We get this call all the time. Everyone is in a hurry and everyone these days, including myself, we just want to get the information, make the best decision, get it done and move on with their lives.
I need brakes on my car, how much will it cost, asked the caller. Hmmm…Well that depends…..
All cars are different and all drivers drive their cars differently. Need and cost can vary greatly depending our customers’ actual needs and what their expectations are. There is no way any auto repair facility can give a proper estimate over the telephone for brakes, exhaust, diagnostic repairs, A/C repairs or electrical repairs, it’s impossible to know the condition of the vehicle or what it needs without looking at the vehicle. There are too many variables involved. The price between an Audi S4 or BMW 335i or a Honda Civic or Dodge Caravan also vary greatly. There are some services as auto repair experts we can quote over the phone with great accuracy, i.e., Oil Change Services, Tire Pricing (as long as we have the right size!), Wheel Alignments but for many services it is important to have the car on site to provide an accurate diagnosis and provide a proper estimate.
We can also do a much better as an industry communicating with our customers and focus more on our customers need for information and answer questions honestly to the best of our ability without looking at the car, provide ball park estimates and offer options based on need. We have to be honest though, most cars are going to REQUIRE front brake pads and new rotors every time and your brake job will cost $350-$500, depending on the car, let’s be honest!
So in order to better serve the needs of our customers we need to ask the proper questions and get honest answers from our customers.
Obviously we need the year, make and model of the vehicle. We need to know the “trim” package, i.e., is it and LX, EX or SE model. Wheel size sometimes matters and a VIN number is almost ALWAYS required to price and locate the correct parts.
But there are less obvious questions that need to be asked. How long do you plan on keeping the car? This is important because the quality and price of parts differs wildly. There are probably 10 different brake pads and rotors available for every application. We basically grade these parts from A to C range parts, “A” being the best and “C” being crap that you don’t want on your car (see Parts are Parts--link). Since brakes are a VERY important safety item on your car at Curry’s we generally always try to steer our customers to the “A” range brake parts. An “A” range brake pad and rotor will cost a little more in the short term, but will generally last longer, give you better performance, is of better construction and made from higher grade materials, not squeak or make other irritating noises and emit lower amounts of brake dust. “B” range brake parts however can be a great alternative for someone who is on a budget or may not be keeping the car very long. There are good quality B range parts out there, but there can be drawbacks whenever you compromise quality. But let’s face it, someone with a 10 year Toyota who is keeping their car for one year has different needs and wants than someone who has a one year old Toyota who is keeping it for 10 years!
How often do you drive the car? How many miles a year do you drive? And what kind of driving do you do?
So this is really three questions in one and all help us analysis our customers needs to help them solve their problem. If you rely on the car every day to drive 30 miles in bumper to bumper traffic each way to work, head home drive the kids to soccer and this is the family car you use to bring the family to church on Sunday, then you definitely would want to spring for the better quality brake pad and rotor. The money spent now will give you longer brake life, better performance and peace of mind. Plus you save time and money in the long run!
Is this is the third family car and the kids just use it to tool around the neighborhood and you take to the local grocery store sometimes? Maybe you’re only going to keep the car 3-4 years. You drive it maybe 10,000 miles a year? Well, the middle range brake parts may work awesome for you! You could save maybe 30% on the parts and although they may not last quite as long and produce a little more brake dust, this may serve your needs perfectly! Something to keep in mind though, you will be paying the same labor anyway, so maybe it’s better to spend a few extra bucks on the parts and get the good stuff.
“I want that $89 Brake job your competitors advertise!”
Actually, you really don’t…..in all honesty nobody is going to do an $89 brake job, they just aren’t out there, it’s a myth, a wives tale and downright dishonest. This is what we call a “lost leader” or more accurately a “bait and switch”. Here’s what happens most time when you go to a place advertising an $89 brake job:
You bring your car in because the brakes are squeaking and you see they have a coupon that looks like a good deal. The technician brings the car in and the Service Manager presents you with a brake estimate for new brake pads, rotors, possibly calipers and maybe a brake system flush. They give you the SHOCKING news, it’s going to cost $700 to fix your brakes!
Here’s the real deal…the brake pads they are going to use are still probably the crappy ones that they would have used if they did they ever did the $89 brake job, the “C” range part that don’t last and you don’t want, you get increased braking distance and they are prone to squeak, and you probably DO NOT need calipers. This is what we call CPR’ing, Calipers, Pads and Rotors…..this is a unfortunate practice in the automotive industry.
You do most likely do need rotors (read, Why Do I Need Rotors, below), you probably need a brake flush, which should be do every 2 years or 30,000 miles and new pads of course. At Curry’s Auto Service, we rarely replace or rebuild brake calipers, maybe only on 10% of the cars, brake calipers usually last much longer than pads or rotors since brake pads and rotors receive the majority of the friction and heat buildup. So instead of spending money on a set of calipers that you don’t need doesn’t it make sense to invest in a better brake pad and better quality of rotor? If you came to Curry’s that same brake job, WITHOUT the calipers but with premium quality brake pads and rotors may cost $550. You will be much happier!
So if we revisit the situation, the place advertising the $89 brake job is being blatantly dishonest, because they will never give you that price and they know you need rotors, but they get you to come in from the coupon and then out of fear and exasperation you pay for shit brake pads and calipers you don’t need. If you go to reputable shop like Curry’s, we will be honest with from the start and explain up front that you probably need brake rotors, your brake job will be performed by ASE certified and trained technicians, you will get top of the line quality parts and all work has a 3 year/36,000 Nationwide Warranty. And we will help you choose the best options for your particular needs. Plus we will offer our Show and Why Service, we will Show you What you need and Why you need it.
Why Do I Need New Rotors?
Most cars these days have what they call “discard” or “throw away” brake rotors. As car manufacturers find ways to reduce weight, cut costs, make cars more efficient, and because of technology and the fact that brake fiction material quality has increased over the years, brakes on todays vehicles are smaller than those of past generations. Because of this brake friction materials contain a massive amount of metals and brake get much hotter than they used to. Heat kills brakes! Brake rotors are generally smaller and thinner than they used to be and as the brake pad wears, so does the rotor. Over time the brake rotor gets warped, or slightly out of round because of heat buildup caused during the normal braking process. Drivers will often experience a vibration when braking or shaking when braking symptom. It used to be in the old days, when brake rotors were much thicker we could put them on a brake lathe to resurface or “turn” them. This process requires at least two “cuts” on the lathe to get a nice true, smooth surface to eliminate brake vibration and achieve great braking performance. As you resurface the rotor you are taking metal off of the rotor, making thinner and more susceptible to warp age. Today’s vehicles brake rotors are much thinner and by the time you resurface them they are at or below their discard limit. You will probably almost always need rotors when you replace your brakes, on most cars. If you don’t replace them, you can run into a host of problems down the road and incur more expensive repairs.
Ceramics—There are some exceptions to every rule. Many cars are using ceramic brake pads these days. Ceramic pads have much lower braking temperatures and are much more rotor friendly. Remember, Heat kills. BUT they are generally more expensive. Ceramic brake pads have additional benefits of reduce brake dust, longer life and better performance as well. At Curry’s Auto Service we use a ton of ceramic applications, especially on European and Import Cars. Most of the time you will still require rotors though!
Some cars even have Carbon Fiber rotors these days, mostly only on the SUPER CARS though!
At Curry’s Auto Service you can always bring your car on for FREE estimate for most services and we will also include our famous Curry’s Complete Vehicle Inspection at no charge. We offer our Show and Tell service, where we will bring you out to the shop and Show you what you need and Why you need it.
We will also offer you options based on your specific needs. There are many types and standards of parts. At Curry’s we only recommend the most trusted brands and have valued relationships with our trusted suppliers. All repairs come with an Industry Leading 3 year/36,000 Nationwide Warranty.