calipers typically become defective when the piston has stalled from rust/corrosion. If the fluid pressure can’t successfully move the piston, the brake pads will experience an uneven distribution of pressure and will cause you to pull to one side more than the other.
If your tyres are emitting noxious, pungent smells, or the brake warning light comes on, it goes without saying that you need to take your car to the mechanic as soon as possible.
How much does car brake repair cost?
The cost of car brake repair will vary depending on a variety of factors. Here we have itemised some of the most common repairs—more often replacements—your car brakes may need.
A replacement caliper for one wheel costs between $250 and $750; the range of price depends on your car’s make and model, and the type of replacement caliper used. It’s usually a good idea to repair calipers in pairs to ensure the brakes are even, and possibly the brake pads as well.
To replace brake pads it can range from $130 to $400 per axle; the cost is again subject to your car’s design and the type of brakes you have. In some cases you may need to replace the brake pads along with the rotor. To replace the pads and the rotor simultaneously it can start in the $300 to $350 range and go up to $600 and over, depending on the exact nature of the replacement.
A high-end performance car often has a bigger, complex brake system, so if you own a vehicle such as this it will cost upwards of $1000.
To avoid grave issues with your car brakes down the road, be proactive with technician assessments and services, and look out for the warning signs. While many of them indicate that it’s too late for an easy fix, as soon as you see the brake light on the dashboard pop up you might get it sorted before any huge problems. Use DingGo’s quick quotes service for reliable and mobile support.