I am writing this, angrily, while sitting in a car shop having my Audi’s brake pads and rotors replaced. I’ll explain why I’m angry (not with the shop, but by my failed oversight and gamble.) Yesterday, I told you about how I got some new tires installed for my Audi, and while installing them, I found out my car needed new brake pads.
Brake pads vs Brake pads AND Rotors
The guy who installed my tires told me I would need new rotors too due to a ‘lip’ in the rotors. The rotors for my car were about $400 online for some slotted rotors, and the brake pads I bought were about $150.
Usually, when your brakes start to squeal, that means you need to replace them ASAP. If you don’t drive them too hard, you may not need to replace your rotors. However, if you wait too long and now your brake pads are grinding up against your rotors, your rotors could warp and now you need to replace the rotors too. You DO NOT want to do that due to the cost of the rotors.
So I did what every millennial does these days – I looked on the Audi forums to see if I really needed new rotors. The consensus was – if your rotors aren’t vibrating and don’t look too damaged, you can get by with just replacing the pads. COOL! So I bought some fancy brake pads online.
“We don’t install customer parts”
Now that I had the brake pads in hand, I needed someone to install them. Some people were able to do it themselves online, which I considered. However, due to my Audi, I’d need a special tool to withdraw the rear brake calipers, which at that point, was just too much for me to DIY. I then called up some local shops that had high Yelp ratings, and 1 of them said they don’t install customer parts. I emailed quotes from 2 other guys, but they were pretty expensive (around $400 to install the pads). My frame of reference was my tire-guy, who said he could install both pads and rotors for $270. However, I was hesitant in asking him for a quote on just pads-only, since he had told me he’d only replace BOTH pads and rotors.
Audi wanted something like $1200 to install both pads and rotors and for sure, I couldn’t bring in my own parts. Eventually, I found a high performance shop here in Seattle called Achtung that had good reviews from the Audi forums. I called them up and they told me it’d cost $285 to replace the brake pads. DONE! I had to schedule 3 weeks out though, but it was fine.
“You’ll need new rotors”
The day came for me to install my brake pads. After signing some paper work, I went to sit down. You know how in oil shops, you wait for your oil change, and you DREAD when the mechanic tells you to come out and take a look at your car because he’s trying to upsell you on something? Well, sure enough, it happened here. It wasn’t that the shop was trying to upsell me. It was that I didn’t realize the lip in the rotor meant it needed to be replaced. See, if there is a lip in the rotor, that means the rotor has worn enough to the point that it should be replaced.
I then asked him how much it would cost to replace the rotors with the additional labor cost. It went from $270 up to $900, an increase of $630. All in all, I wasn’t mad at the labor price. I was mad that I could have bought better and cheaper rotors online if I had done it in the first place. And now here I am angry at myself for not having bought those rotors. I could have saved $300 PLUS gotten better and cooler looking slotted rotors. What I should have done was just bought the rotors online and paid the return shipping fee if I didn’t need them. By the way, regardless of where I bought the pads and rotors, in my case, I still would have taken it to Achtung instead of the tire-guy. I felt the tire-guy wouldn’t know the intricacies of the Audi S5 and the rear brake caliper issue, so I was more than willing to pay more to Achtung since they work on Audi cars all the time. I may be frugal, but I also appreciate paying more for reliable service.
- When your brakes start to squeal, go check your brakes and your brake pads!
- You may or may not need to replace your rotors. Some people can get up to 75K miles with the original rotors. Check your car’s forum online
- If you do need to replace your pads and/or rotors, to save on money, order them online and call around locally to see who could install them for you. Stress that you bought name brand ones and not cheapo ones.
- When buying a used car with 30K miles, expect you’ll have to replace the tires, pads and rotors, which could run an extra $1-2K depending on the car