Give Me a Brake! What does your vehicle really need?

Almost 4 to 5 times a day we get a call asking about brake pricing, the customer really does not know why they need brakes other than they were told they needed them replaced. So we can better understand their needs we ask a couple simple questions,

First off we always ask, what make and model the vehicle is, and the approximate mileage, 

1) do you know if it is front or rear that need replacement? 

2) do you know what your current brake pad thickness is? 

3) do you know if the brake rotors need replacement, now this is where it gets interesting, almost all of the callers have been told that the brake rotors need replacement. 

The latest call I received yesterday morning was a customer with a 3 year old Toyota with 28,000 miles on it. They were told they needed front and rear brakes with all 4 rotors needing replacement. I found it to be a little odd that a vehicle this new with only 28,000 miles needed these repairs. I discussed with the customer that I would like her to bring in the vehicle so we could perform a brake inspection and give her a second oppinion on her brake system. She seemed a little annoyed that we wanted to reinspect what the dealer already told her needed to be done, but agreed and brought the vehicle in this morning for a brake inspection. Another serviced writer greeted her at the counter and handed off the peprwork and keys to the technician performing the inspection. After a test drive and removal of the wheels we found something much different that what the customer was told. We found the front brakes to still have 7mm brake pad life remaining and the rear brakes to have 4mm brake pad life remaining. We also inspected and measured the brake rotors to find that the rotors were still in tolerance and had enough material left to machine at least once if not twice. 

This particular vehicle has a minimum pad wear out of 2mm, which means this vehicle was getting close to needing a rear brake service but wasn't quite there yet. The customer was more than thrilled with our findings and was now very happy that we wanted to perform an inspection and second oppinion. 

So why did another repair facility tell her that she needed brake service when she didn't and also require that the brake rotors needed replacement? 

I guess we are a litt "old school" 

What we have found in the past several years is that most facilities "sell" their customers brake rotors with every service, why is that? Well, with the cost of brake lathes and the time it takes to properly surface a rotor, most shops feel it is just easier and more cost efficient (for them not the customer) to just replace the brake rotors. 

That is where I have a problem, why are perfectly good parts being replaced? If a brake rotor can be surfaced why not save the customer the cost of replacing parts that the vehicle doesn't really need? 

I guess we are a little "old school" when it comes to service by replacing only what is needed and not "selling" additional parts because it saves us time and it makes more money. Now many other shops will argue this gact with me, that it is now stndard to replace the rotors everytime, and my arguement back is always, why? What has changed from 10, 20, even 30 years ago that it is neccessary to replace the brake rotors with every brake service? I know that the material being used is better then years past, the brake pads in most cases have better material and are not as "harsh" on the rotor, so why is the brake rotor to be replaced if its tolerance is within specification? 


Auto Care
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