Ever wonder how brake repair shops know what to charge for a brake service when they haven't inspected your vehicle? They don't. They either do a sub-standard brake repair to stay under their brake repair cost estimate, or they disassemble your vehicle then raise their initial low brake repair price. Do you want to trust your safety or wallet to those poor business practices?
We believe you can only tell what a brake job will cost after a simple, but thorough, inspection of the brake system. You really do get what you pay for...
There is a big quality difference in brake repair. At Stadium Auto Service in Ann Arbor, MI your vehicle's brake service will include:
Test Drive - Your vehicle is taken for a test drive to detect any brake problem.
Complete Brake Inspection - We remove all four wheels and visually inspect brake parts including the parking brakes. Check for vehicle computer brake error codes. The inspection results are documented.
Rotors Inspected and Measured - Thickness of all rotors is measured and verified to be within minimum thickness limits. Rotor runout is measured to check for overheating and warping which can cause brake pedal pulsation or the steering wheel to shake when the vehicle stops. The rotor vanes, or cooling fins, are checked for mud and rust. Clogged vanes could affect the rotors' ability to remove heat from the brakes and cause premature wear. The inspection results are documented.
Price Quote - The brake inspection results are explained to you in simple terms. An accurate written quote, not just an estimate, is given on what is required to do a safe, licensed auto repair technician approved brake repair.
Brake Fluid Replacement (if needed) - old brake fluid in the master cylinder, brake lines, and brake cylinders is flushed and replaced. This is very important to extent the life of expensive ABS brake system parts.
Wheel Hub Cleaning - Dirt and rust build-up is cleaned from the hub, bearings cleaned, inspected, and grease replaced (where required).
Brake Hardware - Cleaned, inspected, lubricated, or replaced when necessary. Important to the smooth function and longevity of brake parts (a common short-cut on low cost/quality brake service is to skip this).
Torque All Wheel Lugs - The wheels are put back on, each wheel nut is tighten to the proper specification. This is important to avoid brake vibration problems, brake shake, and brake chatter.
Test Drive After Repairs - Your vehicle is test driven by a technician to insure proper brake operation and brake pad break-in. This is our quality assurance inspection and insures a safe vehicle brakes.
After Repair Report - explanation of all work performed and parts replaced are displayed.
Why are Brake Repairs So Expensive?
- Brake parts usually last a long time. But when the brake pads are worn out many expensive parts need to be replaced all at once.
- For safety reasons brake repairs must be done correctly to be safe. There are no shortcuts or temporary fixes in brake service. Brakes need to be repaired correctly or the vehicle is not safe to drive. Nor will any legitimate, professional repair technician do an unsafe brake repair.
- The lack of regular brake inspections. Most vehicle owners wait until they have a brake problem before having a brakes inspection done. At that point many brake parts such as brake rotors, brake calipers, and other components are damaged or worn beyond their safe use. Periodic brake inspections can save you money.
How Brakes Work
When you press down on the brake pedal, brake fluid is sent from the master cylinder, located under the hood of your vehicle, through brake fluid lines (pipes) and flex hoses down to the brake calipers at each wheel. With hydraulics, the brake fluid causes the caliper, which holds two brake pads, to squeeze against the spinning brake rotor at each wheel. The clamping action of the brake caliper and brake pads creates friction and slows the vehicle.
Some vehicles have drum brakes. When the brake pedal is pushed, a brake wheel cylinder piston pushes the brake shoes against the brake drum. Same effect, just a different design.
Through use, the brake pad friction material and the surface of the rotor wear and need to be replaced. Other brake parts need to be cleaned, replaced and readjusted so they will last the life of the new brake pads.
Common Brake Problems
Brake problems are more critical than ever. Brake systems have become very complex and need careful maintenance. Anti-lock brake (ABS) systems are comprised of complex electrical and hydraulic controls, and they do not tolerate moisture or corrosion. Regular brake maintenance can prevent expensive brake repair.
BRAKE FLUID LOSS / LOW BRAKE FLUID
Problem: Brake fluid leak in the brake system. This is a serious safety hazard because a brake fluid leak may lead to total brake failure.
Repair: The vehicle should not be driven until a full brake system inspection can be completed, and the defective brake part replaced or rebuilt. Rust of steel brake lines are the most common cause. Repair requires brake line replacement. Worn brake master cylinder seals are second most common cause of brake fluid leak. Repair requires brake master cylinder replacement. Brake caliper or brake wheel cylinder seal failure is another common brake fluid leak problem, repair requires brake caliper overhaul or brake caliper replacement.
LOW BRAKE PEDAL & EXCESSIVE PEDAL TRAVEL
Problem: Low brake pedal is when the brake pedal travels too far before becoming firm. This brake problem is potentially dangerous because the brake pedal may run out of pedal travel (hit the floor) before the vehicle can be safely stopped.
Repair: Low brake pedal results from two problems depending on the brake type the vehicle has.
- With disc brakes the brake caliper pistons or brake caliper slides may be rusty and need service. Often just cleaning and lubricating of brake caliper hardware will solve a low brake pedal problem.
- Drum brake shoe adjusters can rust and fail to adjust for normal brake lining wear. Adjusting drum brake may restore full brake pedal height. Brake adjusters are cleaned or replaced.
SPONGY OR SOFT BRAKE PEDAL
Problem: Soft or spongy brake pedal is usually caused by air in the brake hydraulic system. Air in the brake system can result from improper brake bleeding, brake fluid loss, low brake fluid level, or a brake master cylinder problem. Another cause of soft brake pedal is a defective brake hose that is "ballooning" when the brakes are applied.
Repair: Check for brake fluid leak and bleed the brakes. In some cases requires brake hose replacement, brake line replacement, or brake master cylinder replacement.
BRAKE PEDAL SINKS
Problem: The brake pedal gradually sinks to the floor when steady pressure is applied. This is a dangerous condition caused by worn internal rubber seals in the brake master cylinder, or a leak in the brake hydraulic system will not allow the brake system to hold pressure.
Repair: brake leak inspection and a brake master cylinder check. May require brake master cylinder replacement, brake line replacement, or brake hose replacement.
BRAKE PEDAL PULSATION
Problem: Brake pedal pulsation indicates a warped brake rotor usually caused by brake overheating. Loose wheel bearings can also cause brake pulse.
Repair: requires brake rotor resurface, or brake rotor replacement, and brake pad replacement.
BRAKE SCRAPING NOISE
Problem: Brake scraping noise usually indicates metal‐to‐metal contact when brake pads or brake linings are worn. Some disc brake pads have brake wear indicators which produce a screeching sound which signals the brakes need immediate inspection.
Repair: Brake drum or brake rotor replacement, brake lining replacement, and brake hardware replacement.
Problem: Brake squeal is a very common brake problem. Brake squeal is usually caused by vibrations between the disc pads and brake caliper caused by hard spots in the brake rotor or brake pad materials. Hard spots are usually caused by brake overheating.
Repair: Brake squealing can be a difficult brake problem to repair. Some vehicles are more prone to brake squeal. Some brake brake pad materials can be prone to brake squeal, especially low cost brake parts. Sometimes the wrong brake pads are used to cut brake repair cost - wrong brake pad material can also cause safety hazard! Brake squeal repair often requires brake rotor resurface or brake rotor replacement, brake pad replacement, adjusting brake pad shims, applying grease to brake caliper guides, and anti-noise compound to the brake pads.
Problem: Brake chatter is commonly caused by incorrectly refinished brake rotors. Brake chatter can also be caused by contaminated brake pads from a brake fluid leak, failed wheel bearing seals (grease or oil contamination on brake pads), or poor brake pad installation work habits (greasy hands), and incorrect brake materials or overheated brakes. Brake chatter can also be caused by loose caliper guides or bolts.
Repair: Brake inspection to identify the cause of brake chatter, resurface brake rotors, replace brake rotor, brake pad replacement, axle seal replacement, brake caliper hardware replacement.
Problem: Oil, grease or brake fluid on the linings will cause them to grab. Badly scored brake drums or brake rotors can also cause brake grab.
Repair: identify and eliminate the source of brake contamination, and brake lining replacement. Resurface or replacement of brake rotors, drums and brake lining replacement may be needed.
Problem: Indicators of brake drag are usually steering pull and increased fuel consumption. Brake drag is commonly caused by weak or broken drum brake lining retracting springs, a jammed or corroded brake caliper piston, rusted floating caliper mounting pins or slide bushings, malfunctioning drum brake self‐adjusters, or a sticky or frozen parking brake cable. Brake drag causes rapid brake wear, overheated brakes, and in worst case smoke and even fire. Uneven brake pad or lining wear between the inner and outer linings is a strong indicator of brake drag. Defective brake flex hoses can also cause brake drag when the failed inner lining of the hose blocks the release of brake pressure.
Repair: brake inspection to find cause of brake drag. Possible brake repairs include service of brake hardware, overhaul brake calipers, parking brake cable replacement, brake hose replacement
BRAKE PULL TO ONE SIDE
Problem: Brake pull when brakes are applied causing vehicle to swerve. Caused by brake fluid, oil, or grease contaminated brake linings, misadjusted brakes, a sticking wheel cylinder or disc caliper, dragging brakes on one side, or loose wheel bearings. Can also be caused by a frozen disc caliper, differences in brake rotor thickness, rotor type or brake rotor condition. Can also be caused by worn steering and suspension components.
Repair: brake system diagnosis to identify source of problem. Often requires complete brake service including brake pad replacement, brake rotor replacement, disc caliper overhaul or replacement, wheel bearing replacement, steering repair, suspension repair, shock and strut replacement, wheel alignment.
HARD BRAKE PEDAL
Problem: A hard brake pedal usually indicates a lack of brake power assist. You have to press excessively hard on the brake pedal to get any stopping effect. This brake problem may be due to engine problem (low vacuum), a leaky vacuum hose, or a defective brake booster. Sometimes a faulty brake vacuum check valve will allow vacuum to leak out of the brake booster causing a hard pedal when the brakes are applied.
With "Hydro-boost" power brakes, a hard pedal can be caused by a loose power steering pump belt, low fluid level, leaks in the power hoses, or leaks or faulty valves in the Hydro-boost unit itself.
Repair: diagnose the brake system. Most common repair is engine vacuum hose repair, or a power brake booster replacement.
Problem: Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture from the air over time. Increased brake fluid moisture content decreases the boiling point of the brake fluid. This dramatically increases the risk of brake fluid boiling and the loss of braking power.
Repair: Brake fluid flush and replacement should be done every 2 years or 50,000 miles. There are different brake fluids and using the incorrect fluid can decrease brake function.