By July 31, 2012 Read More →

What Should a Brake Job Cost

Austin: Enjoyed reading your e-books and seeing your approach to customer questions. Honest and forthright.

I have a fairly simple question: Chevy Silverado, 156.000 mi, quotes from my local independent mechanic for all brakes and muffler work was $2500+ depending on complications involved with an older truck. Decided to forge ahead with DIY efforts.

Replaced both front brakes and rotors (my son and I), everything went well. Considering doing the rear brakes and have lots of good advice on the web. It seems like it is complicated enough that I may run into problems and still need to take the truck to my local mechanic (who I have used for years and is terrific).

Question: Is replacing rear drum brakes and shoes likely to get me into trouble that will result in taking the truck to my mechanic anyway?

Thanks for your recommendations.



Hey there Bob,

Thanks for the email….and for checking your insurance rates.

The rear brakes can be a little tricky to get adjusted correctly without having them too tight and burn up your new brake shoes. That $2500 quote is WAYYYYYYYY to high.

I would charge you about $500 for the 4 wheel brake job (additional $150 if you need to replace the brake rotors instead of machining them smooth again) and about $525 for an aftermarket catalytic converter and muffler and pipes. You can get the muffler work done at a muffler shop and use aftermarket parts (not GM) and save a ton of cash.

I don’t see how the total repair could be more than $1300 on the high side.

Brake work is the most profitable repair in the shop….and I would suspect these guys really wanted to profit from you. As you probably found out if you bought the parts from your local auto supply….aftermarket brake parts are cheap!

I would buy the rear brake shoes, wheel cylinders and any rear axle seals depending on which type of axle you have and IF you need to remove the axles to get the drums off…..if you do, you need to replace the rear axle seals as well. If you have just a standard half ton, chances are you will not need the seals or have to remove the axles to get the drums off.

Buy your own parts and see if you can find a mechanic who will install them for you AND let you watch him, so you can do it next time. I would bet you could find someone to do this for about $150 in labor plus some brake fluid to bleed the brakes.

Pay special attention to how they adjust the rear adjusters and which brake shoe goes in front and which one goes in back.

I think its like riding a bike…once you do it once, its pretty easy.


Austin Davis


About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."

Comments are closed.