Q – While my car was in for service, the advisor told me that the left front wheel did not turn freely and that the warning light is on. They also mentioned that my brake pedal was low and that I needed brake pads (at least). Since I didn’t take the car in for anything related to the brakes, I am a little suspicious. Now that told me what they charge to do brakes on my car, I am even more convinced that they want to sell me things I don’t need. It’s me, George again.

A – Brake quality standards vary widely and so do prices.   On your particular car however, I would call them stratospherically staggering. I know how complex a task it is to service 90’s era Porsche brakes thoroughly and it is painful. Now of course there is an abundance of shops that will do less for less so it is very easy to think that “Back Alley Auto” will do the same job for $300.00 cheaper. Some people think there are only four bleeder valves on the car. Others have told me that when the pads would not fit, they just took them over to the belt sander to make them narrower. There is no limit to the degree of degradation that can be foisted on an unsuspecting price shopper in the interest of netting another “pad slap”.

Does that mean you always need to spend a bundle to get your brakes repaired? Not at all, you should simply have it spelled out with both parts and labor listed to indicate what you are paying for. Call me suspicious but I would avoid any shop that cannot give me a detailed estimate, on paper. As far as your suspicion goes, since you like to work on the car yourself, see if they will work with you to do the aspects of the job that might be outside of your repertoire. Things that come to mind include removing the 16 dinky little button head Allen screws that retain the pad carrier plates, or media blasting the corrosion off the calipers, etc. – MC