How Long Does It Take To Change Brakes? (Pads & Rotors)

Whether you’re a car owner who is planning to change your brakes at home or considering having a mechanic change the brakes for you, knowing the typical time it takes to change the brakes can help you plan your day or help you gauge whether the mechanic is taking longer than expected.

So how long does it take to change brakes? By reading this article you’ll learn not only how long it takes but also how much you can expect to pay for a brake replacement. We’ll also cover a few tips on how to make the process a lot more efficient if you decide to do the job yourself.

Let’s dive into it!

Overview of the Brake Change Process

When speaking of brake change or brake repair, the process typically involves replacing the brake pads and rotors. Although in some cases, other brake system components may also need to be replaced, such as the caliper or even the brake lines. If so, you’ll also need to bleed the brake system.

This is because the brake system is a closed system, and when you remove the caliper, air can enter the system and cause braking problems. Bleeding the brake system removes this air and restores the proper brake fluid pressure, ensuring that the brakes are functioning properly.

However, in this article we focus on brake pad and rotor replacement. This process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel that is being worked on.
  2. Use a jack to lift the vehicle and remove the wheel.
  3. Use a wrench to remove the caliper and caliper bracket.
  4. Use a C-clamp or brake piston tool to compress the brake piston back into the caliper.
  5. Remove the old brake pads and rotor.
  6. Install the new brake pads and rotor.
  7. Reassemble the caliper and caliper bracket.
  8. Install the wheel and lower the vehicle.
  9. Repeat the process for the remaining wheels.

How Long Does it Take for a Mechanic to Change Brakes?

If you’re having a mechanic change your brakes, they will charge you for 1 to 3 hours for a typical vehicle. This assumes that the mechanic has all the necessary tools and equipment (which they should have) but also the fact that the mechanic is experienced.

But, the exact time will vary depending on the vehicle type, the brake system’s condition, and the type of brake pads and rotors being installed.

For example, changing only the brake pads on a standard passenger vehicle may take 30 minutes to an hour, while changing the rotors as well may take closer to an hour to an hour and a half.

Performing a full brake job, which includes changing the brake pads, rotors, and calipers on all four wheels, can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours or more for a mechanic.

How Long Does it Take to Change Brakes at Home?

Changing the brakes at home can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. Of course this depends on your level of experience and the factors mentioned above. A brake pad replacement is usually quit simple and fast.

But for a full brake job, it usually takes between 4 and 8 hours for someone with moderate mechanical skills. And if it’s your first time doing a service brake, you may need to take it much slower to ensure everything is done properly and safely.

Factors that Affect the Time it Takes to Change Brakes

While there are many things that can affect the time it takes to change the brakes on a vehicle, the most typical factors are:

  • The type of vehicle: The type of vehicle is one of the biggest factors, as larger or more complex vehicles may require more time to work on.
  • Level of skill of the person doing the work: Who is doing the work is also important, as someone with more experience and expertise will be able to do the job faster and more efficiently.
  • Availability of necessary tools and equipment: If you’re changing the brakes at home, you may not have all the necessary tools to make the brake replacement efficient. So before starting, make sure you have all the tools and equipment you need for the process. This can save you time and frustration later on.
  • Condition of the brake system: The condition of the old brakes is often one of the biggest factors for how long it takes to change the brakes. If there’s a lot of rust and debris on the brake system, it may take longer to disassemble and clean it before installing the new components.
  • Type of brake system (e.g. disc brakes vs. drum brakes): It generally takes longer to change disc brakes than drum brakes. This is because disc brakes usually have more parts and require more disassembly and reassembly during the change process. In addition, disc brake systems often have more complex designs, which can add to the time it takes to change them. Drum brakes, on the other hand, are simpler in design and typically have fewer parts, which makes them quicker and easier to change.
  • Type of brake pads and rotors (e.g. standard vs. high performance): Finally, the type of brake pads and rotors being installed can affect the time it takes to change the brakes. Standard brake pads and rotors are typically the easiest and fastest to install, while high-performance pads and rotors may require more time and expertise to install properly.

What is the Most Time Consuming Aspect of Changing Brakes?

Overall, the most time-consuming aspect of changing brakes is disassembling and installing the new brake pads, rotor, or brake caliper. But as mentioned, the condition of the old brake system is going to play a big role.

Thus a brake replacement can be frustrating, it’s important to be careful and thorough when doing the job, as rushing can lead to mistakes and even unsafe driving conditions.

How Much Can I Expect to Pay for a Brake Replacement?

On average, you can expect to pay between $250 to $800 for a complete brake replacement, including the rotors, pads, and calipers, where the average cost of brake pad replacement is typically $75 to $200 per axle and $100 to $300 for rotors. The labor cost is usually from $80 to $200 per hour.

The brake calipers are typically the most expensive aspect of a brake repair, where a single caliper can cost up to $130 or more.

But in light of this, the caliper usually doesn’t have to be replaced as long as it doesn’t cause problems. This means you may get away with only replacing the brake pads or the rotors.

Note: This estimated cost can vary depending on the type of vehicle, the type of rotors, pads, and calipers being installed, and the labor costs of the mechanic or shop. You can also save some money by doing the work yourself.

How Do I Know if the Mechanic is Taking Too Long to Change the Brakes?

If you’re concerned that a mechanic is taking too long to change your brakes, you can always ask for an estimate of the time it will take and compare it to the actual time it takes. If the mechanic is consistently taking longer than expected, you may want to consider seeking the services of another mechanic or shop.

It’s generally a good idea to decide what is included in the price before the brake job. This can help ensure that you are aware of all the services and components that will be covered by the price and avoid surprises or misunderstandings.

It can also help you compare prices and services between different mechanics or shops and choose the one that best meets your needs and budget.

Tips for Making the Brake Change Process as Smooth and Efficient as Possible

If you decide to take on the job yourself, you can follow a few tips to make the brake change process as smooth and efficient as possible to save time.

First, refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for your vehicle’s brake system. This will provide important information about the type of brake pads and rotors that are recommended, as well as any specific instructions for changing the brakes.

You can also take a few minutes on your lunch break to watch tutorials on YouTube to learn more about changing brakes, which also often explain the steps in a clear and concise way.

Gather all the necessary tools and equipment before starting the process, and take your time to ensure that the job is done properly. If you’re unsure of how to do something, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from a more experienced person or a professional mechanic.

Finally, don’t forget to test the brakes after the change to ensure that they are functioning properly. Regular brake maintenance is essential for keeping your vehicle safe and reliable, so be sure to change your brakes when necessary and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for brake maintenance.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, changing the brakes on a vehicle is an important part of regular maintenance that can help ensure the safety and reliability of your vehicle. A normal brake replacement typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours for a mechanic and up to 3 hours or more for a person to do it at home, depending on a few factors.

If you consider replacing the brakes yourself, you’ll want to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. Therefore, be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations, watch tutorials, and plan the job in advance. And finally, take your time to do the job properly.

Thanks for reading!

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Rickard Cefalk

Rickard is the owner of and a dedicated and avid do-it-yourselfer who has always enjoyed working on his own vehicles since childhood. He now devotes his time to sharing his expert knowledge of car maintenance and other car-related information through his website.

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