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Brake Pad Replacement - how much does it cost?

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Updated 24 Jan 2022

Joel Ilton

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How Much Does Brake Replacement Cost?

Brake prices vary between makes and models. An average car brake pad and disc rotor replacement usually starts around the $300-$350 and can go up to $600+, depending on what needs to be replaced.

If you own a high end or performance car with larger brakes, the price can increase to $1000+.

The braking system is one of, if not the most important system fitted to your vehicle. 

It requires constant maintenance to continue operating at its best.

The braking systems are subject to a number of problems. If left unchecked, it can cause expensive damage to your car and put you, your family and surrounding drivers in danger.

Checking of the brake pads, rotors (the shiny discs located behind your wheels) and the condition of the brake fluid at specified intervals, will ensure that the braking system is in safe working order and will continue to stop your car as designed.

Symptoms of Worn Out/Failing Brake Systems

  • Spongy brake pedal
  • Squealing or grinding noise when slowing down
  • Pedal travelling to the floor when applying pressure
  • Shuddering when slowing down, felt through steering wheel or body
  • Brake warning light on dash

Common Braking System Issues

Soft or Spongy Brake Pedal

One of the most common problems with the braking system, is contaminated brake fluid.

Brake fluid is a silicon based fluid which absorbs moisture from the environment over time. This reduces the effectiveness of the braking system and requires more braking effort to slow the vehicle to a stop.

Manufacturers recommend brake fluid replacement every two years, but depending on driving conditions, it may need to be replaced more often.

Vehicles fitted with drum brakes may also have a brake fluid leak from the rear wheel cylinders which will cause air to enter into the braking system, reducing the brake systems effectiveness and causing the brake pedal feel to become ‘soft and spongy’.

Excessive Brake Pad Wear

The brake pads and disc rotors are classed as wear and tear items and need to be replaced when the friction material of the brake pad has worn down excessively.

Depending on the vehicle and how much wear has occurred, the disc rotors may need to be replaced as well.

If the brake pads wear passed the friction material, the backing plate will hit the rotor, causing a grinding noise and significant damage to the brake rotor and possibly the caliper.

If you hear a grinding noise when slowing down, have your brakes inspected immediately.

Squealing Noise when Braking

If you hear a squealing noise coming from one of your wheels, especially when slowing down, it may mean that your brakes need to be replaced.

Most manufacturers fit brake wear indicators to the backing plate of their brake pads, so that when the friction material has worn down excessively, this will contact the brake rotor and cause a squealing noise to alert the driver that the brake system requires attention.

A squealing noise could also be caused by a rock or debris caught in the braking system.

If your vehicle is fitted with drum brakes, an excessive buildup of brake dust can also cause a squealing noise when slowing down.

If you hear a squealing noise when slowing down, have your braking system inspected as soon as possible.

Shudder When Slowing Down

Warped brake rotors can cause a shudder when slowing down, which can be felt through the steering wheel or the body of the vehicle.

Uneven brake pad wear or excessive heat from constant heavy braking, can cause the disc rotors to weaken and warp.

This will need to be either refaced or replaced, depending on the thickness of the rotor.

Commercial Vehicles and Older Vehicles

Some older vehicles and many commercial vehicles have drum brakes fitted to the rear axle.

Drum brakes are an older technology, where the braking components are located inside a metal drum.

When pressure is applied to the brake pedal, the brake shoes are forced into the drum to slow the vehicle down.

Brake Inspection
Our mechanics will inspect the braking system of your vehicle, including checking of the brake fluid for contamination, brake lines, and removing the wheels to measure the thickness of the brake pads, rotors or shoes (if applicable).

They will then quote up any repairs or replacement required.

Brake Replacement
If replacement is required, the mechanic will remove the worn or leaking braking components and supply OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) quality replacements.

The brake fluid will be flushed and replaced (If required). The new components will be correctly ‘bedded in’ to ensure proper operation.

Why It’s Important to Have Your Braking System Inspected or Repaired
Having your braking system inspected will give you peace of mind, that whenever you press the brake pedal, your vehicle will slow down and stop in a safe manner.

Operating a vehicle with a faulty or worn out braking system can be dangerous, as it may not stop when you apply the brakes, and cause an accident.

If you notice any of these symptoms, have your vehicle inspected by one of AutoGuru's 1,600+ qualified workshops, or have a fully certified mobile mechanic come to your house or office – Too Easy!

All data gathered in November 2016.

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Written By

Joel Ilton

Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.

After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.