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How Much Does It Cost to Replace My Car’s Brakes?

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There’s nothing that disrupts a monthly budget quite like unexpected auto repairs. Brake replacement is one of those repairs which can sneak up on you, if you’re not careful.

If you have an auto repair fund or emergency savings, you may be able to take care of the unanticipated costs of a brake replacement without putting too much strain on your bank account. However, if you haven’t set aside money for surprise vehicle expenses, you could find yourself in a financial bind.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article we’ll break down:

Car brakes: Your cost to repair or replace

When you need to replace your car’s brakes, there’s often a series of parts and costs involved in the process. Understandably, this variance leaves many car owners feeling quite confused.

If you’re trying to grasp how much you’ll need to pay for brake system repairs, it’s helpful to look at these costs separately. Doing so may help you better understand how much money you’ll need to pay, depending on exactly which parts need to be replaced on your vehicle.

Here are a few of the fees commonly associated with brake repair costs, according to, a mobile auto repair service; the numbers are up to date as of April 2019. Your individual costs will vary on factors such as your car brand and model, your location and who you go to for repairs. You can look up repair estimates for your car using this tool from NAPA Auto Care Center.

Part Replacement cost (low) Replacement cost (high)
Brake caliper $168.34 $827.61
Brake drum $211.54 $911.04
Brake hose $125.53 $275.74
Brake master cylinder $123.50 $792.76
Brake pad $112.56 $432.18
Brake rotors/discs $201.21 $1,057.68
Brake system flush $81.77 $103.24
Brake vacuum pump $150.26 $928.37
Brake wheel cylinder $96.14 $286.67


Unless you run into some really bad luck, you probably won’t need to replace all of these parts at once — still, knowing a ballpark cost for these parts could help you plan ahead.

Researching mechanics in your area

Your final brake repair costs will vary based on several factors. Details including the make and model of vehicle you drive and the brand of brake pads you choose can have a big influence on your final price.

It helps to work with a reputable mechanic who can advise you on the services you need and the parts you should replace to keep your vehicle in good repair.

Of course, finding a good car mechanic you feel comfortable hiring isn’t always easy. There’s a good chance you’ve either personally felt taken advantage of by a mechanic at least once in your life or you know someone who’s had a bad experience with one.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a fair and honest mechanic to hire when your vehicle needs repairs. If you do your homework and ask the right questions, you could discover a hidden treasure — a trustworthy and fair mechanic shop for your vehicle repairs.

Since independent mechanic shops will often charge around half the price you’d pay at a dealer service department for repairs, a good mechanic is a valuable find.

5 steps to choosing a mechanic

The Federal Trade Commission recommends these five steps when you look for a vehicle repair shop:

  1. Ask other people you know and trust for recommendations.
  2. Don’t wait until the last minute to look for a mechanic, but research your options before you need auto repairs.
  3. Do your homework by checking online (and via phone) for the best deals.
  4. Check to see if a repair shop is licensed and registered (if required by state/local law).
  5. Look for any records of complaints with your state Attorney General’s office.

You can also check with the Motorist Assurance Program to see if the nonprofit group endorses a vehicle service center in your area.

Covering the cost of car repairs

Have you ever been caught off guard by a car repair bill? If so, you’re not alone. A recent survey from AAA finds that one-in-three drivers — some 64 million Americans in all — doesn’t have enough money set aside to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair. A Consumer Reports survey also reveals that vehicle owners reported paying between $315 to $1,125 per year in maintenance and repair costs, depending largely on the type and age of the vehicle owned.

Of course, when you need to repair a vehicle, it’s best to cover those costs with cash, if you can. Doing so helps you avoid stacking interest fees on top of an already expensive repair bill.

Unfortunately, if you don’t already have emergency savings to rely on, you may have to finance the cost of your vehicle repairs. Rather than beating yourself up for being unprepared, it’s better to do some research and find out the least expensive way to cover the cost now.

Here are three funding options to consider if you need to go into debt to pay for auto repairs.

Funding option What it is Who it’s good for
Personal loan A personal loan is an unsecured installment account which allows you to borrow money and pay it back over time, at a fixed rate and a fixed payment. Taking out a personal loan to cover vehicle repairs may be a good choice for people with good credit who want to secure a lower interest rate and avoid having to put down collateral to secure a loan.
Credit card Use an existing credit card or apply for a new unsecured card to cover the cost of your auto repair. Using a credit card for auto repairs may be a good fit for people who know they can pay back the debt quickly.
Payday alternative loan Some credit unions offer a form of financing known as payday alternative loans. Like payday loans, these alternative loans are issued for small dollar amounts and feature shorter payback cycles. These loans may be a good fit for people with credit problems who need to borrow money quickly but want to avoid predatory title and payday lenders and their exorbitantly high interest rates.

Personal loan

A personal loan is a diverse type of financing which can be used for many different reasons, including vehicle repairs. For borrowers with good credit, a personal loan may be a less expensive financing option when compared with a credit card.

LendingTree’s marketplace has personal loans with rates starting as low as 2.49% for borrowers with excellent credit. In general, the better your credit, the better the rates and terms you’ll be offered from lenders. That said, the reverse is also true; if you have poor credit, you may only qualify for high rates, if you’re able to qualify at all.

Because a personal loan is considered an installment account, another plus of using this type of financing is that your loan balance shouldn’t inflict credit score damage like a heavily utilized credit card might do.

Credit card

Using a credit card to cover your auto repair bill can be convenient, especially if you already have a card with enough available credit to cover the cost. However, there are two potential issues you need to be aware of before you choose this financing option.

  • Interest fees can add up quickly if you’re not able to pay off the balance right away.
  • If you utilize a high percentage of your available credit card limit, it could damage your credit scores.

Ideally, you should only put a car repair charge on a credit card if you know you’ll be able to pay off the balance quickly. If you have strong credit, however, you may be able to open a credit card with a promotional 0% interest rate. Pay off your balance in full before the promotional period ends, and you’ll avoid interest charges on your car repairs.

Payday alternative loan

It can be hard to qualify for financing when you have bad credit, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. Bad credit also doesn’t mean you’re automatically stuck with a payday or title lender either.

When you have bad credit, the best places to look for financing options may be credit unions or online lenders. A credit union is owned by its members, and thus is more likely to have your best interests in mind when it comes to rates and fees. An online lender, on the other hand, doesn’t have the overhead costs that traditional banks do. That means they may offer more competitive rates and terms.

However, you shouldn’t expect to qualify for the lowest rates or best terms from lenders when you have bad credit. Some credit union payday alternative loans feature interest rates in the 20% range or higher. Bad credit loans from online lenders can feature interest rates exceeding 30% or more as well.

Nonetheless, these loans are still a far better choice than turning to a payday lender with average APRs of 391%.

Planning ahead for the future

It costs more to own and operate a vehicle than most people realize. In fact, your vehicle is likely one of the biggest expenses in your monthly budget. In addition to your car payments and insurance premiums, your vehicle comes with fuel costs, registration fees and, of course, maintenance and repairs costs.

According to AAA, the average car owner in 2018 paid over $8,400 per year in vehicle operating and ownership costs. And if you own a larger vehicle or drive more than 15,000 miles per year, your costs may be higher than average.

It pays to plan ahead and create an emergency fund you can use for maintenance and repairs. If you need to borrow for repairs now, consider the following. Once you borrow, pay your debt down as aggressively as possible (especially if you charged the repairs on a credit card).And even after you’ve paid off the debt, keep making those same monthly payments to yourself.

You already know you can afford the payments, because you’ve been making them to a lender. By making payments to yourself (and perhaps stashing the money in a high-yield savings account), you can build a solid vehicle/emergency fund for the future.


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