Replacing pads or shoes on your brakes is the most common brake repair. But a proper job should include a full inspection of all brake parts. Here are some recommendations: (Consumer Reports)
Installing new pad holders or shoe springs. That's inexpensive -- and important to reduce noise during braking.
"Turning" the rotors or drums. A lathe smoothes their surface to eliminate the grooves. Your mechanic may push this, but it's not necessary unless the surface is deeply scored; deep grooves in the rotors or drums reduce brake performance. All rotors have the minimum recommended thickness imprinted on them. Have your mechanic measure the rotor before turning it.
Flushing the brake system. Brake fluid gradually absorbs moisture from the air. Eventually, that can corrode brake components and reduce braking performance. Advice on drain intervals varies: Mercedes recommends two- to three-year intervals. BMW specifies two years, starting from the date of manufacture. Ford says the fluid in its new vehicle doesn't need draining for "the life of the car" -- interpreted by Ford as ten years or 150,000 miles -- under normal operating conditions. We suggest you follow the advice in your owner's manual.
Replacing the master cylinder or other hydraulic components. That's done to fix a spongy pedal or a brake-fluid leak. Signs of a leak include a fluid reservoir that constantly needs topping up and a brake pedal that sinks to the floor under steady, light pressure.
Lubricating the caliper guides. That's to prevent the calipers from "freezing," or locking up from rust. Frozen calipers make a car pull sharply and make the pads wear unevenly.
Replacing the calipers. This may be necessary if you haven't had the caliper guides lubricated regularly.
- Checking and adjusting the parking brake. That's a must after a brake job.
After the job is finished, you should break in the brakes. Brake gently for first 200 miles, avoiding panic stops if possible.
How Much Should You Pay?
Prices vary from car to car and shop to shop. Front pads alone range from $15 to more than $50, and labor can take from 45 minutes to more than an hour. For parts and labor, expect to pay $80 on up per set (front or rear), depending on what's needed.