If your brake booster is going out, it’s crucial that you replace it as quickly as possible. Not doing so can result in complete brake failure.
In addition, the worse your brake booster is, the harder you have to press the pedals to even slow down, which means you could lose control of your vehicle.
The average cost of replacing a brake booster is $350-$1,500. On average, you can expect to pay around $500. This includes $100-$300 in parts, 2-4 hours of labor ($300-$500), and new brake fluid. You’ll also have to pay for a brake bleed to get your brakes functioning again.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of brake booster replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
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Brake Booster Replacement Costs*
Your brake booster replacement will cost a different rate depending on your vehicle, the type of brake booster you use, and the cost of labor.
Here, the largest influencing factor is usually labor, which can be considerable depending on how long it takes to remove and replace the booster in your vehicle.
The following price estimates cover cost expectations for 10 popular vehicles.
|Vehicle||Brake Booster Cost||Labor Cost|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (April 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Brake Booster Replacement Price Factors
Replacing a brake booster is a relatively complex job and it can take some time. In addition, the cost of the parts, the cost of replacement, etc., will depend on the make and model of your vehicle.
However, you’ll likely see the following issues factor into the total cost of your booster replacement.
Type of Brake Booster
Brake boosters multiply the pressure from your brake pedal, allowing you to put significant force on a brake bar with nothing more than a light tap.
However, they do so in several different ways:
- Vacuum Booster – These use vacuum from the engine manifold or vacuum pump to increase the pressure of the pedal when you brake.
- Hydraulic Booster – These use a hydraulic system from the power steering pump to increase pressure. If your hydraulic booster has an issue, you’ll have to bleed and re-fill the power steering fluid as well.
- Electro-hydraulic Booster – These use a hydraulic pump and an accumulator. They’re also the most expensive, but the most efficient. And, you’re only likely to find them on hybrid or electric cars.
Most modern vehicles have vacuum booster brakes. These are the cheapest and almost universal in passenger cars and pickup trucks.
However, you’ll still want to double-check what your vehicle uses before buying new ones.
Brake Booster Brand
If you buy OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts, you can always expect to pay the maximum rate for those parts. If you look at the chart above, the highest number in price estimates is from the dealer for a brand new, OEM part.
On the other hand, you could source the same part secondhand for about ½ or less of the cost. You could also choose a remanufactured part to reduce the cost even further.
Alternatively, you can almost always look for universal or made-to-fit parts. These aftermarket parts are not made by the original manufacturer and may not even be made to the exact specifications of your engine.
However, they are made to fit the standards set by your engine, while fitting into the largest number of vehicles possible.
Here, you have to make sure that the vacuum booster you choose actually fits your vehicle. Not all mechanics will install non-OEM or non-new parts.
Brake Fluid Cost
If you’re removing your brake booster, you’ll have to empty the brake fluid and replace it. You’ll also have to bleed the lines to get everything working properly after replacing the booster.
If you have a hydraulic system, you’ll also have to change the power steering fluid.
These costs can add anywhere from $20 to $80+ to the cost of your repair, depending on the brake fluid you choose.
Cost of Labor
The cost of labor is also an important part of the total cost of your replacement.
Here, you can expect a brake booster replacement to take 1-3 hours. On average, you’ll pay $60 per hour plus a shop fee of 5-20%.
However, you can pay as much as $205 per hour or as little as $15 depending on where you’re at. So, labor can account for $150-$400+ of total costs.
6 Signs of a Bad Brake Booster
If your brake booster is going out, you’ll probably notice you’re having issues with the brakes. Most people notice the brakes get “stiff” or heavy and you might have a harder time depressing the pedals than usual.
However, the following 6 signs could all indicate that your brake booster is going out.
1. Stiff Brake Pedal
If you’re using more effort to push the brake pedals, it usually means it’s time to get the brakes checked. It could mean that the fluid is low. Brakes are hydraulically assisted.
However, if your brake booster is going out, you’ll have the same symptoms. Here, you’ll notice you need more force to press the pedal, to the point where it might feel extremely difficult to actually brake.
2. Reduced Braking Efficiency
The same issue that causes the brake pedal to be harder to press can reduce the effect of pushing the brake pedal. So, you might have to push the brake pedal quite far down to get even slight braking.
If the booster fails completely, you might have the pedal on the floor without being able to stop. This kind of brake failure means the booster is out, you’re out of brake fluid, or the brakes themselves aren’t working.
In either case, if you notice your brakes aren’t working as well as they used to, it’s always a good idea to get a diagnostic before the issue gets worse.
3. Brade Rides High
If the brake pedal rides high, if it returns to its position more slowly than previously when you let it go, or if it moves less between pressing and depressing, you might have a vacuum pressure issue.
This symptom only appears if you have a vacuum brake booster. However, as most passenger vehicles use vacuum boosters, it’s very likely you do, and this is a good symptom to watch for.
4. Brakes Hiss
If your brakes are hissing when you press them, it usually means you have a vacuum leak. If you’re using a vacuum booster, the leak is most likely in the booster.
Here, the housing diaphragm is most likely the culprit. Unfortunately, if this occurs, you’ll have to replace the full booster as there’s no way to fix the leak.
5. Vacuum Leaks
If you’re seeing engine performance leaks because of a vacuum leak, it could be the brake booster. While a vacuum leak isn’t a reason to suspect the brake booster, you will likely notice issues with the brakes if you have a vacuum leak.
Here, everything in the vacuum system uses the vacuum pressure from the intake manifold. When there’s a leak, the air pressure in the intake manifold is impacted, causing a reduction in engine performance. You’ll also see reduced performance from your brakes.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to check the full system with a smoke machine or other system to see where the leak actually is. However, it could be the brake booster.
6. Power Steering Issues
If you have a hydraulic brake booster, it runs using the power steering fluid. You might notice the steering wheel gets stiff or unresponsive before you notice issues with the brakes.
This also applies if you have electro-hydraulic brake boosters, like in a Toyota Prius. If you have steering issues and your power steering fluid is topped up, it might be the brake booster.
How To Change a Brake Booster: 20 Steps
If you want to replace your brake booster, you can often do so yourself. However, you will have to drain the brake fluid.
Additionally, you should always double-check that you have the right parts for your year, make, and model of vehicle before starting the work.
Things You’ll Need:
- Drain pan
- Wheel chocks
- Brake line wrenches (Flare wrenches)
- Disposable gloves
- Brake booster
- Brake fluid
- Brake cleaner
- Paper towels
Replace Your Power Brake Booster
Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure that you follow basic safety procedures.
Park your car on a flat and level space. You’ll want to chock the back wheels, take the key out of the ignition, and disconnect the battery from the negative terminal.
- Relieve the vacuum pressure in your vehicle. To do so, pump the brake pedal a few times with the engine off. When the pedal goes firm, the vacuum pressure is off.
- Find the power brake booster. Normally, it’s on the driver’s side, against the engine wall at the very back.
- Remove the mastery cylinder or move it to the side. This depends on which vehicle you have. However, if you can simply move it to the side, you won’t have to undo the brake hydraulics or bleed the system. This will save you a significant amount of time. Therefore, you should always see if you can before proceeding further. If you can’t simply move the master cylinder to one side, take your drain pan and put it under the master cylinder.
- Remove the electrical connector by pressing the pin.
- Take the clip off the connector, you can do this by hand, and set the clip aside.
- Remove the mounting nuts with a wrench or a ratchet and socket.
- Place paper towels or shop towels around the brake lines. Then, take your brake line flare wrench and disconnect the brake fluid lines. Hold your fingers over the lines as you remove them to prevent leakage.
- Place the master cylinder into the drain pan. Do not let brake fluid get onto your paint or your skin.
- Check to make sure there’s no fluid on the seal that could indicate a leak. This is important because master cylinder leaks are one of the main causes of vacuum brake booster failure. If brake fluid leaks inside the vacuum, it could cause the diaphragm to fail.
- If your vehicle has a hydraulic control unit (HCU), also known as anti-lock bolts, you’ll have to disconnect that as well. This should simply bolt off and you can set it aside in the drain pan, with the master cylinder.
- From the cab, open the compartment directly under the steering wheel. Normally, there’s an access panel at about knee height. Look for the brake pedal attaching to a push rod, which leads directly to the booster.
- Find the retaining clip connecting the rod to the booster and depress it to remove it.
- Loosen the four nuts holding the booster to the engine compartment. You might need an extension for this as it can be further in than you can easily reach with a normal ratchet.
- From the engine compartment, disconnect the vacuum hose from the booster. Normally this requires depressing a connector clip or unscrewing a clamp.
- Slide the booster out and remove it.
- Put the new brake booster in place.
- Then, reconnect everything in the opposite order.
- Once you have the booster back in place, you can put the HCU and the master cylinder back. Make sure you clean the new brake booster with brake cleaner before re-mounting the master cylinder.
- Reinstall all hoses, wires, etc. Then, reconnect your negative battery terminal.
- If you disconnected the master cylinder, don’t forget to bleed the brakes. Some vehicles require a scan in order to bleed the brakes. In this case, you’ll likely want to have the work done by a mechanic.
Readers Also Ask
Replacing a brake booster is a relatively simple job, despite the part being expensive.
However, you might still have questions.
Can I drive with a bad brake booster?
It’s usually unsafe to drive with a bad brake booster because your brakes will be unreliable and could fail completely.
It’s theoretically possible to drive, but it is dangerous.
How long does a brake booster take to replace?
Normally you can replace a brake booster in 1-3 hours depending on what you have to take out.
In addition, if you have to bleed the brakes, the entire process will take longer.
How do I know if my brake booster has a vacuum leak?
Your brake pedals will normally be very stiff if you have a vacuum leak.
In addition, you might hear hissing noises when you press the pedals.
How long do brake boosters last?
Brake boosters last anywhere from 150,000 miles to the lifetime of the car. Normally, if something goes wrong, it’s unusual.
You’ll want to check the vacuum lines, the master cylinder, and the vacuum pressure in the vehicle to see where the issue comes from.
Can a bad brake booster affect engine performance?
Yes. If your vacuum booster is leaking, it’s bleeding pressure from the intake manifold.
This can cause a decrease in fuel efficiency and performance.
If your brake booster goes out, you’re looking at an average of $500 in costs to get a new one. Replacing a brake booster is not cheap.
However, you can save money by doing the work yourself, choosing aftermarket parts, or choosing a remanufactured booster.
Eventually, total costs will heavily depend on the type of brake booster you’re using and the make and model of your vehicle.
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