Brakes are central to a vehicle’s safety, yet many drivers let misinformed frugality grab the steering wheel when it comes to maintaining or repairing this essential automotive system.
In our continuing series on bargain pricing vs. true value, this month we look at brake service. And while an $89.99 brake job might seem like a real bargain, it often winds up being a costlier proposition in the long run.
How? Central to the problem is the tendency for the bargain-focused guys to use the cheapest parts available, which wear out faster. This means you’re paying to redo pads and rotors more often, which ultimately costs more money than paying a little more initially for a quality job — one that often lasts twice as long.
The budget myth
These “budget” brake jobs aren’t quiet, either. They squeal and squeak while leaving unsightly excess brake dust on wheels and rims.
By contrast, CARS’ approach is to use higher-quality parts. For example, our rotors are made of higher-quality metal and feature a better surface finish, which translates not only to the “cosmetic” factor of reduced noise, but also the vital safety feature of shorter stopping distances.
This is because the superior surface finish allows the brake pads to seat better on the rotors, allowing the two to work better together. It also means they operate at cooler temperatures, preventing brake fade and preserving the brake fluid, which deteriorates at high temperatures.
Quality rotors also contain more cooling fins, which prevents the rotors themselves from overheating. Cheaper alternatives often overheat and warp, which creates a pulsating brake pedal. In addition, the high-quality rotor’s anti-corrosive surface helps prevent rusting.
Another benefit CARS provides is cleaning and lubricating calipers, which should be part of any brake job. If this step is ignored or done improperly, the calipers can stick or seize, causing uneven and premature brake pads wear. Our brake pads feature a high ceramic content, which lasts longer, impedes dust, heats up less, maintains quiet performance and features improved stopping.
If excessive noise or poor stopping performance isn’t enough to dissuade you from purchasing brakes on the cheap, perhaps a pesky and persistent dashboard light will do the trick.
Cheap rotors can cause some vehicles’ anti-lock brake (ABS) light to illuminate. On some vehicle applications, the ABS ring is built into the rotor. The ring on cheap replacement rotors often fits improperly, triggering the ABS light. Inexperienced technicians many times will mistakenly diagnose the problem as a faulty ABS sensor and replace it. The customer gets hit with a charge for diagnosis, a new part and labor. Of course, the ABS light will re-trigger, prompting yet another trip to the shop in a frustrating merry-go-round.
CARS is with you even after you leave our shop. We truly stand behind our work and our parts with a lifetime repair warranty on calipers, and we guarantee your brake pads and rotors—which are wear items—will last as long as or longer than the parts we replaced. Our insistence on using quality parts often has drivers far exceeding that time/mileage.
When that urge to go the cheaper route takes hold, hit the brakes and weigh the true costs.