Angie’s list interview transcript.

Mar 4, 2014 Comments Off on Angie’s list interview transcript. Brake Blog 20,299 Total Views  

Being the recipient of Angie’s List coveted Super Service Award for 2013 we were naturally asked to contribute to an Angie’s List publication that included some tips on brake repair. Our comments are in red. Here is the interchange….

From: Tom Moor []
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2014 2:27 PM
Subject: Angie’s List – Brake Pads

Hi Dan, I work as a staff writer for the Angie’s List Magazine. I write a weekly automotive column as well for our online site. This week I’m writing a story about brake pads and was hoping you would be one of my sources. For your time, we would quote you and put then name of you company in the article.

I’ll include a few questions that can be answered over email, and was wondering if you could also leave a number where I can contact you if I have additional questions.


Tom Moor, Staff Writer for Angie’s List

Hi Tom! Thanks for the opportunity to speak to the Angie’s List community.

Current disk brake system design has seen little change in the forty + years since they were introduced to passenger cars. They are simple, efficient systems that work hard under adverse conditions.

  1. How often should brake pads be replaced?

Brake pad life depends on many factors including how and where you drive, a hot footed teenager who races from stop light to stop light will need brakes more often than his granny driving on the highway even though they travel the same distance in the same car. High performance sports and luxury cars will go through brakes more often than popular family sedans and economy cars because the brakes are optimized to perform under extended periods of aggressive driving rather than provide the longest possible service intervals.

  1. How much do they cost?

Like most things in life you get what you pay for. For the same model of vehicle there are cheap brake pads and expensive brake pads with multiple “mid grade” selections in between. Cheap pads don’t last as long, can be noisy even when new and can overheat and “fade” under prolonged periods of heavy usage. High performance and luxury cars’ pads are the most expensive, even though there are variations within that segment. Cars like Accords Camrys Fusions Altimas and Impalas will generally run between $150-$175 per axle for expert brake pad replacement using original equipment equivalent parts, including parts, labor taxes and fees. BMW’s Mercedes Land Rover and Cadillac pads can run $225-$400 per axle. Dealers will charge between 30%-100% more. Luxury car dealers may even more. Most mid grade pads will accommodate most cars and most driving habits. The also likely meet the original equipment specification. There are pads that are better than what the manufacturer or dealer for that matter will put on a car.

  1. What are some signs they may need replaced?

Manufacturers incorporate one of two basic indicators that brake pads are nearing end of life and should be inspected and replaced as soon as practical. American and Japanese cars use a metal tab fastened to the pad assembly. As the pads thins and nears end of life the tab rubs against the disk making a squealing sound when the brakes are applied. The longer you wait the more piercing the squeal. European and higher performance cars use an electronic sensor instead of the metal tab. When the brakes thin the tab rubs against the disk breaking the contacts on the sensor and sending a message to the dashboard through the car’s computer. From first indication on either of these you can assume you have about 10% of the life remaining and in either case if you wait too long the brakes may begin to “grind” and worse transmit vibration through the pedal or steering wheel.

  1. Can you talk about how important brake pads are. If you wait too long I’m assuming it can lead to more expensive repairs?

Ignoring the tell take signs of pad wear can result in damage to a brake disk or rotor that otherwise might not have needed to be replaced. Pads and rotor replacement can double the cost of pad replacement alone. Gross neglect can damage the brake caliper resulting in brake failure.

A note about resurfacing or “turning” brake rotors (disks). Old school mechanics will insist on “turning’ rotors at every pad change. The advances in brake technology is less about the working system than it is the materials used. Disks are hard and pads are soft. This is what makes them work together. It is also what make noise. Back in the day turning the rotor reduced the likelihood of new brake pads making noise after the job was done and the car back to the customer. Resurfacing rotors involves removing material from the rotor face which while making it nice and smooth also makes it thinner weaker and less heat resistant than otherwise, resulting in replacement of the rotor sooner than necessary. Fortunately, the latest materials if selected properly will adapt to minor disk surface imperfections making it unnecessary to turn the disk. The point being that if brake pads are replaced timely most cars should be able to yield two pad changes for every one rotor.

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