Brake Job:

A professional brake job isn’t for everyone. For some, tinkering under the hood of a car is a good way to spend a weekend, or a whole year of weekends. If you’re one of those people, click the DIY tab for tips and advice on fixing your brakes yourself.

For all of you who’d prefer someone else fix your car, read on. Here are five helpful tips to help you zero in on the right pro and only spend what you need to spend.

The mechanics in the shop are ASE certified.

Before you get brake job, be aware of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). It’s  the major certifying body for automobile mechanics in the United States. It’s not easy to be ASE certified. Only 66% of mechanics that take the test pass the first time. Plus, in addition to passing the exam, mechanics need two years of on the job training or one year of training and a degree in automotive repair to be certified.

It takes a lot of time and effort to pass the test and those that do have proven their commitment and ability. Why take your car to someone who hasn’t earned certification?

The shop has positive reviews.

Yelp, Repair Pal and Angie’s List are all great places to read about mechanics in your area. Neighbors, co-workers and friends may also have good advice, but before you go anywhere, take a look at what random people say about the shop. There will always be a few negative reviews (some people are never satisfied) but if the vast majority of people give it a five-star rating, you’ve probably found a good place to get a brake job.

The shop is clean, organized and busy.

Even if the mechanic’s a mess, the shop shouldn’t be. Like any professional, good mechanics want their tools and workspace to be neat. That means the floor will be swept (though there will probably be oil stains) and you won’t see old parts or trash lying around. Turnover should be high with lots of customers coming and going. Most importantly, you should expect to be treated courteously without your baloney meter going off.

You know what the brake job includes.

Whether you’re having your brake pads or master cylinder replaced, the shop will give you a specific quote that includes both parts and labor charges. With it, you should also see something in writing that states you’ll be contacted before any work not on the original is performed.

If the shop calls during the repair and informs you of another problem, don’t automatically dismiss it. No one wants to pay for unnecessary work. But if you’ve done your homework and trust the shop then they’re most likely recommending something you’ll have to do in the near future anyway. For example, if you’re replacing your brake pads and they call to tell you that you need new rotors it’ll be cheaper in the long run to do both repairs at the same time.

You don’t feel ripped off.

It goes without saying that the brake job prices vary between makes and models. However, here are a few rules of thumb on costs of having a mechanic or service center do the work:

  • Replacing only your brake pads and hardware can cost between $125 and $300 per axle.
  • Replacing  your pads, hardware, and rotors costs between $225 and $450 per axle.
  • A complete brake job of new pads, hardware, rotors, and calipers can cost between $300 and $800 per axle.
  • It’s a good idea to service both sides of an axle at the same time to keep brakes balanced.
  • One way to save is to buy the parts and then give them to the mechanic.