How do tire chains make money of $59 brake pad specials?

Or is this a loss leader?

I mean cheap pads for a Civic are like $30.
Maybe they get them even cheaper?

I guess if all goes well, you can blast out a pad swap in 15 mins.
But, it seems like a very low margin business.

Since they only pay $20 for those same cheap pads they might break even… They make money because most people need more than a pad replacement. Most meaning 99%. Turned rotors, new rotors, rebuilt calipers ect. It gives the chains the ability to up-sell you to new shocks, struts, ball joints, exhaust, wipers air filters and more.

My guess pads and rotors tend to go hand in hand, if not new a resurface, so the profit margin is in the price for the rotor, and additional labor, maybe a brake fluid flush, new air filter etc.

Read the fine print (denoted with an *) and you will see how they make money on it. Its like those TV ads that sell you something real cheap, and you get a second item free for just the S&H. When you get the charge for the S&H, they are making a lot of money.

''ya want fries with that ?"

The up-sell.
EVERYBODY does it, not just car repairs.

Very few folks get out for just $59, they often (always?) find other parts that are worn and need to be replaced. Fertile hunting ground for shocks, struts, tie rod ends, ball joints, new rotors, calipers, etc, etc…

And TIRES, of course!

Very few folks get out for just $59, they often (always?)

That is where they make most of their money. It’s called a loss leader.

Long story but we were on vacation at Disney with the family and our son had to drive down. Of course he developed a bad miss on the way down and we had to get it fixed before he took off to Minnesota again. We ended up at a Firestone (not for want of trying an indi but time was a factor). While waiting, a lady came in who had brake work done and still had a problem. They had sold her up for four wheel pads and rotors, plus calipers, etc. to the tune of about $1000. Most of the time you will never get out of there for the $59 or whatever. Its like a $59 inspection to find everything else that is dirty enough to need replacing.

PS They did fix the car for about $350 for a new coil but tried to sell plugs and wires for another couple hundred. We just did that ourselves. I’m not complaining and well worth the money to get it fixed right away but boy, if you don’t know anything about cars, you can spend quite a bit. I always wondered what Disney Car Care would have cost. I might have been pleasantly surprised.

In Los Angeles Bing was exposed to the situation. Some shops don’t even have space left on the lot. When I went to Disneyland I needed a fan motor for an 87 Tempo. They went to the junkyard on a Saturday and got me a fan shroud complete with blade and motor.

It cost $70 but I needed it because the car and I came from Maine and the fan blade was rusted solidly to the motor. A California motor and blade would never be in that shape. I was happy to pay.

The$59.99 job will make $4 in cleaning supplies that cost $.59.

I bet there is rarely to very rarely a car brought in for a $59 brake pad job that leaves the chain shop with a $59 bill + tax. These prices are to get a car in the shop and on the rack and then all sorts of “recommendations” for services are piled on the bill. Virtually every owner will get hooked into something and end up with a $300, 400, 500 or higher bill before they get their car back.

Local dealer had $10 oil changes. And the up sell began.

The shop I deal with offers an oil change for $19.99 which is definitely a loss even using their bulk oil. This ‘deal’ is prominently displayed on a large sign in a high traffic area and they don’t seem to mind ‘leading’ with such a ‘loss’ too much. To their credit they’ve never up sold me anything that they could not show me (as in come here and look under the hoist). On the other hand I’ve overheard conversations with other customers who are paying a mortgageable fortune in repairs because they haven’t bothered to look after their cars.

let’s not get too far out of hand. I bet if i can buy pads for $20, that some of these large chains can get good/great pads for less than I. Plus assume your car is perfect and everything is in tip top shape, ie great rotors, no issues with calipers, ect. A tech can do front pads on a standard vehicle in 25 minutes and have the car back on the lot. The tech is paid at a hourly rate by the company, so they are out only $15. That and assume $15 pads, so now we have a cost of $30 and sales of $59+$8shop supplies. Looks like a margin of $37 per half hour to pay for the building/tools/machines ect. This doesn’t even include the golden upcharges and finding other things that are “safety” issues that you wouldn’t want to drive home with.

So worse case scenario is $74/hour profit sounds pretty good when 80%+ customers likely get other identified work done that also has even heftier margins.

All of this is fair/they have a great business, they work hard for the money…but let’s not think we are robbing these guys at these special deals–it is always a win win for them and can be a win or lose for you.

When I worked at the dealer, it was even worse

The customers would come in for a free 27-point inspection . . . which actually took 30 minutes to an hour, if you actually inspected everything on the list. The free inspection was actually the 1-hour small service, minus the oil change.

Then the customer would hear that the car was fine, but you need such and such. The upsells began. Some of these free inspections turned into gravy trains.

The mechanics were NOT paid for this inspection, not even on the “shop ticket.” A few of us complained that these were illegal work practices. We were told to go along with the program . . . or hit the road. We were also told that we were expected to have up[sell recommendations for every single car. When I protested that some cars were in excellent condition and didn’t need anything, I was told that’s not possible.

I am sorry to say that I went along with the program, because I needed to keep my job. After all, the bills and the mortgage aren’t going to pay for themselves.

After I was gone from that place, and the dust had settled, I realized how shady the auto repair business can be. And I’m not surprised that it often doesn’t have a great reputation

You guys are free to think less of me for admitting to having been part of some shady stuff, but at least I admitted it. None of us have been perfect all of the time.

I don’t have a problem with upselling and it’s something that should be done.
The problem with upselling is if someone is trying to push unneeded services and none of the dealers where I worked ever did this; although I’m sure on a per mechanic basis it did happen now and then.

The closest I was involved in unnecessary upselling was at a large multi-line dealer where the service manager (hands down the biggest fool on Earth) insisted that a full complement of BG products be installed in every car that came in for a maintenance service.
The SM was not doing this because he was flat out crooked. He was just stupid beyond belief and honestly felt that a BG product added today would prevent that impending explosion tomorrow…

The mechanics had no part in this garbage other than adding the engine oil/trans supplement/fuel system cleaner as per orders. There was no additional pay in the mechanic pockets other than the 2 bits per token saved from each can; redeemable when the BG snake oi… representative came by each month. :slight_smile:

Naw, I used to sell insurance. You always tried to upsell.

These days a repair shop (chain, dealer, or independent) is simply trying to drive traffic into their shop. As some have accurately noted, most people actually need more than what they have come in for. Unscrupulous shops will upsell unneeded services and snake oil kits for “better performance”. My best advice to people is to choose a good, independent garage for regular maintenance and service. If they are honest you will always get a fair price for any needed maintenance and they won’t upsell bogus service items. A good shop doesn’t need to advertise crazy specials to keep their customers happy. My mechanic always discounts his prices to me since I am a loyal customer.

The problem is this

What is considered “bogus” . . . ?

A coolant flush, even if your car has 150K and the coolant is original?

A brake fluid flush, even if your car has 150K, is 10 years old, and has the original fluid?

An alignment, even though your tires are obviously wearing unevenly?

A new battery, even if the old battery is 6 years old, leaking acid, and failed a load test?

As you see, it’s not always so easy to determine what is bogus and what isn’t?

“A good shop doesn’t need to advertise crazy specials to keep their customers happy”.
@bloody_knuckles–I agree. Ironically, I just had new brake pads all the way around on my Sienna and had the front rotors replaced. I had the work done by an independent dealer that I trust where I have purchased tires and had brake and alignment work done on other vehicles I have owned. I paid considerably more than $59.95. I would rather pay more at a shop that I trust for a brake job than hunt for a special.
This reminds me of an experience when my wife and I went to graduate school. We had both had tetanus shots within the previous year. My wife had her shot several weeks before I had mine. At any rate, she received a notice from the health center on campus that she was overdue for a tetanus booster shot. She could go to any doctor’s office and bring back proof of having the booster shot, but the health center would give the inoculation for $5. When my wife got to the health center, there was a long line of students waiting to get a booster shot. It turned out that the health center had over purchased tetanus serum that was about to go out of date, so the health service was running a “special” on booster shots. I wonder if the chain tire store had over purchased on brake pads and needed to run a special to get rid of the inventory.

@db4690 - As I stated " If they are honest you will always get a fair price for any needed maintenance and they won’t upsell bogus service items." I wasn’t implying in any way that a shop shouldn’t try to sell a customer truly needed maintenance. It is essential that drivers understand the proper maintenance intervals of their vehicle and address these needs as they arise by time and mileage.