Ever since Volkswagen first introduced the Beetle in 1931, it’s been a mainstay in the automotive industry. In fact, Volkswagen was the biggest automaker in the world in 2016 and followed it up with record sales in 2017.
Yet, there’s been a longstanding debate that VWs are expensive and difficult to maintain. Independent studies show when it compares to other imports, Volkswagen isn’t in the top five. Of course, some Volkswagens are easier and cheaper to maintain than others.
Because the cost of imported parts is higher, that price trickles down to owners when it’s time to repair or replace them. Many owners in the U.S. turn to DIY repair for their Jettas, Passats, and Beetles.
In order to compare what’s cheaper — DIY vs. repair shop — we take a look at the cost of replacing one of the highest wear and tear parts: Volkswagen brake pads.
When You Know it’s Time to Replace Your Volkswagen Brake Pads
The average lifespan of VW brake pads are around 50,000 but there are some factors that can reduce that number.
For instance, if you ride your brakes, slam your brakes to a stop, or do more city driving than highway, your brake pads may only last 25,000 miles. It also depends on the quality of the brake pads you have installed.
There are three main indicators that your brakes need to get looked at. If you experience a high-pitched screech/squeal, grinding or clunking, or a hissing sound, you’ll want to take your car to the shop.
The high-pitched screech or squeal is a safety warning that the brake pad is getting worn. It’s the sound of a metal indicator tip coming into contact with the rotor because the pad reached a point that it’s getting too thin. The sound can go away if the tip wears down too, which means you have possible rotor and caliper damage.
Grinding or clunking means the pads are completely worn down. The caliper is now pushing onto the rotor, causing the grinding sound. Some people say they can “feel” the grinding when they apply the brakes.
If you have an issue with your brake booster, you may hear a hissing sound. This also happens if there’s a vacuum leak.
Replacing Brakes on Foreign Cars
Like everything else, the cost of replacing the brake pads on foreign cars may vary depending on your service options. In other words, if you can only use a mechanic specialized in foreign cars or a dealership, you’ll pay more than if it’s a domestic car.
There are a few reasons for this. The first is that dealerships have higher overheads than an independent shop. In most cases, you won’t speak to the technician working on your vehicle, you talk to a service advisor. In smaller shops, you’ll talk to the person working on your car, not one or two other people who act as a middleman.
You’re also paying more for an authority on your make or model. Dealer service techs get trained to work on a specific manufacturer, as opposed to an independent mechanic who’s trained on several different makers.
Another reason that getting work done on a foreign vehicle is more expensive is, like the car itself, the parts get imported from overseas. This drives the cost up to cover shipping, markup, etc.
Some repairs or parts are easy to replace yourself, like doing your own oil changes or replacing your own brake pads. You’ll save a ton on labor and if you know what you’re doing or have faith in your workmanship, you’ll have the same outcome.
Here’s an estimated look at how much replacing Volkswagen brake pads will run you, broken down by the five popular models:
Let’s start with a tried and true favorite, the Jetta. VW has redesigned the Jetta with a lower price for 2019, which will make it even more popular in the U.S. You won’t need to replace the brake VW Jetta brake pads and rotors for the 2019 version, but if you have on older model, you’ll need to think about replacing your VW Jetta brake pads soon.
On average, the cost of Jetta brake pads is $45-150. The quality of the brake pads and where you’re buying them from affects the price.
Labor is a little trickier to pinpoint. You could pay anywhere from $75-160 for labor for VW Jetta brake pad replacement.
The Passat is similar to the Jetta, with the biggest difference being space. The Jetta is a compact sedan while the Passat falls into the midsize category. Although it can be an expensive car to maintain, the cost of a Passat brake pad replacement is close to the Jetta.
The average cost of Passat brake pads is $70-175.
Labor costs vary from $80-160 for the Passat.
Volkswagen discontinued the Touareg in the U.S., but the Tiguan and Atlas are still going strong. With the Atlas joining the lineup in 2017, we’re looking at the Tiguan, which VW introduced in 2007.
The average cost of Tiguan brake pads is $80-175.
Labor costs vary from $105-160 for the Tiguan.
The Golf has been a dependable and affordable compact car since it was first introduced in 1974. VW offers six different Golf models, from the classic hatchback to two different AWD wagons.
The average cost of Golf brake pads is $35-165.
Labor costs vary from $80-150 for the Golf.
Whether it’s Herbie: The Love Bug or Barbie’s pink convertible, the Beetle is a VW classic that’s loved by millions around the world. In fact, it’s the fourth best-selling car of all time. While there’s been some buzz about VW discontinuing its iconic car (again), for now, it looks like it’s going to be in the U.S. for a while.
The average cost of Beetle brake pads is $45-155.
Labor costs vary from $80-115 for the Beetle.
In all cases, the cost of the brake pads depends on the quality of the product. None of these figures include tax or disposal fees. Brake pads get replaced as a pair, which means these estimated costs are for a set.
Get the Online Auto Repair Help You Need
Replacing Volkswagen brake pads on your own is affordable and not as difficult as you may think. It’s even easier when you have a reliable source for troubleshooting any issues. We are that source.
We have thousands (yes, thousands!) of Volkswagen manuals to troubleshoot and assist you in your repair. We have current models like the Jetta and Passat and discontinued models like the Touareg.