Q: New brakes

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Went for A1 oil change. No problems with brakes however it does have 48000 miles. Upon inspection mechanic tells me I need all new brakes and rotors. No idiot light came on ... no squeal or pulsing. Why would my car need $1200 worth of brake work when I was having no problem?

My car has 48000 miles.

On a relatively new car such as yours, the need for "brake work" is typically determined based on a visual check of "depth of remaining pad friction material". Brake pads are still generally good so long as there is at least 1 or 2 millimeters of friction material left. Once, you get below that lower limit, the brakes must be refurbished. The best strategy in dealing with a shop is to just simply ask the technician to show you the depth, in millimeters, of pad material left. It is very, very easy to view once the wheel/tire assembly is off the car and obviously you know what 1 to 2 millimeters looks like. If the pads are not worn to that "limit" you have nothing to worry about.

As far as the $1,200 for "brake refurbishment", that’s a sum that we refer to (technically, in Economics) as "economically irrational", that is there is no rational (logical) relationship between the work and materials needed to restore the brakes on your particular (newer) vehicle to like new condition and the "sum" of $1,200. And, that is precisely why you should stay away from shops and instead avail yourself of certified, vetted Mechanics who can, on a personal level, get this work done for you, usually in a more technically proficient (complete, accurate, etc.) manner and at lower cost. When you do need brakes, be sure the rotors are turned or replaced, and that the sliding caliper pins are removed, thoroughly cleaned and re-greased with special purpose, high temperature brake grease. You probably do not need new calipers (beyond 100,000 miles, replacement is a given if you want to avoid headaches). Ideally, the brake fluid should be thoroughly removed at all four wheels, which is not hard to do with a portable pressure bleeder. Anything short of what I just described will not give you the results that you want or deserve and all of the foregoing costs way, way less than $1,200. In fact, if you gave the job to me at $1,200, I’d probably take the subsequent month off and go to the beach. When you do need brakes, simply request brake pad replacement but be sure to indicate that the brake rotors have to be dealt with as well (turn or replace) and you want the old brake fluid removed, too. If you have additional technical concerns, please do not hesitate to re-contact us.

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