Cars are great, but when they break down, the repair bills can often be quite the shocker. No one likes to deal with any type of unexpected expenses, like having to obtain some new BMW struts for example, but car repairs are a larger problem. Not only do you have to deal with the cost, but you have to be able to put aside serious downtime as well. This is when people realize just how important their vehicles are in their everyday lives. Not every repair has to be made by your local mechanic. There are several very different repairs that can be made right at home without the need for any special tools. One of these repairs just so happens to be your brakes: should you replace your brakes yourself? Let’s take a close look at the pros and cons of replacing the brakes on your vehicle all by yourself, without any professional help.
Are You Up For It?
The first thing that needs to be considered is whether or not you are up to the challenge. While it may not take any specialized tools to successfully replace your brakes, it still takes a bit of car knowhow. It is true that many people have replaced their brakes themselves without any prior mechanical knowledge, but remember: your brakes are the only things that will stop your vehicle. A mistake in this department could be bad and even deadly.
At the minimum, you are going to need the following items in order to change your brakes:
- A vehicle jack
- A lug wrench
- Some Jack Stands
- Wrench (or socket wrench) to remove the caliper. This really depends on the vehicle, though. Some vehicles may require a special tool to remove them.
- A screwdriver (may or may not be necessary)
- A hammer (may or may not be necessary)
- A pair of pliers (may or may not be necessary)
You may also need some specialty tools to help make the job easier.
- Pad spreader, which is also known as a C-Clamp
- And possibly bag ties.
The Cost Involved
The main reason that most people choose to replace the brakes on their own vehicles is to save money. Vehicle repairs are expensive: not only are you paying for the mechanic’s time, but you are also paying for their knowledge, expertise, tools, employees, service area and insurance. All of these things can add up and directly inflate the cost of auto repairs, including those brake repairs.
Replacing the brakes yourself will save a significant amount of money. In some cases, the savings could be as much as 75 percent. Here is an example to put these savings into perspective: Rob needs his brakes replaced. His local mechanic has quoted him a cost of $365 to get the job done. If Rob chooses to replace the brakes himself, he could be possibly saving as much as $273.75.
Safety Comes First
There are some other very specific things that need to be addressed before you decide that you can tackle the job and that is the all-important safety factor. Replacing the brakes on any vehicle is a relatively safe job, but that does not mean that accidents can’t happen. There are brakes on each tire of your vehicle. In order to get to the brakes, you will have to remove the tire. That can only mean one thing: your vehicle will need to be lifted off the ground and at one point during the replacement process, your body will need to be under your vehicle. For many people this is a deal breaker and it makes perfect sense, because there is no amount of savings is worth dying for.
I Can’t Get No…Wait
Handling any type of repair can give a person a sense of satisfaction, in the end. The same goes for repairing the brakes on your own vehicle. It is a feeling of confidence that can really lift a person’s spirits. Knowing that a large chunk of money was saved is not a bad feeling, either.
About the Author: Robert Smith is a contributing author who works for an auto parts supply company, which specializes in BMW front struts among other luxury car-related items.