Brake Check – Awkward Responses

09 Aug 2011
Author: Joel The Great  |  Category: Rants  |  Comment (1)  |  Add Comment

The other day I posted this story about Brake Check and how I thought they were giving me the shaft on a simple brake job. Well, when I shared the article on Twitter I made sure to include them to let them know of how I felt.  They replied.

Here is the Twitter conversation:

Image thanks to

You’ll notice the first response is a Public Relations type response. It’s a damage control measure to try to convey sympathy and brush off the issue.  I bet they were hoping it would end at that.  But you all know me better than that don’t ya?

I responded with some simple questions that were on my mind regarding my issue. Mainly the cost of the parts, and why such a huge mark up. Or the lack of a core refund.

Their response raised more questions that it answered. Firstly, they mention that the price of a caliper did not include a core charge.  A core charge is an extra amount you pay when you buy a part such as a caliper, you get some of that money back by bringing your old caliper in so they can send it off to be rebuilt as it’s cheaper than making a new one.

The part I was able to get was $165 with about $80 of ‘core value’ included.  So when I took my old caliper back it means it only cost me about $80-90 total for the part.  Brake check told me the caliper would cost me about $200.  And they said via twitter they don’t have a core charge or refund for that part.  Why not?  Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to get a refund, maybe pass the savings on to the customer? Also that means if they are not returning the old caliper for a core refund, what are they doing with it? Throwing it away?  That means it’s ending up in some landfill instead of being of used?

Oh, but the markup is including labor! Oh…that makes so much more…nonsense. Lets look at my rotor.  If I remember correctly I was told either $80, or $88 for ONE new rotor. A new one cost me less than $30 with tax (This is not taking into account that Brake Check probably gets a bulk type of deal with a distributor and probably can get rotors cheaper than I can from local parts stores).  So that means about $50-60 for labor to change it out?  It must be kind of difficult.

Steps to replace ONE rotor on my car:

  1. Remove tire – 5 nuts (under 2 minutes since they have power tools)
  2. Disconnect E-Brake cable (under 5 minutes with proper tools)
  3. Unbolt caliper – 2 bolts (under 2 minutes with hand tools)
  4. Slide old rotor off tire/axle (less than 1 minute, the rotor is held in place by the wheel and caliper, slides off easier than the tire)
  5. Slide new rotor on tire/axle (less than 1 minute, see above)
  6. Bolt on Caliper – 2 bolts (under 2 minutes with hand tools)
  7. Reconnect E-Brake cable (under 5 minutes with proper tools)
  8. Replace tire – 5 nuts (under 2 minutes since they have power tools).

Total amount of time: Under 20 minutes (I’m betting an experienced mechanic could do it in 10-15 minutes).  At $50-$60 extra for that part, for 20 minutes of work, that would be about $150-180/hour for a very simple fix.  According to various search results, the average mechanic will charge anywhere from $70-100 an hour to fix your car.  That’s for more complex things than changing a rotor.

Now in their 2nd to last tweet they stated that the prices I was quoted included labor.  Unfortunately I was flat out REFUSED (which may not be legal according to someone?) a print out of the estimate, so I don’t really have the ability to quote what cost how much, how much was tax, etc.  I was told to replace the caliper and pads only, with a brake fluid bleeding would cost me $370. I was also told it would be about $80 for the new rotor.  So I’m going to assume $370 + $80 = $450.

My parts cost about $250 with the core value included. $163 after I turned in my old caliper, that’s with tax. That means if Brake Check got the parts for the same price I could, they wanted to charge me anywhere from $200-$287 for a job that should take them no more than an hour as it was only ONE wheel, ONE brake that was being fixed (My math in my reply was a bit off and inflated, but I was trying to make a point in under 140 characters).

Then Brake Check ended the conversation with a simple sorry and a change of subject to my father in law. It was more awkward than the first time you get a hooker (Do you pay her first? Can you look her in the eyes? Is the place you hid the body sufficient enough?).  The whole thing is just odd.

I don’t really know what the costs of labor or parts that were involved, I don’t know what their overhead is like.  All I know is it seemed a bit high to fix one issue. And if something seems wrong, walk away.  Which is what I did.  I feel a little bad for whoever mans Brake Check’s Twitter account, I don’t make things easy for people.  But that’s what I do.

In case you are reading this Brake Check:  You do not need to reply via some twitter public relation account. Unless you like putting your foot in your mouth

One Response to “Brake Check – Awkward Responses”

  1. Wheelchair Ninja Says:

    Not justifying their attitudes or business practices (and I’ve known people who manage for them, so I know how they ‘encourage’ their staff…) — but they by all technical means are correct that there’s not a ‘core refund’… The core refund is essentially, the reusable core components of a unit being returned to a refurbishing facility, and reworked for reuse. They don’t have a refund for that, because they are a big enough chain that they manage the refurbishing themselves via an external source. They create the supply AND the demand chain… and typically overinflate their estimates massively anyway. I also wouldn’t be surprised if instead of including the discount inherent from the core components, they in fact CHARGED you on the final bill of labor for ‘waste disposal fees’ — essentially making you pay extra to give them the right to refurb and resell your parts later…. On a brake job, there should be less than $5 in wastes that might need disposing, and thats with a complete fluid swap. The rest would be valid for core exchange.