There’s no such as a free lunch, even when the government is providing the lunch! Who knew? A lot of things the government wants you to will supposedly save you money, except when you look at the overall picture, they don’t. This is especially true in the automotive area. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:
Brakes jobs tend to cost more nowadays because certain critical brake parts – the rotors – are becoming throwaway parts. The why is interesting.
Car companies are forced by the government to “save” you money – as the government styles it – by issuing regulatory fatwas requiring that all new cars achieve ever-higher fuel economy numbers. But there is a hidden cost to this – and guess who pays for that?
It isn’t the government.
You – the owner of the government-mandated “fuel efficient” car – get to pay for things like light-weight but disposable brake rotors that are too thin to be turned, or machined to true – necessary for proper operation of the brakes.
Turning entails the use of a special lathe to shave off a little of the metal surface of the rotor to bring it back to flat and good as new. This was common practice before the government got into the business of “saving” car buyers money by ordering new cars to be made ever-more-efficient. Which prompted the car companies to shave weight off the car by using thinner/lighter rotors.
The old steel rotors were heavier – because they were thicker and thus, sturdier. For this reason, they could often be turned several times, thus increasing their useful service life and costing you less each time your car needed brake work.
Machining being generally less expensive than the $60-plus it costs for each of the four new replacement rotors your car may need the next time it needs brake work.
Thicker rotors were also less vulnerable to warping, either from heat or from over-tightening – as via an air gun during a government-mandated “safety” inspection. Most shops are in a hurry and don’t take the time to remove or install lug nuts – which hold the wheel to the hub via studs that are pressed into the rotors – by hand, using a torque wrench to reinstall them without risking over-tightening them. This often results in too much clamping force applied to the rotors, which become out-of-round as a result and have to be turned to get them back to true – if you don’t like the feeling of your brake pedal pulsating under your foot or the car pulling left or right when you apply the brakes.
But if the damaged rotor(s) can’t be turned, they have to be tossed. Guess whop gets to pay for that?
If it were only throwaway rotors, it might not be so bad – or rather, so expensive – to “save” on gas.