The Complete Guide to Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement Costs

Having a quality set of fully functional brakes is essential for any type of vehicle. Anyone who’s had to slam on their brakes in a tight situation knows just how important it is to have the right stopping power at all times.

Your brake pads and rotors play a vital role in making sure your vehicle stops correctly during normal use or in an emergency situation. Your brake pads use friction to stop all four wheels so it’s only natural that these pads will wear down over time and need to be replaced periodically. Ignoring this issue could create a dangerous situation down the road.

Brake pad and rotor replacement costs will vary, but typically fall within a certain price range. For brake pads, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150.00 to $250.00 at a professional service shop. Rotors are a little more expensive, but don’t need to be changed as frequently. Having the rotors replaced, depending on the vehicle, will usually run anywhere from $301.00 to $900.14. This guide will help you learn more about how to find the best brake pad and rotor replacement costs in your area.



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How Does Your Braking System Work?

There are three main physical components to an automobile's disc braking system: the calipers, the brake pads, and the rotors. While calipers, which press the brake pads against the rotors, don't generally need to be replaced, the brake pads and brake rotors require regular maintenance and should be replaced when they begin to show wear.

Things to Keep in Mind


Keeping your automobile in good repair involves more than just changing the oil and fluids regularly and knowing when to take your car to a licensed mechanic for brake pad and rotor replacements can be tricky. This article will provide you with a better understanding of the functions of these components and the warnings that signal that you need to take your car to a professional.

Keeping up on brake pad and rotor maintenance is crucial for the safety of you and others on the roadway.

Brake Pads and Rotors: The Basics

When force is applied to the brake pedal of a vehicle in motion, a few things happen immediately:
  • Hydraulic fluid is released to activate the calipers (a type of piston)
  • The calipers press the brake pad against the rotor, creating friction
  • That friction stops the vehicle
This article focuses on disc brakes, the most standard brakes in vehicles today. It should be noted that automobiles are generally equipped with a separate, emergency brake that operates independently from the four-disc braking system in the event of a total brake failure. Taking care of your braking system will help ensure you're never in a position to need that emergency brake.


Brake Pads: The Basics

Disc brakes, as mentioned before, are the most common braking system in vehicles today. Drum brakes, which were phased out of production in the United States in the 1980s, are still used in parking brakes and emergency braking systems and require different consideration for replacement. Brake pads are the most common part of the braking system to be replaced.


Signs They Need to Be Replaced

The general recommendation is to have the braking system inspected by a professional every 10,000 miles. While brake pads should last anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles, a number of factors affect brake pad wear-and-tear. These factors include:

  • Type of driving: stop-and-go driving in the city wears brakes out quicker than highway driving
  • Driving style: applying brakes heavily or using them with unnecessary frequency in traffic wears them down more rapidly
  • The type of vehicle: Heavier vehicles often require more frequent brake pad replacement.

Vehicles typically signal that brake pads need to be replaced through the exposure of a small metal tab. When this tab is exposed, one of two things can happen:

  • The tab produces a loud squealing or screeching noise
  • The tab induces an alert light to appear on the dashboard

Either of these occurrences during braking is a sign that you should take your vehicle to a certified mechanic to have your brake pads examined.


Other signs can include:

  • Brakes or vehicle pulling to one side
  • The brake pedal trembling when pressed
  • The steering wheel vibrating

Finally, to manually check your brake pads you can jack up a front wheel on your vehicle and remove it. This will give you access to the brake mechanism. If the brake pad is less than 3mm thick, it is time to have it replaced.



Brake pad replacement costs can be affected by a number of things including the make and model of the vehicle, the year it was manufactured, and the brand of brake pads that you choose.

Replacement brake pads for luxury vehicles often cost more than brake pads for mainstream models. Additionally, brake pads and rotors for vehicles with more than two axles (the standard number for most automobiles, pickup trucks, and SUVs) will cost more to replace.

Brake pads could cost anywhere from under $50 to over $350 for two axles, depending on the type of vehicle you own. Labor cost will also vary depending on the requirements of the vehicle.



Brake Rotors: The Basics

In the braking system, the brake rotor is what the brake pad presses against to produce the friction to stop the vehicle. The brake rotor is most commonly a smooth rotor but drilled brake rotors and slotted brake rotors are also available and are likely to cost more.
  • Drilled rotors have small holes drilled in them to help disperse the heat generated by the friction and remove water
  • Slotted rotors have slots carved in them to serve the same purpose


Signs They Need to Be Replaced

Like brake pads, the brake rotors can display a number of replacement warnings. However, these signs can mimic those of the brake pads, including:
  • Squealing, screeching or grinding sounds when the brake pedal is pressed
  • Trembling in the brake pedal when it is pressed
  • Trembling or shaking in the steering wheel or vehicle

When any of these symptoms appear, or every 10,000 miles, you should have your brake system checked by a professional to determine the wear on the brake rotors.




Rotor replacement cost tends to be more than brake pad replacement costs. The good news is that rotors can be resurfaced, and rotor replacement is not as common as brake pad replacement. Still, the same factors affect rotor replacement cost as affect the cost of brake pad replacements.

These include: vehicle make and model, manufacturer, and the vehicle's production year. Another consideration is whether you will be using a drilled and/or slotted rotor, which will typically cost a bit more than a smooth rotor.


The Bottom Line

It’s always best to take your automobile to a professional to get your brake pads and rotors inspected and replaced. Brake pad replacement cost and rotor replacement cost can depend on a number of above-mentioned factors. Having a professional guide you through these choices helps to ensure that your vehicle will continue to be operationally safe.



Let Blitzify Help You

Use Blitzify’s automotive repair cost calculator to find a shop in your area. We put all the crucial information right at your fingertips. You’ll see which shops closest to you are offering the service you need and how much the brake pad replacement or rotor replacement will cost.

Every day we help visitors just like you learn more about automotive repair costs and find a great repair shop to get the job done at a great price.