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brake replacement from dealer

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Old 03-10-12, 01:10 PM   #1
ejg528
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Unhappy brake replacement from dealer

Hi. My wife owns a 2008 Lexus RX-350 and we just got all 4 brakes - pads and rotors - replaced by the dealer, on their recommendation. This is all after the fact, but I'd really value others' opinion on this story.

She took her Lexus in for the 25,000 mile service. Everything else regarding that service seemed fairly reasonable, especially considering we're working with the dealer here. But they said that all 4 brake pads and rotors needed replacement.

Again, the car has only 25,000 miles on it, so that seems like (to me) pretty low mileage to need new brakes. I drive her car most of the time, with a fair mix of city and highway driving. I'm not a very aggressive driver/braker; I also drive a Saturn and that went about 57,000 miles before needing new brakes. So I wouldn't blame the driving conditions or the driver here!

Now here's the kicker. The dealership charged her over $1,400 for this! The labor was split into 2 jobs - one for front and one for rear - charging $298 for each labor job (so $596 in labor). The parts were $419.74 for the front disc brake pads & rotors, and $426.46 for the rears. So that's $846.20 in parts plus $596.00 in labor for a grand total of $1,442.20 (not including sales tax on the parts, as well as some other "miscellaneous charge" of $37.64 plus sales tax on that which I cannot find itemized on the bill).

They said that the front pads were down to 1mm and the rear pads were down to 2mm - so even if that is true I'm wondering why bother replacing the rears?

Anyway, I think she/we got seriously hosed. What do you think? What can we do in the future? I've heard people going to Toyota dealerships as they use the same parts but with much cheaper labor. Is that a better option for her? I take my Saturn to an honest, qualified mechanic but cannot convince my wife to take her Lexus there (even after all of this!).

Please help if you can; I'm really dreading having her go back to the Lexus dealer for future maintenance and/or repairs.

Last edited by ejg528; 03-10-12 at 01:12 PM. Reason: typo (misspelling) in Title
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Old 03-10-12, 01:39 PM   #2
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Welcome to Club Lexus. New brakes and rotors on your Lexus at 25k, just does not sound right. In my opinion the dealership took advantage of your wife to do unnecessary repairs. My 2007 RX has 53k and I still have 4mm on the front pads. I also do not have the Lexus dealership do any work on my Lexus except recalls and warranty work. They charge more for everything. Instead, I have all routine maintenance done at my local Toyota dealership and save about 50 percent.
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Old 03-10-12, 01:51 PM   #3
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Thanks very much, Rainbird. At least I am not the only one who thinks something doesn't sound right here! I really appreciate that confirmation, as well as the idea of trying the Toyota dealership. There's a Toyota dealer very close to the Lexus dealer - might even be the same owner - but it sure sounds like that would be worth a try for her next maintenance/repair.
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Old 03-10-12, 02:23 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ejg528 View Post
I've heard people going to Toyota dealerships as they use the same parts but with much cheaper labor. Is that a better option for her? I take my Saturn to an honest, qualified mechanic but cannot convince my wife to take her Lexus there (even after all of this!).

Please help if you can; I'm really dreading having her go back to the Lexus dealer for future maintenance and/or repairs.
The Lexus RX350 uses the same engine as the Toyota Highlander and shares many other parts as well. I have heard of a few Toyota dealerships that will not work on Lexus, but it is usually because they own both dealerships. Many other members here utilize independent shops, especially for work like brakes, tires or exhaust systems.
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Old 03-10-12, 02:59 PM   #5
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Welcome to Club Lexus.

If the front pads were truly down to 1mm you would have heard the wear indicators squealing every time you touched the brakes. Was this the case? Once pads are down to 2-3mm they should be replaced. When they get down to 1mm you run the risk of damaging the rotors.

Is it unheard of that you needed brakes pads at 25K miles? No. However, you more than likely did not need new rotors. If there was no pulsing in the brake pedal they were more than likely fine and if anything would have needed only a minor turning of the rotor. You can turn these rotors at least once and still be within spec. If they were indeed warped, at that point they may have needed to be replaced. But only then -- perhaps.

On my 2004 RX330 I got 45K miles on the front brakes and 75K on the rear brakes before they needed to be replaced. I had the front rotors turned at that time and still had plenty of useable life left in them. Replaced the rear pads myself. Did not need to touch the rotors. Now, I am nearing 90K and will be looking to put new pads on the front but will still not need new rotors nor will I need to have the rotors turned.

Find a reliable Toyota or independent shop for your service needs. You can go to yelp.com and search for auto repair shops and look for ratings for those in your area. Even Sears would have been a better place to go for this work for what they took you for.

BTW, what Lexus shop did this to you? Would be nice to know as fair warning to others.
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Old 03-10-12, 03:29 PM   #6
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Thanks very much, RX330inFL.

I did not hear the wear indicators squealing when I touched the brakes, nor was there any pulsing in the brake pedal. I haven't driven the car yet since the brake replacement but my wife has and she did say that the brakes do "feel better." But I tend to agree with you that, at a minimum, the rotors did not need to be replaced (and they had never been turned).

Thanks for all of that info - you helped confirm my suspicions. At 25K, were those pads down to 1-2mm? I'll never know for sure.

Anyway, I live in Boston and used Lexus of Watertown, which is the closest Lexus dealership to Boston. There is a Toyota dealership just a few doors down from Lexus but they might have the same owner as Lexus and if so, probably wouldn't work on Lexus. But I'm sure, as you mention, I could find another Toyota dealership or independent shop (like my mechanic for my car) to try next time. The harder part could be convincing my wife (if $1,400 for new brakes after 25K doesn't convince her, I don't know what will!).

Thanks again for all of this very valuable information.
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Old 03-10-12, 03:47 PM   #7
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If you truly believe that you were hosed by the dealer, which it does sound like, a letter or phone call to Lexus head office to complain is also an option.
I'd agree with others, get your service done at a Toyota dealer
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Old 03-10-12, 03:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ejg528 View Post
Thanks again for all of this very valuable information.
There are definitely upsides to using the Lexus dealership. Free loaner vehicle. Free car wash. However, if you look at what you might save you can work with your new shop about getting a rental vehicle, many have rental capabilities right there, and you can always take the car to the car wash yourself. Many of the Toyota shops also offer a Quick Lube service where you are in and out in under 30 minutes.

For $1400 you could have flown me up from FL, put me up in a hotel for the day, paid for parts which would be under $100 to include all the rags and shim grease, and had money left over to take me out to dinner. Not that I offer such services -- just an example. Took me all of 45 minutes to replace the rear pads from the time I rolled out the floor jack until I was inside washing my hands. The dealer could easily shave another 15 minutes off that, though they are charging by the book and at rates $100-$150 per hour which is understandable.

In short, does not hurt to always get a second opinion if you can on any service work or at least visit with us here at Club Lexus and discuss in advance.

The brakes will "feel" better as there is now more pad in place, displacing more of the brake fluid and causing the pedal to engage higher up. Not all that travel in the brake pedal.

BTW, you will find many of the questions you might have about your RX have already been asked here. Get used to using the search functions to look around and come back often.
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Old 03-10-12, 04:22 PM   #9
ejg528
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Good point, diverchris - I'll consider contacting the dealership - we'll see.

RX330inFL - I think it's those "upsides" that keeps my wife coming back. This particular dealership also serves coffee, bagels for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch (if you can get them before they run out), internet access, etc. I guess for $1,400 brake replacements at 25,000 miles, they have more than enough money to offer such services.

When I had a new car, it was tough for me to use anyone but the dealer - even well after my warranty expired. I think it's really a matter of getting yourself "unmarried" to the idea of always having to use the dealer for your new car (and yes, even if the car is 4, 5, or more years old, it's still your "new baby" so-to-speak). I sure hope this experience does it for my wife (it sure does for me).

In any case, thanks again everyone for the help. This was a very expensive lesson learned the hard way, and now I've got the confirmation that my suspicions were correct.
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Old 03-10-12, 07:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by RX330inFL View Post

For $1400 you could have flown me up from FL, put me up in a hotel for the day, paid for parts which would be under $100 to include all the rags and shim grease, and had money left over to take me out to dinner. Not that I offer such services -- just an example.
Lol....dinner too??

Anyway, yes - that price is outrageous, and definitely not worth the free loaner / car wash. I always decline the car wash anyway, as I'm quite picky about swirl marks in my paint, and they just don't see to be as careful as I am when washing.

As someone suggested, you should contact Lexus corporate and ask for some clarification etc. Let them know you're not happy..maybe they'll split the cost with you.

If you're even a bit comfortable mechanically, brakes are fairly straightforward to do yourself.
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Old 03-10-12, 07:32 PM   #11
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I'd have asked for the removed parts. At least you would have been able to challenge them if they were scamming you. Pads shouldn't be worn at 25k unless you are driving in a place like San Francisco. Rotors should not be worn at 25k. If they were warped and needed replacement they should have been covered under warranty, IMO.

I think I'd have a chat with the service manager or the owner. I'd likely be looking for another dealer.
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Old 03-10-12, 08:07 PM   #12
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Lol....dinner too??
At those prices there would be plenty enough for Legal Seafood and then some.
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Old 03-11-12, 12:29 PM   #13
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I just purchased a 2009 RX 350 from NY with around 20,000 - 21,000 miles on it. I haven't gotten the vehicle (they're waiting for the check to be cleared), but according to the service history prior to the sale, the rear brake pads were replaced and rotors were resurfaced by the dealership. I verified the service was indeed done on Lexus' online record as well.

According to the dealership's (Lexus) receipt, the cost for such service is $50 parts plus $160 labor. The dealership told me that they do maintenance/repair services on all newer used Lexus vehicles that they get from auction/trade-in.

Last edited by gt1209; 03-11-12 at 12:38 PM. Reason: Fixed typo and added more info
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Old 03-11-12, 08:27 PM   #14
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Just had the front brakes on my wife's 08 RX350 done at an indy shop $211.70 for resurface rotors new pads and brake fluid. This is of course with the $25 coupon from the paper. I have ours serviced every 5k miles at the Toyota dealer and the front brakes were measured every time so I have a list from 10k miles to present. At 20k miles the fronts were at 10 mm and the rears at 12 mm both sides. At 60k the fronts were at 2mm and the rears at 6mm. Toyota wanted $400+ to do the fronts. I went to a shop I have been using for brakes and tires for years. I have even used them for timing belts on hondas that I have owned and always had great prices and work done. The Toyota dealer charges between $50-60 for the oil service and tire rotation brake check and checking a bunch of other stuff also top off all fluids.
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Old 03-11-12, 08:33 PM   #15
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The Toyota dealer charges between $50-60 for the oil service and tire rotation brake check and checking a bunch of other stuff also top off all fluids.
That is fair and I might assume many times you are out in under 45 minutes. I have a habit of stopping for some takeout food and eat outside or in the break area while work is being done on my RX at the shop. If they have WiFi, I try to grab some computer time as well. Time goes quickly.
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