Brakes need to be changed

Hi, I have a 2004 Honda LX with around 160,000 miles. So I took my car in for it’s yearly inspection and I passed, but the mechanic said all I need fixed where the brakes. The papar says all brakes. So a two part question. How would I know if my car is front or back wheel drive so I could just change those? And second what do I need to change, would it be the brakes and pads only and is it ok if I just the 2 if it is front wheel drive or are all 4 necessary?

Accords are front wheel drive.
But that has nothing to do with the fact that all modern cars have brakes on all 4 wheels.
If you’re trying to save money get a second opinion from a well regarded independent mechanic.
Don’t try to cheap out on brake work. That would be foolish and dangerous.
The questions you ask suggest to me that a brake overhaul is beyond your DIY capabilities.
Let a professional do it right.


I second that. You do not have the ability to do this job properly.


I used to think emissions inspections anymore were silly but at least it is a chance to have a conversation with someone once a year.

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I don’t know about Minnesota, but in MD emissions checks are done at an emissions specific facility. The techs do not need to be mechanics to work there.

At least they probably would know brakes are on four wheels and could advise anyway.

This situation reminds me of a guy who I knew back in the '60s & '70s. He was showing me the new Datsun that his father had just bought, and he bragged that it had brakes on all 4 wheels.

When I informed him that this had been a standard feature of cars since the 1910s, he thought for another minute or two, and then said, “Well, it has hydraulic brakes on all 4 wheels!”. I told him that he would have to come up with something more impressive, as that feature had been present on most cars since the '20s, or '30s.

At that point, he stopped trying to impress me with his technical knowledge.


When I went for my inspection last year they said my brakes were at about 50 percent. This was a Subaru spot, never will I go there again that’s my bad. But if they told me that there and now this mechanic spot told me they’re low should I just have them changed. I mean I had this car for 3 years and never changed them or the tires. I’d like to do both. And I can’t do the brakes myself but my dad knows how to do them and I also have a really good mechanic that I have work on my car, would it be a waste of time to just have one of them do the brakes or is the second opinion necessary?

The deciding factors on when it is time to revive the brake components at the wheels are mostly

  • lining material thickness (applies to both disc pads and drum brake shoes)
  • continence of hydraulic cylinders (applies to both disc calipers and drum wheel cylinders)
  • mechanical problems with brake hardware (broken springs, torn boots, stuck cables, scored discs/drums, etc)
  • condition of hydraulic brake lines (rusted, leaking, deteriorating/collapsing rubber hoses)

These all must be inspected and the decision to replace is independent of whether the car is FWD, RWD, AWD, or 4WD. Brake work is safety critical, both to you and other drivers, so make sure the person who is doing the work is competent, thorough, patient, and has the needed level of expertise.


When you have the tires replaced or rotated, ask them to check the thickness of the brake pads. That will tell you if the need to be replaced.

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By necessity, I did a lot of maintenance and repairs on my cars including oil changes, fuel.pump.replacement, water pump.rrplacement, spark plug replacement, shock absorbers, etc. This was back in the 1960s and 1970s when money was tight and cars were relatively easy to work on. However, I never did brake repairs. I paid to have brake shoes or pads replaced. I felt more comfortable having an experienced mechanic service the brakes.
In the good old days, the mechanical fuel pump was on the engine. One didn’t have to drop the gas tank to replace the electric fuel pump. The water pump was right behind the radiator. When the water pump had to be replaced on the 2011 Toyota Sienna I used to own, the motor mounts were loosened so that the engine could be rolled to get to the pump. I don’t even do oil changes these days. But of all the maintenance and repairs I did do, I never felt competent to do brake work.

Here is the absolute best advice myself or probably anyone can give you… Drive your car to a trusted shop/mechanic/your dad, then get out of the car, then hand over your keys, ask them to check out your brakes and then walk away!!..

Have them properly check the brakes out and tell you the price to repair… If you don’t even know if you Accord is a front wheel drive or a rear wheel drive or even an all wheel drive then you are just going to have to trust someone… If you take it to a friend or shop, then have your dad go with you to help you make a decision…


My first brake job was on my 59 Pontiac. I was home on Christmas vacation in 1968 and I watched/helped my bil put brakes and exhaust on in our freezing garage. So I was able after that to do the work myself with the help of repair manuals. I don’t remember ever paying him for the parts. Finally last year I asked him nd he didn’t remember.

I seen midas and pep boys has a free brake check. Do you think that would be a good option instead of paying to have them checked again? And when I change them do I have to change the rotors as well?

No. They do a free brake check to get you in the door then often find other “problems” that need fixing. Find a good independent shop of take it to a dealer for an assessment. If you don’t know a good shop, ask everyone you know for recommendations. When you hear a name several times, go there.


You’re probably going to get conflicting advice here. If the rotors are in good shape, you can probably get away with just new pads, but if you guess wrong then the old rotors could reduce the life of the new pads. If you play it safe and get new rotors, your brakes should be in good shape for a long time to come, so that’s the route I take if there’s any question.

You didn’t ask about turning the rotors if they’re warped, but I’ll point out that with today’s rotors that usually leaves them very close to the minimum thickness, which means they could warp again sooner rather than later. The conservative call is to replace them instead of turning them.

Overall, assuming you’re keeping the car for a while, my vote is to go to a good independent mechanic or the dealer, replace the pads, and likely replace the rotors unless they’re sure they’ll last for a long time.

They will almost surely claim that there are many problems (which may or may not actually exist), of an emergent nature. In other words, There’s no such thing as a free lunch.


I actually would like to sell this car and get something new by the end of the year. I also think I might just get the rotors and brakes/pass fixed just because. I’m also going on vacation in about a month so I’m gonna wanna change them before I hit the road… Do you think I should spend the higher dude of money for the parts, I see rotors for 30 but also for 70 to 100+. And when I decide to fix the breaks. Should I just do the front since it’s a front wheel drive???

Whether a vehicle is FWD, or RWD, or AWD, the brake pads on ALL wheels need to be replaced if they are badly-worn. Whether you also replace the rotors depends on their condition. However, I advise against using cheap-o rotors.

none of us here can see your brakes. You said your dad is knowledgeable and you have a trusted mechanic. I highly suggest you take the vehicle to one of them and ask their opinion. Having eyes on this concern is the best way to get applicable advice.

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