The average cost to replace car brake pads varies across the country, ranging anywhere from $100-350 per car axle. The car brake pads alone can cost anywhere between $30-$150 per car axle, the rest being labor.
The cost to replace gets more expensive, if you need additional services. For example, if you need to replace your rotors and/or brake calipers as well.
Continue to read this guide to learn more about how much it will cost to replace car brake pads.
How much does it cost to replace car brake pads?
What’s the cost to replace 2 car brake pads (front or rear brakes)?
If you are only replacing 2 brake pads, you will probably be replacing just the front brake pads.
Why? The front of a traditional combustion car is heavier than the rear because the engine and other major parts are located “under the hood.” Since the front of the car is heavier than the rear and closer to the direction the vehicle is likely traveling, it tends to do most of the “braking” work. Front brake pads are also usually larger than the rear brake pads.
Depending on the specific type and brand of brake pads you purchase, traditional car brake pads alone can cost anywhere between $30 – $150 per car axle. A quick search of a nationwide auto part web store shows brake pads ranging between $30 to $100 per axle.
Depending on your region, you can expect to pay approximately $75 – $200 for labor to change your brake pads.
Bringing the total cost for 2 brake pads (the front car axle) to between $100 – $350.
What’s the cost to replace all 4 car brake pads?
Replacing 4 car brake pads means that you’ll need to replace brake pads on 2 axles. The 2 axles being one in the front and the other in the back.
If we use the same analysis as above, it can cost anywhere between $200 – $700 to replace all 4 car brake pads.
What’s the cost to replace your car’s rotors?
Replacing a car’s rotors (in addition to brake pads) can definitely get more expensive.
Depending on the specific type and brand of rotors you purchase, rotors alone can cost anywhere between $35 – $250 per axle. Like anything you buy these days, “you get what you pay for.”
A quick search for rotors at a nationwide auto part web store shows car rotors ranging between $35 to $250 per axle.
Depending on the region you live and the shop you go to, you can expect to pay approximately $75-$200 for labor.
This will bring the total cost to replace a car’s rotors for just 1 axle to between $100 – $400. For 2 axles, you can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $800.
If you were to replace all of a car’s brake pads and rotors, you can expect to pay anywhere between $400 and $1,500.
Reminder that there are a list of factors that will affect the actual repair and/or maintenance cost. In the next section we cover just some of what those factors.
Factors that affect the cost to replace your car’s brake pads
There are many factors that collectively impact how much it will cost you to replace a car’s brake pads. One factor can have more impact than another factor, but ultimately, it’s several factors that contribute.
Below is a list of common factors that will affect the cost of replacing brake pads (and maybe even rotors)
Type of Brakes
As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” We discuss brake pad types below, but like with anything else in life, there are different tiers of quality.
With a few exceptions, the cheaper the brake pad, the shorter lifespan and quality. This means you’ll be visiting the auto repair shop often. The more you visit for brakes, the more you pay for parts and labor.
Type of car
The type of car you have will also affect the cost of brake pads. If you have a performance car, you can anticipate to spend more on brake pads than a traditional sedan.
For example, the types of brakes used on a Corvette Z series is different than a Honda Accord.
Make of your car
The brand of car can also impact the cost of brakes. A traditional luxury car brand will probably cost more than non-luxury type car.
For example, Audi car brake pads may cost a lot more than brake pads for a traditional Ford sedan. Audi is part of the luxury arm of the Volkswagen Group of cars. Check out our article on car brands versus manufacturers here.
The make of your car will probably not have a significant impact, because you can buy aftermarket brake pads (and other parts) that will fit your car for a fraction of the cost.
For instance, you can find Bosch ceramic disk pads that fit a Honda Civic or Honda Accord on Amazon for as low as $40-$55(depending on whether it’s on sale or not).
The location impacts the cost of changing car brake pads differently. Except for the amount of local sales tax that you may pay, the cost of the brake pads itself likely won’t change.
If you decide to have a car’s brake pads changed at an auto shop, the cost of labor will likely vary from region to region.
Based on a 2020 report ranking average labor rates by state, labor rates across the nation varied significantly. Drivers in Mississippi paid the most on average at approximately $153, whereas drivers in New York on average paid approximately $135.
As discussed above, the labor rate will affect the total cost of a car repair/maintenance bill because you will have a qualified technician spend time to replace the brake pads, rotors, and/or any other part as part of the car’s brake system.
The age of a car will have an effect on how much it costs to replace a car’s brake pads. Newer cars have more advanced technology resulting in more expensive parts to replace.
Similarly, older cars may be just as expensive, especially if the car is no longer made.
Unless a car is in a special category (sports car, performance, antique, etc.), traditional cars use brake pads that are easy to find.
Driving habits also affect the cost to replace brake pads. Depending on your driving habits, you can wear out additional brake system parts that need to be replaced.
If you drive recklessly, often overheat them, or drive more than an average person, then the brake pads will wear out faster than normal. You may even need higher quality break pads, which means the cost will go up.
Type of shop
The shop you visit to replace brake pads will impact your cost in two ways: (1) cost of the brake pads; and (2) cost of labor.
For example, if you have a GMC truck, and you take your car to a GMC dealer, the dealer can use aftermarket parts or original manufacturer recommended parts. Aftermarket parts will likely be cheaper than OEM parts. Regardless, of the type of part used, the labor rate will be the same.
Car dealers charge an hourly labor rate that is multiplied by the time spent. For instance, if the labor rate is $150 and it takes 1.5 hours to change 4 brake pads, the total labor rate will be $225.
Dealers also have other fees that they probably charge, in addition to parts and labor.
Aside from dealers, there are various other car repair shops that you can go to. Some repair shops will likely charge a flat rate to change brake pads. You can go to a local family-owned car repair shop that your parents have gone to for years. Usually you can negotiate the price at local family-owned shops.
There are also nationwide chains, such as Jiffy Lube® that perform brake inspection and replacement services.
What’s the difference between car brake pads and rotors?
Car rotors are a critical part of the braking system for a vehicle. They are typically located in front and back of the car (on each axle), and help to slow down and stop the vehicle.
Brake pads are the thin pieces of rubber that are found on the inside of your car’s wheels. These pads press against the rotors when you push on the brake pedal, which then slows down the rotation of your car’s wheels and, in turn, stops it.
It is important to make sure that you have a good set of brakes because they can be a safety measure for your car. Brakes are important because they help you to stop your car safely and avoid accidents. They also help to reduce wear and tear on other parts of your vehicle such as tires and brakes.
Types of car brake pads
Generally speaking, for traditional cars there are two types of brake pads, ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads
Ceramic brake pads
Ceramic brake pads tend to cost more than other types of brake pads, and provide the best braking performance. They are made from ceramic material that is more durable than the rubber and metal pads. They are also less likely to wear down faster than other types of pads. Ceramic brake pads can be used in a variety of vehicles.
Ceramic brake pads have many advantages over other types of brakes because they last longer and produce less heat. As a result, this means they don’t need to be replaced as often.
Semi-metallic brake pads
Semi-metallic brake pads cost less than ceramic brake pads and are considered to be more affordable. These brake pads also tend to have lower performance compared to ceramic and can also be louder than ceramic brake pads.
Although they tend put less of a strain on the brake system, compared to ceramic pads, semi-metallic brake pads produce a lot more brake dust.
Lastly, semi-metallic brake pads are more favorable in colder weather compared to ceramic brake pads.
How to know if you need new car brake pads?
There are several signs you will see or hear that means you need new brakes pads. If you usually change your car’s oil at a car repair shop, they tend check the status of your brake pads.
The car shop will let usually let you know whether you need to replace your car brakes or not. For example, this Chevy dealer will recommend its customers replace their brake pads if the brake pads are less than 1/4-inch thick.
Top 5 signs that mean you to replace your car’s brake pads
1. Your brake light is on
If the car’s dashboard has the brake light on, that probably means that the car needs new break pads.
There could also be other reasons why the light turns on. For instance, there could be other parts that are failing.
If the brake light turns on, however, you should have it checked out by a qualified car technician.
2. You hear a squeak-like noise
Brake pads have a built-in indicator to let drivers know when they are really low and need to be replaced.
If your brake pads are not new, and you hear a squeak, hissing or other similar type of noise while braking, then it probably means you need new brake pads.
The noise means that that the brake pad is nearing (or has reached) its end of life, and the pad needs to be replaced.
3. Less than 1/4-inch remaining on brake pads
If your brake pads have less than 1/4-inch of life remaining, then you should replace them. This is a recommendation generally acceptable in the industry. As noted, this Chevy dealer will recommend to its customers to replace their brake pads if they are less than 1/4-inch thick.
4. You feel a pulsating or vibration when braking
Your car and/or brake pedal may vibrate when you brake. If so, then this is another reason to visit a shop and replace your brake pads and rotors.
This may mean that your rotors are warped which means your brake pads wore out unevenly, resulting in the vibration.
5. Takes longer to stop
Lastly, if you’ve noticed that it’s taking you longer to stop the car, then your car likely needs new brake pads.
There could still be life left on your brake pads, so this isn’t the case all of the time. For example, if you have 50% life remaining, it will probably take you longer in comparison to new brake pads.
It’s also challenging to keep track of this over time. How long it takes for a car to stop increases slowly over a period of time.
If you experience this sign in combination with at one one other sign noted above, you should have a qualified technician check your car’s brake system soon.
How long do car brake pads last?
It depends on the brand, type, and quality of the brake pads on your car, and the driving habits and demand placed on the brake system.
Generally speaking brake pads, brake pads can last anywhere between 30,000 and 70,000 miles of usage. As mentioned, this all depends on the brand, type, quality of the brake. Driving habits also have a significant factor on the brakes
How to know if you need new rotors?
Just like there are signs for brake pads, there are some signs that you need new rotors for your car. A car shop will let you know if you need new rotors as well, but here are 4 signs you can look out for.
4 Signs you need new car rotors
1. You feel a vibration when baking
During a normal drive, if you press the brakes and you feel a vibration in your brake pedal or steering wheel, then you likely need new brakes and rotors.
The vibration probably means that the car’s rotors have warped, which resulted in the brakes wearing out unevenly. Even if you install new brakes, the same issue will occur again because the rotors are still warped.
2. You hear a screeching noise
If you allowed your brake pads wore out completely, they could be in direct in contact with the brake pads. The noise you now hear is likely from that direct contact and, if so, it is damaging your car’s rotors.
3. There’s extreme rust on the rotors
Minor rust on a car’s rotors are OK and will eventually wear off as you drive. If there’s a lot of rust, however, then the rotors will need to be replaced as they are affecting your braking performance and can be dangerous. At the same time, it will probably speed up the wearing out of your brake pads, leading you to visit a car repair shop unexpectedly.
Can a car shop resurface car rotors?
Yes, a qualified technician can resurface car rotors.
However, this may not be the case in each instance. Especially, if the rotors have been resurfaced more than once before.
A car shop can resurface car rotors at least once. If a technician previously resurfaced car rotors, they may not be able to do it again.
A qualified technician can look at car rotors and make the best determination for you on whether to resurface again.
David is an avid car enthusiast. Whether it is classic muscle cars or electric vehicles, David loves everything about cars. Over the years David has bought and sold many cars, as a consumer, and take an active interest in car repair. Outside of cars, David loves to regularly bike to stay active!