How To Fix Your Brakes On A Budget

How To Fix Your Brakes On A Budget

Although many people put off costly car repairs, it is impossible to ignore the terrifying squeal of failing brakes. Every time you come to a screeching stop can feel like a constant reminder of the price tag that comes with the repairs. However, if your brakes start to feel “soft” or scream at the lightest pressure, it’s time to take your car to the mechanic. But, what happens if your emergency funds have run dry? Although it will still require an investment, here’s how you can stay under budget to fix your brakes.

What Is the Average Cost to Fix Your Brakes?

Before you have your brakes looked at, you should know how the repair shop will quote the work and have a general price range. However, the actual cost will vary greatly depending on their labor fees, the number of hours required, how many need to be replaced, and the extent of the damage. The longer you ignore the issues, the more components it will affect.

When the shop gives you an estimate, it is quoted by each axle. The final bill will be much cheaper if you only need to replace one. Unfortunately, the price will double if they need to repair both.

The average price will probably be around $300 – $500. But budget brake shops may start as low as $40 while the most expensive charge over $1,000. Hopefully, your quote will be on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

Here is a rough breakdown of what you can expect:

  • Brake Pads: $30-$75 per wheel/$60-$150 per axle
  • Rotors: $30-$75 per wheel/$60-$150 per axle
  • Calipers: up to $130 per axle
  • Labor: $50-$100 per hour

What Are the Cheapest Places to Have Your Brakes Done?

Based on the current market, these providers consistently offer quality service at the best prices. Each one will have slightly different rates for labor and parts. However, they frequently run discounts and promotional rates to help you save. And, they will typically guarantee their work and use parts that come with warranties.


Once you give them the make and model of your car, AutoZone can give you an exact estimate for the repairs. And, they use their top-of-the-line parts. Depending on what needs to be replaced, it will usually be between $300 and $1,000.

Jiffy Lube

Many car owners like Jiffy lube because they have quality parts and low prices. A simple brake job starts at $40, but more serious issues will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $500.


Many happy customers continue to have their work done through Firestone because of the good service and product warranties. They also offer competitive prices on brake repairs, ranging between $175 – $450 per axle.


Although their labor fees start at $80 an hour and complex jobs can cost nearly $1,000, Midas still has some of the most competitive rates.

Pep Boys

Pep Boys is another good option for budget brakes since they offer frequent discounts. You can expect an invoice ranging between $210 – $300 per axle.

Other Budget-Friendly Options to Fix Your Brakes

DIY Brake Replacement

While these retailers will give you a fair price, the cheapest way to fix your brakes is to do it yourself. So, if you can turn a wrench, you may want to consider this option. In addition to saving on the cost of labor, you can also look for the best prices on the parts themselves through sites like Rock Auto.

Phone a Friend

Another option would be to talk to people you know who are more mechanically inclined. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who would be willing to give you a hand or could refer you to a trustworthy mechanic.

Go Online for Cheaper Options

You may also be surprised to find how many capable mechanics offer their services through online marketplaces like Craigslist, Angi, Next Door, and Facebook. A quick search in my area brought up several local professionals who offer their services for about half of what the repair shops charge for their time.

From my encounters, many of them are people with experience working in garages but have since moved on to other careers. They have always done quality work at a fair price for me. However, there are always risks when you hire people from these sites. It’s easier for them to take advantage of unsuspecting people since they don’t have to guarantee their work or adhere to industry standards. So, I prefer to ask for a referral from someone I trust first.

How to Avoid Excessive Repair Fees

No one wants to be taken advantage of. To help you avoid excessive repair fees when you are shopping for budget brakes, here are a few tips.

1. Ask for an inspection report.

Even if you know what’s going on with your vehicle, ask for an inspection report before you commit to anything. Most places offer free estimates for their services. But, they will also sell you the report for future reference and quotes. This will come in handy if you want to shop around to compare prices.

2. Beware of scams.

One of the best proactive methods to prevent yourself from being taken advantage of is to stay informed. Before you visit any repair shop, read up on the commonly reported problems and quirks that are specific to your car. It will also make you appear more knowledgeable to the mechanic if you are already aware of these issues.

Furthermore, it will make you aware if they are trying to perform unnecessary repairs to drive up the bill. When the inspection report comes back, you shouldn’t receive a laundry list of unexpected issues. This is a major red flag.

Other indications that the shop may be trying to scam you is if they are vague with the costs and lifespan of parts or try high-pressure sales tactics to have you commit to the costly repairs right away.

3. Do your research.

As stated above, knowledge is your most powerful tool. The more informed you are, the more aware you become. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your vehicle and review the inspection report.

You can go online and look up the cost of the parts to make sure they aren’t overcharging you. Another idea is to call around to other shops to compare their rates. It never hurts to get a second or even a third opinion.

However, I believe the best resource is the customer reviews. Places that have hundreds or thousands of positive comments from their customers are usually a safe bet. If you spend some time sorting through them, you can surely find a reputable mechanic for a fair price.

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