DIY vs Auto Shop Cost to Replace the Brake Pads and Rotors
Cars

DIY vs Auto Shop Cost to Replace the Brake Pads and Rotors

If your car produces a squeaking sound when you apply the brakes, it usually a warning sign from your brakes that you need to replace them. If you apply the brakes and it doesn't stop as well as normal this could indicates the rotors are slightly warped. 

It may be time to replace your brake pads and rotors. How much will it cost?

The cost of replacing the brake pads and rotors is: 

  • About $150 per axle if you do it yourself plus tools and supplies you may not have. (It all depends on your car and the brakes and rotors you get. It could be $75 or $250 per axle.)
  • About $350 per axle at an auto shop. (It all depends on your car and the brakes and rotors you get. It could be $225 or $500 per axle.)

It's usually best to replace the brakes and rotors together. Every time you get new brakes they need to be flush with the rotor surface and new brake pads aren't. That mean it would be unsafe to drive with them unless you grid down the rotor or get new ones.  

Brake Pads and Rotors

The brake rotor utilizes the pressure created by the system of brake for stopping the car. For this, it uses heat and friction and generates momentum to stop power. The brake pads hold the rotor in place by riding on both sides of the rotor.

Rotors are used in front wheels may wear down faster in the front depending on the type of car you have. So you may just replace on set of brakes and rotors on one axle.

If you want to try replacing them yourself you can try by following the next few steps. 


Replacing Your Brake Pads and Rotors Yourself

You can replace you brake pads and rotors yourself if you want to. Here's a good video that give you step by step instructions on how to do it. 


Getting to Know Your Rotors

Brake Rotors can last a long time but it's a good practice to replace them with the brake pads because thin rotors can warp or get too hot and prevent a car from stopping. 

If the thickness goes below the minimum, they should be replaced; otherwise, it may also cause shaking of the driving wheel while applying the brakes.

The rotor is designed to hold a certain amount of heat which goes down when the rotor wears down. The overheating of rotors may crystallize the metal part of the rotor, thus creating a rattling sound while applying the brakes.


Replacement of Rotors Basics

car rotor

Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lpb3Zms1_eM

The bearing hub holds the brake rotors by means of mounting screws or clips, fitted on the stud of the wheel.

The first step is removing the screws by an impact screw driver and the sheet metal screws by a cutter. If the rotor is stuck because of rusting, hammer it to loosen it a bit. 

After removing the existing rotor, match it a new one and check the O.D, mounting offset and the location of the wheel stud.

By using a soft towel, wipe off the grease and dirt from the mounting surface of the hub of the bearing.

After aligning the rotor mounting screws and the wheel studs, put the rotor on the bearing hub. It should sit perfectly on the bearing hub.

Tighten them for installing on the mounting screws. But don’t tighten it excessively.


Servicing of Caliper Slide Pins Basics

Caliper Pins

Because of these pins, the caliper floats, being bolted to the mounting bracket which in turn makes the brake pads to wear evenly. If one caliper slide gets rusted, it may get stuck and may cause excessive wearing of the other pad.

Pull the pin outward by grasping the pin to make it come freely out of the bracket. If they are stuck, make use of a pair of pliers and vice. Make them move backward and forward to loosen and pull them out.

Clean all corrosion and dust from the pin by using a soft towel. You can also use a brush made of wire.

Then, lubricate both the pin with silicone lube and put them back to their original position on the same hole from which they have been pulled out.

Install the pin into the mounting bracket by twisting it so as to make them move freely, otherwise, they may wear out easily and cause grooves on them.

These grooves can make the caliper come to a hanging position. This will lead to uneven wearing of brake pads.


Installation of the New Brake Pads Basics

brake pads

Brake pad components may be semi-metallic, organic, or ceramic. They have different wearing characteristics.

Before installing a new pad, match it with the old ones to ensure that the backing plate of the brake pad is identical.

Some original pads come with rattle clips. If the new pads do not have, transfer the older ones to the new ones. Otherwise, they will create clicking or popping sound when the brake is applied.

Install the caliper slides over the brake pads. Ensure that the piston is entirely retracted into the caliper.

Push the slides into the mounting bracket and tighten the bolts, one after the other. After opening the hood, locate the master cylinder and add best brake fluid to its full level.

After completing the brake service, recheck the operation of the brake pedal. Push the brake pedal downward, slowly and allow it to touch the floor and allow it to come back up slowly.

Don’t pump the brake quickly. After performing this cycle five to seven times, ensure that the brake pedal has the normal pressure.

To check that the brake pads have mated to the rotor, take your car for a test drive and apply the brake gently while making easy stops.

Release the pedal momentarily and apply it once again while stopping.


Brake Fluid?

You won't need new brake fluid but if you do somehow need it make sure you get the right kind.  

According to the viscosity, the brake fluids are categorized by the Department of Transportation to three classes, namely DOT 3, DOT 4 and DOT 5.

  • DOT3 is Glycol Ether Based and can absorb water from the atmosphere. It is beneficial to use because it has a high boiling point and a lower molecular weight. It is most economical for meeting to government standards
  • DOT4 is glycol-ether-based and can also absorb water from air and should, therefore, be least exposed to the air
  • DOT5 does not absorb water and has lower chances of corrosion

Final Thoughts

Replacing the brake pads and rotors is cheaper if you do it yourself (DIY). It's a good idea to replace both pads and rotors at the same time. You can do a complete brake pad and rotor replacement yourself if you have the tools and confidence. 

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