Ripped off?

I was wondering if anyone out there can help me solve something that’s been bothering me. I recently moved to a new area, and a couple of weeks ago I took my car in to a new mechanic near my new place to get my front brake pads replaced. The mechanic was very friendly, seemed very customer service-oriented, and had a shop that looked busy and popular. He said it should cost about $140 to replace the front brake pads and machine the rotors. However, when I got the bill it was $200. I was surprised that it was so much more as I feel there shouldn’t be any “big surprises” when changing the brake pads–it’s a pretty straightforward job. When I looked more closely at the bill, I saw that the labor was $89, which seemed reasonable, but the charge for the OEM front brake pads was $110. This seemed ridiculous to me–I have never seen a set of brake pads that cost that much in any auto supply store–even the most high performance “racing” type brake pads that I’ve seen cost less than that. I asked the mechanic about it, and he said, “Sure, you can get some cheap brake pads at any auto supply store, but you’ll know the difference right away. These are the original Mazda brake pads, and these are the ones you want. With brake pads you definitely get what you pay for.” So my question for those of you who know more about cars than I do is this: Is what the mechanic told me true, or did I get totally ripped off? Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can give!

He should have called you and advised you, then proceeded only with your permission. Some state’s restrict the amount over a written estimate that the shop can go without authorization.

However, based on prices I’ve seen lately I don’t think $200 was unreasonable if the work was good. If he did good work, I’d probably just write on future shop orders “authorization required for amounts exceeding the estimate” before he starts the work.

If the mechanic really installed the brake pads that he said he did, original ones, I then would assume that you were not ripped off. I have found that the brake pads bought from the dealers or the original parts for a car are more expensive. Brake pads for a Ford Ranger where I live are about $90. Also, he will make some kind of a profit on the parts.

What model and year is your Mazda?


Call your Mazda dealer and see what they want for a set of brake pads for your car. Just tell them the model and year and they will quote a price. Don’t tell them that you are checking on the mechanic. Check your invoice before you call so that you know as much as you can about the pads your mechanic installed. If there are choices at the dealer you want to know which ones to pick. I think the price is high, but there might be pads at the dealer that cost that much.

The repair garage can get the same parts from the same stores that you can purchase from. They pay, about, 70% of what you pay. They “retail” that part to you for, about 150% of the price you would have paid. How can they do that? It’s called, “Business”. They did have to order the part, and receive the part. That should be worth something.
You should have been informed of the price you would be charged for parts before you approved the work order. There should be no surprise there.

I see in your post you said the mechanic was going to ‘replace the front brake pads and machine the rotors’. Was the cost of machining the rotors included with the cost of the pads?

If so I don’t think you were ripped off.

The only thing I would question is turning down the rotors instead of just replacing them. But then the bill would have been $300. The rotors may be more susceptible to warping after being turned down.

You did not state which model Mazda you have but a random look at few late models show that some aftermarket ceramic pads are 70-85 dollars a set. The Mazda OEM pads are certainly not going to be cheaper. The shop is also entitled to a markup on the pads.

What I don’t understand is the 89 dollars labor; and this INCLUDES machining the rotors?
This guy must have a very cheap, and unusal, shop labor rate and enjoys working at a severe discount.
I don’t know what kind of Mazda you have or the flat rate time on whatever it is, but this should normally be an approx. 3 hour flat rate job.

200 sounds very inexpensive with rotor machining included; even cheap.

not that this has ANYTHING to do with your post, but… this reminds me exactly why i do my own brake jobs!!

They got too much money for the parts but you won’t go broke from one minor overcharge. You can be happy about this surprise and just don’t go back there. I think it’s just a lopsided bill that could have come out the same somewhere else. You are only 15% ripped off so don’t even think about it.

Here’s you some aftermarket Mazda pads.

Take a look at the high end MazdaSpeed pads.
If this guy was in the thievin’ business he would be charging you a lot more than 89 bucks labor for pad replacement and rotor machining.

What he might have quoted you was the price for aftermarket pads they he usually buys. But then when he started the job they either didn’t have the pads in stock or didn’t carry them for your vehicle and he was forced to buy OEM pads. I think he probably should have called you first to let you know so you could approve the increase cost.

I always inform the mechanic or shop to call me FIRST before he do anything, & I keep the old parts so I know he really did change them.

One more point. If he really were going to rip you off, he would have changed a caliper unnecessarily, told you you needed a new exhaust or cat converter or some other expensive thing, or pulled some other trick worth hundreds of dollars. He wouldn’t have simply charge a bit over the quoted charge for the work.

Or suggested a flush. That’s the current popular profit enhancer.

I think you can rest easy.

You were the first to reply to the OPs’ post. That was two days ago. Don’t you wonder why he/she hasn’t answered anything yet?

Thanks for your help! Sorry for the delay in replying–I’m a medical resident so I work a ridiculous number of hours. Anyway, the car is a 2003 Mazda Protege5 (hatchback). Please let me know if you have any other input!

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for your input–it’s been very helpful! Sorry for the delay in getting back–my job is very demanding and sometimes I fall behind on e-mail and the like. Please don’t think I didn’t read your posts and/or didn’t appreciate them–I did!

Thanks for your advice. I’ll go ahead and rest easy like you say. Sorry for the delay in getting back to everyone–sometimes I fall behind on these kinds of things with the crazy hours I work.

We’ll let you off this time, just don’t let it happen again. Heh heh heh.