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A Brake Job Or A Hose Job?

This is a question I’ve wanted to ask for a long time:

Sometimes when I get my disc brakes serviced, the job requires new rotors, due to the fact that there isn’t enough metal left of them to turn and resurface, or at least not a sufficient amount to allow for 25 or 30 thousand miles of continued use.

But no matter when or where I’ve had such work done, I have always been charged for the new rotors on top of the price of getting a standard brake job. There is never any allowance or deduction for labor due the fact that installing new rotors involves significantly less work than resurfacing two or four of them, depending on whether or not I’m having both axles done.

This also applied to the few times I needed new drums, back in the day.

A standard brake job requires that the discs or drums be resurfaced, and if that work is not necessary due to the purchase of new parts, why do shops and dealerships still charge for it?

Did you ask them about it?

Actually, it is so easy to change disk pads and rotors that you might consider doing it yourself.

I think you’re misinterpreting something along the way. Provide some actual numbers and maybe this can be sorted out. I’ve never seen or heard of a shop that would charge brake rotor R & R time along with surfacing time when the rotors were simply replaced with new ones. I’m assuming here that’s what you’re getting at.

There IS enough material to safely surface brake rotors. Almost every rotor has at least .030 at a bare minimum to play with and many have .040-060. Shaving .020 off is not going to hurt anything. The only problems that will occur is when some hack shaves .050 or more off of them or does a lousy job of machining them.

I don’t have numbers or receipts in front of me, but I’ll give you the short version.

A company advertises a single axle brake job for … let’s say $99.00. It turns out that you really do need new rotors, but the bill comes out to that same $99.00 PLUS the additional cost of the new rotors.

Any flat rate deal like that is not broken down according to very specific things such as which part of the labor time ends up where.

It is also the case, that most flat rate deals such as this are a) probably from large corporate chain-type operations and b) are probably done near cost because part of what they will do is look for other work that you need done (or that they will claim you need done) and that is where the money is made. Oil change “deals” work the same way.

I’d suggest doing yourself a favor & asking around among people you know for a good, local, independent auto shop - one that isn’t a corporate chain kind of operation. Then just start taking your car to them for just about everything.

The $99 special you refer to is normally just the price for brake pads and installation. It doesn’t mean “$99 to fix everything that is wrong with your brakes”, and most shops either sell you new rotors installed at no additional charge or charge additional for the time involved to machine them. At least that’s the way every shop I have seen does things. If they threw in new rotors for the $99, they would essentially be paying you for coming into their shop because they would have more than $99 wrapped up in parts and labor. It would get worse for them if you also needed hoses, calipers, or anything else. I don’t see what the issue is since nobody is actually doing anything unscrupulous, unless you mean they are charging you for turning new rotors. That would be worthy of controversy.

“The $99 special you refer to is normally just the price for brake pads and installation. It doesn’t mean “$99 to fix everything that is wrong with your brakes”, and most shops either sell you new rotors installed at no additional charge or charge additional for the time involved to machine them.”

Unless the shop to which the OP refers clearly states that the $99 special includes all parts and labor that might be needed for a proper brake job, the price is really just inclusive of the parts and labor for replacing the pads, and nothing more. At least that is the way that all of the chain operations in my area operate–and that is one of the reasons why I don’t patronize them!

My guess is that if the OP reads the fine print in the ad for this $99 brake special, he/she will find that it says something along the lines of “additional parts and labor may be required, at additional cost”. This is akin to the classic bait and switch routine, where customers are brought in with an unnaturally low price, and are subsequently “upsold” so that the business can actually make a profit. Few people actually exit from these places without paying for additional parts and labor.

Something I’m saying is being lost in translation. (my fault)

I don’t expect new rotors for the price of the $99.00 brake job. But if that price includes resurfacing the existing rotors on one axle, and I wind up buying two new rotors, the fact that they aren’t resurfacing my old ones is not reflected in the total price on the bill.

No - what people are saying is that the $99 flat rate job probably does not include rotor resurfacing. It includes pulling out the old pads and putting in new pads. And that’s it. But no one has details so what is being said is based on what is typical of these kinds of “deals.”

Unless the OP has a copy of an ad stating that rotor resurfacing is included in that $99 special, it is HIGHLY unlikely that the price includes anything other than pulling a couple of wheels, removing the old brake pads, installing new pads, and putting the wheels back on.

Ok … scratch the $99.00. I just threw that out there for a reference point. (I’ll try this again)

I go in for a brake job, and part of the deal “includes” resurfacing the rotors (or drums). For the sake of argument, let’s up the price to $199.00 or even $299.00.

BUT … they’re worn beyond repair, and new rotors (or drums) are recommended / called for. The point I’m getting at is the bill invariably comes to whatever the original deal was for the price of the brake job they offered (resurfacing the old rotors included!), PLUS the cost of the two new rotors (or drums).

As several others before me have written, the brake job does not include the cost of resurfacing the rotors/drums. Resurfacing the rotors in my neighborhood costs about $10-$12 per rotor. Resurfacing the drums is usually not required, unless the drums have well over 100,000 miles on them. In my neighborhood (snow and salt) the rotors have to be resurfaced at about 60,000 mi due to weather corrosion. Folks in the SouthWest may require resurfacing only after every second brake job.

jtsanders: "Actually, it is so easy to change disk pads and rotors that you might consider doing it yourself. "

I agree. It’s the one thing a car owner could do that saves the most money. Changing oil, oil filters and air filters are good, but the savings are minuscule compared to what one could save replacing brakes once every 4-5 years.

Every brake replacement special offer I’ve ever seen only includes the brake pads or the brake shoes. Usually there’s a statement in fine print that say’s something along the line, “Additional parts/service may be required at an additional cost.”


Alright … thanks for your responses.

I see what he’s saying, and so far, you’ve missed it…

All work done, with resurfacing = $99 (the price isn’t the important part)…

Same job, wait, rotors are just bad, we’ll replace them (for arguments sake, at $50 each).

Job is now $199.

His question is: Why didn’t they remove the cost of resurfacing the rotors when they figured out they couldn’t (for whatever reason)?

From what I can figure out, the answer is they quoted you a fixed price for this work, and you’re going to pay that. Any other parts are just plain extra. Once the car is apart, you’re stuck, anyway, and once you’re in the door, you have to finish to get out.

I will, however, second a comment made many times, in many other threads…Find a good local mechanic. They’re going to be far better than your chain outfits in the long run, and if you stick with them, they’re more likely to help you out when you run into a problem that really requires more than your standard part swap.


Chase, the key to the whole discussion has been that most of those things DO NOT include turning the rotors. No one missed anything. The cost of turning the rotors was never in there. Of course, the whole thing is hypothetical b/c the OP never provided anything in terms of any specific charges for any specific work.

Those two do, found in less than 30 seconds of looking at places around me.

…and your point would be…?


I think the seller’s interpretation is that the “special” is $99 for whichever of the listed parts of the service you need. E.g., chaissos’ citing from Brake Check includes rebuilding the calipers. I’ll bet that if they convinced you that you needed new calipers, they would not deduct for not rebuilding.

It does seem a little scammy to me, but maybe the customer is supposed to understand the pricing.

Anyhow, even if you could get them to give a credit for not turning the rotors, it would be pretty small. They’ll give you their actual cost (few minutes of the mechanic’s time), rather than what they would charge you if you brought in some rotors to be turned.