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Dealer or Brake Specialty Shop for Brakes?

I have a '05 Pontiac Vibe with 140K miles on it that desperately needs new brakes. The mechanics we have been using always use aftermarket parts and as a result the brakes always squeal, especially when they are cold. I am thinking a dealer might use better parts (original equipment) but there are no Pontiac dealers anymore since GM shut down the Pontiac division. The car is very similar to a Toyota Matrix, and most of the Matrix parts will work on a Vibe. But GM says I should take it to a Chevy dealership for service, because they took over the Pontiac repairs when Pontiac shut down. So which should I take it to? Or should I just try a brake specialty place?

Take it to any independent shop, and demand that all brake components meet or exceed OEM specifications.

The mechanics have probably been installing cheap aftermarket brake parts.



Here’s a wild idea . . .

Take it to a Toyota dealership and tell them you’d like them to perform the brake job

Based on my quick search, the Toyota Matrix does indeed use the same brakes, so they should be able to do it. And they’ll have them in stock.

If you don’t want noise, use factory brakes, which might just mean going to a dealer, and/or asking an independent shop to special order factory parts. I believe the factory brake pads were made by advics


I agree w/ db4690’s advice on this one. Squeaks and squeals during braking can be caused by things other than the pad material, like the wear indicators, shims, anti-rattle devices got left out or installed incorrectly on the last brake job. A dealership shop will know what all is supposed to be there and how it should be configured and will have the replacement parts on hand to fix it up correctly. The only other thing I can add is that when I’ve purchased replacement pads for my Corolla (or my prior VW Rabbit), this has been going on for 30 years or more, I’ve purchased aftermarket pads, and always a version priced roughly in the middle of the spectrum, and never had any squealing-brake problems. I think they are usually a Wagner brand. A Pontiac Vibe is indeed very similar to a Toyota Matrix, so using a Toyota shop or a Toyota independent specialist is where I’d go.

If your Pontiac Vibe is like the one my son had the brake calipers said Toyota cast right in. Any good independent mechanics around here are perfectly willing to use factory parts. A friend of mine, gor a retirement job delivering parts for a local Nissan dealer. More than half his job was delivering Nissan parts to independent mechanics.

If by specialty brake shop, you mean a national chain, I would avoid those.

I do my own brake jobs and have sometimes used factory parts and sometimes used the premium house brand from Napa or Advance and I have never had any noise problems but the devil is in the details. New hardware, grind or file flat the guides and lube them, lube the caliper pins, make sure the anti-rattle clips are installed right and take the car out and drive it hard,getting the brakes hot enough to bed them in.

You can’t do that kind of brake job and have the lowest price in town.

Now that George brought up Wagner brakes . . .

Do NOT use Wagner Thermoquiet brake pads

As a professional, I find the name “Thermoquiet” to be a cruel joke, as I’ve had nothing but noise problems when using that particular brake pad, far more noise problems, versus some other aftermarket brake pads

Even when using brand new rotors and replacing all the hardware, meticulously cleaning everything, properly lubing everything, using the proper lube where applicable, making sure nothing’s frozen or seized, everything slides properly, torquing everything to spec, measuring and ensuring runout was within specs, etc., the Thermoquiets were anything but quiet. In other words, there’s a very good chance that in spite of doing literally everything perfectly and by the book, those thermoquiets will be a major source of noise

This is very important, because . . . sadly, in my opinion . . . Wagner Thermoquiet is a very popular brand for many independent shops and some of the larger chain auto repair shops. So if you bring the car somewhere and tell them to do a brake job, if you don’t say anything, they might assume you’re okay with thermoquiet and just use them

We haven’t had any noise problems with Wagner Severe Duty, on the other hand. I’m just mentioning this to point out that Wagner is capable of producing brake pads that are quiet, but . . . cruelly . . . Thermoquiet is not one of them


Decades ago I gave a ride to a co worker who had taken his car to “Jiffy Brakes” I walked in just to be nosy. In the first bay a worker, (I didn’t say mechanic), was removing rear drum brakes shoes and hardware. His method was to insert a large screwdriver under the springs and pull, while turning his head. Crap flew 10 feet.

This guy must not have been too bright

The proper tools aren’t that expensive, and if it saves you from hurting yourself or somebody else, it already paid for itself

I think the Wagner pad I used is called “Quick Stop”, semi-metallic. I’d guess how much pads squeak – even using the same pad material – probably varies vehicle to vehicle. The caliper design and the vehicle weight must have a lot to do with it. So a pad material that doesn’t squeak on a Corolla might well squeak on an Dodge SUV.