Although a simple brake pad replacement on the front wheels of most light vehicles should not take longer than about an hour (at most) several variable factors could influence the final cost of even a simple brake pad replacement. Below are some details of the most common variable factors that could influence the final cost-
The condition of the brake rotors
It is important to note that it is very rare for brake rotors to be in a good enough condition to be re-used when a set of brake pads have worn down on them. However, it is not always necessary to replace old brake rotors because in many cases the rotors can be resurfaced or machined to restore them to an almost-new condition.
Nonetheless, the cost of resurfacing brake rotors depends on whether the workshop can resurface them in-house with an on-car lathe, or if the rotors need to be removed from the vehicle and sent out to a specialist repairer. In-house resurfacing is almost always significantly cheaper than sending the rotors out, so be sure to enquire about this when you invite quotes to have your brake pads replaced professionally.
The cost of the brake pads
The cost of brake pads for any given application can vary significantly between vendors, and even more so when different brands are compared, but the retail price of brake pads should never be the only consideration when shopping for brake pads.
Since brake pads are life-and-limb parts, the guiding principle should always be quality and provenance over price. Put differently, this means that there is a direct correlation between the price and the quality of brake pads, so the more you pay for pads, the better the pads you buy are. Put simply, with brake pads you strictly get what you pay for, so it makes good sense to buy the best brake pads you can get, as opposed to buying the best brake pads you can afford.
The cost of replacing rear brake pads
Although rear brake pads and rotors typically outlast front pads and rotors by a wide margin, it may be necessary to use a scan tool to place the rear brakes into a “service mode” to remove the old brake pads if the vehicle is equipped with an electronic parking brake.
Since the use of a scan tool during repairs usually (although not always) comes at a higher price than the normal labour charge, it is worth getting a price estimate or quote that includes this additional cost before you commit to rear a brake pad replacement.
Local labour charges
It is worth noting that while some workshops will only charge you for the time it took to replace brake pads, other workshops have a minimum labour charge, which is usually an hour. This means that one workshop may charge you for one hour’s worth of labour to replace your brake pad, even though they may have spent only say, 35 or 40 minutes on the job, while another workshop may charge you only for the time they’d actually spent on the job.
The different ways that workshops charge for labour can have a noticeable effect on your final invoice, so be sure to check how labour charges are calculated at your chosen service provider before you commit to a professional brake pad replacement.
Based on the above, it is not possible to provide even a range of brake pad replacement costs that will apply to most, or even some situations. Therefore, we strongly advise you to shop around for the best deal that includes all possible variable costs that may apply to your particular vehicle and needs before you commit to a brake pad replacement that may cost more than you are willing or able to spend.