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How Much Do New Brakes Cost?

A brake caliper and rotor.

You put your foot down on the accelerator and your vehicle responds instantly — which is good. But then you put your foot down on the brake pedal and something’s not quite right – which is bad. Whether the issue is a squealing noise or a longer stopping distance than before, it likely indicates that it’s time for a brake job. Your first question is probably “how much do new brakes cost?” The answer to how much are new brakes is that it depends on a few factors. Here’s what you need to know when contemplating the cost of new brakes for your vehicle.

What Kind of Car Do You Have?Brake show

It may not surprise you that brakes for a subcompact commuter car are going to be less expensive than brakes for a high-performance sports or muscle car. You may even have paid extra when you bought the car for upgraded brakes. Getting your brakes back to their original specifications will usually come at a cost that’s proportional to the price of your car. It is worth doing a little research on your own vehicle to familiarize yourself with what kind of brakes are on your vehicle. Most modern vehicles have disc brakes front and rear, but some may have drum brakes in the rear. Your vehicle may also have brake pad wear sensors which will need to be replaced and will need to be factored in when determining how much are new brake pads. Heavy vehicles like trucks and SUVs need stouter braking systems, which tend to cost more to replace. Electric vehicle drivers typically only need to have their brakes routinely inspected and cleaned thanks to regenerative braking, but brake pads can still deteriorate and still need replacement.

Are You an Originalist?

Asking how much are brakes and rotors can depend on whether or not you are an originalist that feels your vehicle must have genuine original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts rather than aftermarket parts that fit your make and model. There are many high-quality aftermarket brake options out there that will perform as well as OEM parts, so if you’re not having brake work done on a classic car that will be mercilessly judged on period correctness and originality, you could save significant money on the cost of brakes. The most important factor is that the brake friction material meet the specifications spelled out by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Likewise rotors and calipers must also be of the same design. For example you shouldn’t use a solid rotor when a vented rotor was originally in place. Owners of high-performance vehicles should use the same type of pad to continue enjoying the same level of high-performance braking.

What Do Your Brakes Need?

Brake repair isn’t an all-or-nothing, one-size-fits-all job. Some people focus on asking how much do front brakes cost, but the entire system should be taken into consideration. Sometimes new brake pads are all you need, but worn brake pads can lead to other problems in short order, most often damage to the rotors. If that has happened, you may be looking at having your rotors resurfaced, and if the damage is considerable, you may have to have your rotors replaced which will add to the cost to change brakes on your vehicle. Keep in mind that brake rotor replacement can vary based on the design of the vehicle. Some brake rotors slip right off like a wheel, while others may require disassembly of the suspension and wheel hub. This all adds to the labor time and costs.

Even with proper maintenance and care, the friction involved in braking will mean that, at some point in the life of your vehicle, the rotors will wear too thin to provide proper stopping power. If you’re at that point, it’s a good idea to replace the brake lines too and possibly the master cylinder, depending on its condition. If something bigger has gone wrong, you might even need a new caliper or wheel cylinder. Replacing a caliper or wheel cylinder means opening up the brake hydraulic system which will now need to be bled and new fluid added. Naturally, the more components you replace, the higher the brake job cost may be.

Who Is Doing the Work?

When looking at how much to change brakes dealerships generally charge more for labor than independent garages and mechanics. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, though, you could be very happy to learn the price of new car brakes purchased and installed at home, as the labor may cost as much as the parts if you have a garage to do the job. Just remember that brakes are a critical component of your car, and your safety depends on this job being done right. If you have a decent amount of DIY experience with your vehicle and a good understanding of your vehicle’s braking system, this might be a job you can do in an afternoon. If you don’t feel up to the job, your local NAPA AutoCare can tackle if for you.

Because of all the variables, the cost of a brake job is hard to pin down. This is where estimates from your local service department, garage or mechanic come in. You can also get an estimate of how much does a brake job cost for most vehicles with our online tool. Be prepared — the parts cost of brake repair alone for a brake pad replacement will likely cost more than $100 per wheel. If you’re looking at brakes, rotors, lines or more, a four-figure bill is not and out of the question cost of replacing brakes for a newer car. The longer you wait for a brake repair, it can be almost guaranteed to cost more so don’t put it off.

Check out all the brake parts available on NAPAOnline, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how much new brakes cost or how much does it cost to replace brakes, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

Photo Courtesy of Mike Hagerty.


Mike Hagerty View All

Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and Previous outlets have included KFBK and in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and

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