How Much Does A Brake Pad Replacement Cost in Chattanooga?

How much is brake repair in Chattanooga | What is the best place for brake repair in Chattanooga? | Tips for choosing a brake repair shop in Chattanooga | Chattanooga brake repair FAQs

With incredible outdoor activities, a world class aquarium, and some of the most scenic views around, Chattanooga is not the place you want your plans put on hold due to faulty brakes. But finding a mechanic to entrust with your vehicle can be challenging, especially with the number of independent repair shops and larger retail chains to choose from in the Chattanooga area. 

When it comes to maintaining your brakes, you want to look for a repair shop that offers transparent pricing, quality parts and service, and trustworthy advice without the upselling you see at a lot of repair shops. You also want to know you’re getting a reasonable deal when it comes to the amount you’ll pay out the door. 

Below, we break down how much it costs for brake repair in Chattanooga and offer a list of some of Chattanooga’s top repair shops based on pricing, services, and real customer reviews. 

How much is brake repair in Chattanooga?

If you’ve ever shopped around for pricing on brake repairs, you’ve probably noticed that no two estimates are the same. Some of the factors that influence the price of brake repairs include:

  • Shop fees and labor costs
  • Vehicle year, make, and model
  • The quality of parts used
  • Whether the shops resurfaces or replaces rotors
  • Type of warranty included with the service

How much for new brake pads in Chattanooga?

When calling around to brake repair shops in Chattanooga, starting prices for brake pad replacement ranged from $89.95 for 1-year warranty brake pads all the way up to $189 for lifetime warranty brake pads. 

Out the door estimates that included parts and labor on lifetime warranty brake pads were higher, ranging from to $180 to $300 or more, depending on the vehicle. 

How much for new brake pads and rotors in Chattanooga?

Price quotes for both brake pad and rotor replacement ranged from $259 all the way up to $471 per axle, depending on the shop and the different makes and models quoted. However, starting estimates typically jumped to the $350+ range for a quote that included lifetime warranty brake pads. 

While some shops declined to provide a quote over the phone, here’s the range of estimates we received for two of the more popular vehicles on the road. The estimates include parts and labor on lifetime warranty brake pads.

Typical Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement Costs in Chattanooga

Brake Pads Brake Pads & Rotors

Ford F-150 - Pickup

$180-$300

$385-$471

Nissan Altima - Sedan

$140-$260

$350-$429

Want accurate pricing out of the gate?

Get in touch for a free, no-obligation price quote provided quickly over-the-phone. Our technicians will do a free, onsite brake inspection to verify the exact repairs needed and let you decide on the work you want done.

Enter your car’s make and model to start your quote>>

What is the Best Place for Brake Repair in Chattanooga?

There are dozens of brake repair shops in Chattanooga competing for your business. Some lead with low advertised prices to lure customers through the door, while others lean on their reputation for offering great customer service. 

Some of the more popular brake repair services in Chattanooga include Budget Brakes, Firestone Auto Repair, Maxi Auto Service, Midas, and Brakes for Less. Each has multiple brake repair service locations throughout the Chattanooga area, with customer ratings varying from shop to shop. In addition to offering different pricing tiers depending on the quality and warranty that come with the parts, most brake repair shops in Chattanooga also offer some kind of service special or coupon that can be applied toward brake service. 

Below is a side-by-side comparison of brake repair service centers in Chattanooga. While not every independent shop can be covered here, these are some of the most well-known brake shops in the Chattanooga area based on search data from Google.

Brake Repair Shops in Chattanooga

Data last updated on 10/15/2021

Budget Brakes

Firestone

Maxi Auto Service

Midas

Brakes for Less

Average Customer Rating on Google

3.7-4.2/5

3.9-4.1/5

3.8-4.6/5 

3.8-4.7/5

3.7-4.3/5

Number of Locations in Chattanooga

2

3

8

3

2

Quoted starting price for brake service (pads & rotors)

Not provided without inspection

$350+ 

$300+ 

$350+ 

$259-$359+ 

Brake Inspection Cost

Free

$20; waived with repairs

Free

$29.99; waived with repairs

Free

Advertised Coupons

$15 off brake repair

Free brake inspection + $40 off per axle

“We beat all written competitor estimates and accept competitor coupons”

Free brake check + $50 off brake repair

15% off any competitors written estimate

Brake Pad Warranty

Lifetime*

*Lifetime (with 1 year, 2 year, and lifetime warranty options for labor)

3 yr/36,000 miles

Lifetime*

Lifetime/24,000 miles* (when you also replace rotors)

*Lifetime warranties generally cover the replacement or repair of a newly installed part that fails due to a defect in materials or workmanship under normal use. However, warranty terms and restrictions vary and may not cover the costs of associated labor or other brake system components such as rotors, calipers, or master cylinders. Be sure to ask the individual shop for more detailed information about the warranty.

Brakes for Less in Chattanooga

Brakes For Less is a growing auto repair chain with two franchise locations in the Chattanooga area. They provide a full range of front-end mechanical repairs and advertise free brake checks and a 2 year/24,000 miles guarantee on qualifying repairs and services. Their shop hours vary slightly by location, but both are open six days a week, with reduced hours on Saturdays. Their website advertises same-day service and 15% off any competitor’s written estimate. 

🌍 Locations ⌛ Service Hours ⭐  Average Google Rating

4823 Brainerd Rd.

Chattanooga, TN 37411

(423) 760-3071

shopbrakesforless.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 2PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  3.7/5 (86 reviews)

5309 TN-153

Hixson, TN 37343

(423) 269-7800

shopbrakesforless.com 

Mon-Fri - 7:30AM - 5:30PM

Sat - 7:30AM - 3PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.3/5 (49 reviews)

How much is brake repair at Brakes for Less in Chattanooga?

When asked how much they charge for brake pad and rotor replacement, Brakes for Less’s Brainerd Road location quoted a starting price range of $259-$359. However, reviews left by customers on Google indicate that out-the-door pricing for front brakes and rotors is closer to $420-$450. 

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Brakes for Less Customer Reviews

Overall, customer ratings for Brakes for Less in Chattanooga are mixed across locations, with averages ranging from 3.7 at their Brainerd Road location to 4.3 at their Hixson location. So, what are customers saying about brake repair at Brakes for Less in Chattanooga? 

Positive Reviews: Good pricing, speedy service

The most common theme among positive Brakes for Less reviews is great service that gets you in and out quickly.

Here are examples of positive Brakes for Less reviews from customers who were pleased with their overall experience.

brakes for less - positive review - fast service.pngbrakes for less - positive review - in and out quickly.png

Negative Reviews: Higher-than-quoted pricing and spotty workmanship

Negative Brakes for Less reviews point to sometimes careless workmanship and pricing that doesn’t quite match what’s advertised. 

Here’s an example of a middling Brakes for Less review from a customer who claims to have been charged more than what they were originally quoted. 

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Other reviews, such as the one below, mention a lack of care when it comes to installing parts. 

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>> Tip: If you see a red flag in a customer review but everything else seems okay, call up the shop and ask how they dealt with the situation. Mistakes happen, but a good repair shop will stand behind their work. That includes fixing anything that’s broken as a result of faulty labor. 

Maxi Auto Service in Chattanooga

In business since 1980, Maxi Auto Service is a family-owned automotive service chain with eight locations throughout Chattanooga and the surrounding area. They offer a wide range of auto services, from brake pad replacement to complete engine overhauls, and are open for repairs every day but Sunday. Like Brakes for Less, Maxi Auto Service offers to beat written price quotes from competitors (though not by a specific percentage). Their Google Business Profile also mentions free estimates and the ability to provide same-day service on most vehicles.

🌍 Locations

⌛ Service Hours

⭐  Average Google Rating

7501 E Brainerd Rd,

Chattanooga, TN 37421

(423) 894-8699

maxicarcareeastbrainerd.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 3PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  3.8/5 (105 reviews)

5407 Ringgold Rd,

Chattanooga, TN 37412

(423) 894-9604

maxicarcareeastridge.com 

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 3PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.5/5 (190 reviews)

3540 Broad St, 

Chattanooga, TN 37409

(423) 265-0834

maxicarcarebroadst.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 3PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.1/5 (172 reviews)

6673 Lee Hwy, 

Chattanooga, TN 37421

(423) 899-8088

maxicarcareleehighway.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 3PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.6/5 (117 reviews)

4986 TN-58, 

Chattanooga, TN 37416

(423) 892-6159

maxicarcarehighway58.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 3PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.3/5 (110 reviews)

4007 Dayton Blvd,

Chattanooga, TN 37415

423) 877-0987

maxicarcareredbank.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 3PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.4/5 (153 reviews)

5229 Hixson Pike, 

Hixson, TN 37343

(423) 877-5569

maxicarcarehixson.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 3PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.4/5 (90 reviews)

2527 Lafayette Rd, 

Fort Oglethorpe, GA 30742

(706) 861-3918

maxicarcarefortoglethorpe.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 3PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.0/5 (121 reviews)

How much is brake repair at Maxi Auto Service in Chattanooga?

For front brake pad replacement, Maxi Auto Service quoted a starting price of $89.95 for standard pads and $139.99 for lifetime warranty pads. However, you should expect the out-the-door pricing to be higher. Front brake pad and rotor replacement on a 2016 Nissan Rogue was quoted over the phone at $428.93. 

Maxi Auto Service Reviews

Customer ratings for Maxi Auto Service in Chattanooga vary by location and range from 3.8 at their East Brainerd location to 4.6 at their Lee Highway location. 

Positive Reviews: Fast and friendly service, reasonable prices

Positive Maxi Auto Care reviews call attention to their fast and friendly service, which has earned the loyalty of several longtime customers.

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Negative Reviews: Charging more than quoted and recommending unnecessary repairs

Among negative reviews for Maxi Auto Service, the most common theme is trying to upsell and charge for extra repairs. Here are a couple of examples of customer reviews citing attempts to replace parts that other mechanics said didn’t need to be fixed.

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maxi - negative review - charged for parts didn-t need.png

>> Tip: Wear and tear on brake pads and rotors is visible. If you suspect that your brakes are still in good working order, ask the mechanic to show you the measurements on your brake pads before agreeing to have them replaced. If you have upwards of 5-7mm of thickness, you probably still have some mileage to get out of them. Less than about 4mm left on your brake pads means it's time for new ones. Similarly, worn out rotors will tend to have noticeable grooves or a lip around the edge--possibly even cracks and rust.

Midas in Chattanooga

Midas is a nationwide automotive service chain with three locations in the Chattanooga area. Their brake services come with a limited lifetime warranty on parts, with multiple warranty options on labor. Their website advertises free brake checks and $50 off brake repair service, as well as the option to have a team member pick up and drop off your car to be serviced. They also offer financing options that allow you to pay for repairs in installments.

🌍 Locations

⌛ Service Hours

⭐  Average Google Rating

5951 Brainerd Rd,

Chattanooga, TN 37421

(423) 668-0531

midas.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 2PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.5/5 (178 reviews)

1722 Market St, 

Chattanooga, TN 37408

(423) 265-2251

midas.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 5PM

Sat - 8AM - 2PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  3.8/5 (108 reviews)

5231 TN-153, 

Hixson, TN 37343

(423) 702-6120

midas.com

Mon-Fri - 8AM - 6PM

Sat - 8AM - 5PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  4.7/5 (178 reviews)

How much is brake repair at Midas in Chattanooga?

When asked for an estimate over the phone, the quoted starting price for new front brake pad replacement at Midas’ Hixson location was $200, which includes the cost of labor and resurfacing rotors. 

When asked how much they charge for both brake pad and rotor replacement on a 2016 Nissan Rogue, they gave a starting price range of $350-$400 per axle. 

Midas Chattanooga Customer Reviews

Overall, customer ratings for Midas in Chattanooga are mixed across locations, with averages ranging from 3.8 at their Market Street location to 4.7 at their Hixson location.

Positive Reviews: Fast service and fair prices coupled with financing options

Positive Midas reviews mention fast and friendly service (particularly at specific locations), as well as financing options that make brake repairs easier on your wallet.

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Negative Reviews: Excessive charges at some locations

Negative reviews for Midas in Chattanooga mention being charged above what was quoted.

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One specific review mentions a customer being charged excessively for services that were either not performed or not needed.

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>> Tip: Before agreeing to any repairs, be sure to ask what is included in the cost estimate and have the mechanic to call before performing any additional work not outlined in the original quote.

Budget Brakes in Chattanooga

Budget Brakes is a regional automotive repair shop with two locations in the Chattanooga area. Their shop hours vary slightly by location, but all are closed on Sunday. As one of their key selling points, their website advertises 15% off any competitor’s written estimate. 

🌍 Locations ⌛ Service Hours ⭐  Average Google Rating

3903 Brainerd Rd,

Chattanooga, TN 37411

(423) 624-3370

budgetbrakes.com 

Mon-Fri - 7:30AM - 5PM

Sat - 7:30AM - 5PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  3.8/5 (191 reviews)

5233 Hixson Pike,

Hixson, TN 37343

(423) 870-9940

budgetbrakes.com 

Mon-Fri - 7:30AM - 5PM

Sat - 7:30AM - 5PM

Sun - Closed

⭐  3.7/5 (138 reviews)

How much is brake repair at Budget Brakes in Chattanooga?

While Budget Brakes declined to provide a specific pricing estimate over the phone, their advertised price for new brake pads is $89.99. However, customer reviews show that actual transaction prices may be significantly higher. For example, the following customer review indicates that actual costs range from $120 for basic brake pads to $260 for higher quality brake pads recommended for that customer’s specific vehicle. 

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Budget Brakes Chattanooga Customer Reviews

Customer ratings for Budget Brakes in Chattanooga are fairly consistent across locations, with their Brainerd Road shop averaging a 3.8 out of 5 and their Hixson location averaging a 3.7 out of 5 across 100+ customer reviews. 

Positive Reviews: Efficient service and willingness to work with your budget

Positive Budget Brakes reviews mention fast and friendly service, and a willingness to stay within a given budget. 

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This following positive review mentions that the customer’s brake service included machining his worn out rotors, which some shops offer to do as a money-saving tactic. However, this may mean that the rotors will wear out more quickly, and it’s worth mentioning that many brake pad warranties require that you replace the rotors alongside subsequent brake pad replacements.

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Negative Reviews: “Bait and switch” pricing

The most consistent theme running across Budget Brakes’ negative reviews is “bait and switch” pricing. Here is a representative review from a customer who claims they were charged $180 to replace their front brake pads, which is twice the price he saw advertised on their website.

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>> Tip: To avoid bait and switch pricing on brake repair, be sure to ask specifically what is included in the price you are quoted over the phone, including the accompanying warranty. Also be sure to ask about the type and brand of brake component being being quoted. Generally, starting prices are going to be for standard or discount parts made of lower quality materials, while those that come with decent longevity are going to run much higher. 

Firestone in Chattanooga

Firestone is a national automotive repair chain with three service centers in the Chattanooga area. While best known for tires, they also offer an array of maintenance and repair services including brakes, oil changes, batteries, and alignment. Their website advertises $40 off brake repair on each axle, which can be applied at any of their Chattanooga locations. 

🌍 Locations ⌛ Service Hours ⭐  Average Google Rating

2205 Hamilton Pl Blvd,

Chattanooga, TN 37421

(423) 409-9095

firestonecompleteautocare.com

Mon-Fri - 7AM - 7PM

Sat - 7AM - 6PM

Sun - 8AM - 5PM

⭐  4.0/5 (310 reviews)

1721 Market St, 

Chattanooga, TN 37408

(423) 265-2251

firestonecompleteautocare.com

Mon-Fri - 7AM - 7PM

Sat - 7AM - 6PM

Sun - 8AM - 5PM

⭐  4.1/5 (133 reviews)

1915 Northpoint Blvd, 

Hixson, TN 37343

(423) 933-2016

firestonecompleteautocare.com

Mon-Fri - 7AM - 7PM

Sat - 7AM - 6PM

Sun - 8AM - 5PM

⭐  3.9/5 (210 reviews)

How much is brake repair at Firestone in Chattanooga?

For front brake pad replacement, Firestone quoted a starting price of $80-$100 for standard, with rotors starting at $100-$150. Complete brake service including pad and rotor replacement averages $350 to $450.

A more precise estimate for front brake pad and rotor replacement on a 6 cylinder Ford F-150 was quoted over the phone at $471. They also mentioned a savings of about $180 if you opt to resurface rotors over replacing them.

Firestone Chattanooga Customer Reviews

Customer ratings for Budget Brakes in Chattanooga are fairly consistent across locations, with their Brainerd Road shop averaging a 3.8 out of 5 and their Hixson location averaging 3.7 out of 5 over 100+ customer reviews. 

Positive Reviews: Professional, helpful service that is well worth the price 

Common themes in positive Firestone reviews include good customer service, which has earned them the loyalty (and 5-star ratings) of several longtime customers. 

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Negative Reviews: Slow service on non-tire related maintenance

By far, the most common theme among negative Firestone reviews is slow service, especially on repairs involving something other than tires. 

firestone - negative review - extremely slow service.pngfirestone - negative review - slow service.png

>> Tip: If time is of the essence, consider skipping the brake shop and scheduling convenient mobile brake repair done on your timeline, right at your home or office. 

Tips for Choosing a Brake Repair Shop in Chattanooga

When working with a repair shop, the experience you receive depends on a lot of moving parts. How busy the shop is when you bring in your vehicle, the pricing and availability of parts needed for the job, the customer service you receive at the front desk, and the quality of work provided by the individual mechanic all come into play. There can also be surprises lurking behind your hubcaps that a shop won’t be able to diagnose until a mechanic gets in there to take a look. 

When you receive a quote, be sure you're comparing apples to apples

When a repair shop offers significantly lower prices on brake repair, they may be cutting corners on the quality of their parts used. Or, they may lure you in the door with lower pricing and then up the costs by showing you the pricing for quality parts that are recommended for your particular vehicle. In order to evaluate if you’re getting apples to apples with different brake repair shops, consider taking the following steps:

  • Ask for an estimate with a breakdown of parts and labor. Also ask for clarification on whether that estimate is what you can expect to pay out the door, or if there will be additional shop fees and taxes added on at the time of service. Some shops will also offer to beat a competitor’s written estimate, so if you have time to shop around, this can be a great tool for getting a decent deal on brake service.
  • Ask about the type of brake pad included with the estimate. We recommend semi-metallic or ceramic over organic brake pads, which tend to wear down faster and give off more noise and dust in the process. Often, repair shops will advertise brake pad replacement starting in the $75-$100 range; however, this is almost always for subpar quality organic pads that give off dust and wear down faster. More durable brake pads will generally cost upwards of $150 to replace, and some shops will simply quote you for this higher quality service upfront.
  • Ask what brand of brake pad and rotor will be used. CarQuest, Brembo, Akebono, Raybestos, Bosch, and Wagner are among the more well-known and trusted brands in the industry.
  • Avoid choosing a brake service based on a “lifetime” warranty. Often, repair shops will try to upsell brake service by offering a lifetime warranty on the brake pads. However, lifetime warranties often come with a laundry list of exclusions, so don’t assume you’ll be  able to walk in at any time and ask for free brakes. Instead, choose a brake repair service offering quality brake pads at a decent price. Most will come with a reasonable warranty indicating the shop owner will stand behind their work and fix any issue caused by defective parts or faulty installation.

Read customer reviews for any red flags

When looking at customer reviews, you want to see a pattern of good customer service, quality repair work, and honest pricing. This is especially true when considering a brake repair service whose prices are well below their competitors. Often, the prices advertised to get customers in the door are for poorer quality brakes that are not recommended for most vehicles. Reviews that repeatedly mention bait and switch pricing are pretty good indicators that you are going to end up paying more for brake repair than you were originally quoted. 

Also watch out for reviews that mention upselling or recommending unnecessary repairs. A good repair shop will give you a thorough breakdown of what’s going on with your vehicle, but they’ll also consider your budget. They’ll advise you on what maintenance is actually needed to stay safe on the road, and what you can probably hold off on in order to get the most use out of a part before replacing it. If a repair shop hands you an estimate with a laundry list of parts that need replacing, consider holding off on any repairs until you get a second opinion.  

Get an honest diagnosis and transparent pricing on brake repair>>

Ask questions about the warranty

Many brake repair shops sell more expensive, premium brake pads by offering a lifetime warranty on the partst. In fact, when calling around to shops in the Chattanooga area, starting prices for lifetime warranty pads were often as much as $50 or more higher than for those with a standard warranty. 

Sample brake pad costs for standard vs. lifetime warranty

Cost with Discount Brake Pads

Cost with Lifetime Warranty Brake Pads

Budget Brakes

$89.99

$160.00

Midas

$99.99

$200.00

Maxi Auto Care

$89.95

$139.95

Often, however, these “lifetime” warranties come with conditions and limitations that prevent customers from being able to take full advantage of what they think they’re paying for. Many brake service providers will not cover damage to a brake pad caused by another part of the brake system, such as a warped rotor. Others will only cover labor for a limited time, usually 3-12 months, if at all. Walk into one of these shops on any given day, and you can probably find a customer arguing that their warranty isn’t being honored.

If you’re paying a decent amount of money for brake service, you should know what the warranty does and does not cover. Here are a few good questions to ask about warranties when comparing brake service estimates:

  • How many months and miles does the warranty cover?
  • Does the warranty cover labor as well as parts?
  • How long does the warranty cover labor?
  • Is the warranty unconditional? 
  • What are the exceptions under the warranty?
  • Does the warranty cover damage incurred under severe driving conditions?
  • What is considered severe driving conditions?
  • Is the part still covered under warranty if damage is caused by another faulty part?

Watch out for pricing that seems too good to be true

The average brake pad replacement costs anywhere from $160.00 to $300.00, depending on the part quality and vehicle type. Many Chattanooga brake repair shops decline to provide over-the-phone pricing estimates, claiming that the only way to get an accurate quote is to bring your car into the shop for an inspection.

While it’s true that a visual inspection is necessary to confirm the specific repair work that needs to be done, a trustworthy repair shop should have no hesitation when it comes to providing you with a baseline pricing scenario, especially when you ask about specific services, such as new pads and rotors on your particular make and model. A decent brake shop should also be able to tell you exactly what’s included in the estimate, such as parts, labor, taxes and warranty.

When choosing a brake repair shop, scope out customer reviews and steer clear of any shops where there’s a theme of bait and switch pricing. By contrast, when you see reviews that mention that the price quoted was the price they actually paid, chances are you’ve found a shop that deals honestly with their customers. 

Get a fast, upfront pricing estimate on mobile brake repair in your area 

NuBrakes offers quality, affordable brake repair in Chattanooga, completed at your home or office by our ASE-certified technicians.

  • Fast, over-the-phone quote
  • Free inspection included with repairs
  • Premium brake parts from trusted brands
  • Backed by Nubrakes’ 2-year/ 24,000 mile warranty
  • Servicing the Chattanooga area 7 days a week

Get a free, no-obligation quote on mobile brake repair in Chattanooga>>

Chattanooga Brake Repair FAQs

What’s typically included with a brake service in Chattanooga?

A typical brake service will start with an inspection to check on the condition of your various components. While most repair shops will charge a fee for this, usually anywhere from $20-$80, it is usually waived if you move forward with repairs. Once your mechanic has checked your brake system, they will make recommendations on what parts need to be replaced or repaired. They might even show you certain elements of your brake system, like the condition of your rotors or how much brake pad you have left to wear through. (If the thickness of your brake pads is less than 4mm, it's probably time to have them replaced.) Common brake services performed in Chattanooga include:

  • Brake inspection and diagnosis
  • Brake pad or brake shoe replacement
  • Brake rotor resurfacing or replacement
  • Brake fluid flushing or exchange
  • Brake line leak repair

Some shops will recommend resurfacing your brake rotors when replacing your brake pads, while others will recommend having them replaced. The cost of the service will vary accordingly, with resurfacing generally being less expensive in the short-term (although resurfacing tends to cause both the rotors and pads to wear down faster, so you'll probably need to have them replaced again sooner). There may also be extra charges for topping off your brake fluid if the fluid level is low. Before agreeing to repairs, be sure to ask your shop what's included in the service estimate provided and if there are any additional charges (like shop fees or brake fluid replacement) you should expect. 

How do you know if you need new brake pads?

Every time you apply the brakes, your brake pads wear down just a bit. Sometimes you’ll also hear grinding or feel a vibration while applying the brakes. Those are sign that you may also need to  repair or replace your brake rotors. Eventually a wear indicator starts squeaking to tell you it’s time to replace the brake pads.  Apart from bringing your car to a shop to have a mechanic examine brake pad thickness, more telltale signs that it’s time to replace your brakes include:

  • Squeaking or squealing from your breaks
  • Grinding sound when breaking
  • Vibration in the steering wheel or brake pedal while braking
  • Taking longer to stop
  • Brake system indicator light comes on
  • Your brake pads appear to be thin (usually less than ¼ inch or 6.4 mm)

Do you have to replace rotors when installing new brake pads?

It used to be that you could count on brake rotors to last two-to-three times longer than your brake pads. However, newer cars tend to come with thinner, lighter rotors designed around fuel economy. Their life span depends on a number of factors, including the material quality, your personal driving style, and the climate and conditions you drive in (i.e., light traffic vs. mostly stop-and-go). 

Many brake repair shops will offer to resurface or “turn” your rotors as a cost-saving measure when replacing your brake pads. This process involves using a machine to shave off the uneven parts of the rotor so that your new brake pads will be hitting a smooth surface. While machined rotors may give you a few thousand extra miles of use, there are some potential cons to consider with this approach.

Pros of resurfacing rotors

Cons of resurfacing rotors

  • Generally less expensive in the short-term
  • Can last several thousand miles if done properly
  • Not as safe as starting with new rotors
  • Will need to be replaced sooner due to faster warping from more heat transfer
  • Damage to brake pads from warped rotors may not be covered under warranty
  • May be more costly in the long run, since you will likely need to replace both pads and rotors sooner

Resurfacing as opposed to replacing old brake rotors can cause both the pads and rotors to wear out more quickly. This is due to the friction-based heat traveling through the now thinner rotor, which can cause the rotor to warp and the brake pads to thin out unevenly as they hit against the warped surface. As a result, you’ll be back at the shop much faster than if you had simply replaced everything all at once. 

When you replace damaged rotors, you’ll probably also need new brake pads to avoid extra uneven wear and decreased stopping power as your marked up pads hit against the new rotor.  Even if you are under warranty on your brake pads when you go in for new rotors, the repairs may not be covered, since the damage was caused by another part of the brake system (i.e., the wearing down of the brake rotor). Therefore, the initial savings you get from resurfacing rotors may be a wash, since you will likely need to replace them again at some point over the lifespan of your vehicle. 

Fortunately, new types of rotors are relatively affordable, especially when you factor in the cost of machining your old rotors only to replace them again at some point down the road. This may explain why more and more repair shops are recommending replacing rotors over resurfacing them. 

Skip the Repair Shop and Let NuBrakes Come to You

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Recent Jobs Completed by NuBrakes Mobile Brake Repair

Vehicle

2016 Nissan Altima

Ford F-150

Work Completed

Front brake pad replacement

Front and rear brake pad and rotor replacement (all four wheels)

Total Cost

$133.34

$716.68

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