Recently, I was sent a link to a TV commercial on YouTube for a mobile brake business. I will post the link on BrakeandFrontEnd.com. The commercial featured a puppet claiming that the business could save a driver $500 on brakes because shops mark up brake parts by 300 percent. Not that I don’t trust puppets in commercials, but this was a little bit of an exaggeration and overly dramatic.
I went to the company’s website, and it has an interesting business model to say the least. This mobile repair service offers a Bring Your Own Brake Pad (BYOBP) brake job. In a nutshell, a customer buys the pads and rotors, and this shop installs them, regardless of whether the customer needs them or not.
The website claims that the mechanic will come to you, perform a test drive, but not perform what would be considered an inspection. If you want to have the brake system inspected, that costs an additional $105. Maybe by pricing the inspection higher than the actual brake job, the customer will just have the pads installed and not buy the inspection. I think the company is doing this to remove any legal liability.
The BYOBP service offers a 12-month/12,000-mile “workmanship/labor” warranty. If you bring the car back, there is a $55 inspection fee that might be waived if they fess up, but I’d bet they will always blame the parts they did not have to buy.
On Twitter, they posted this, which pretty much confirms the business ethics they follow:
Here is a hypothetical situation every driver thinking about buying a BYOPB brake job should ponder: You are driving down the freeway at 70 mph, and you have to make a panic stop. What do you want behind you?
Option A: A car with the cheapest possible brake pads that were installed in a gutter by a guy sitting cross-legged who may or may not have car insurance.
Option B: A car with a brake job performed by an ASE-certified technician at a shop with insurance using the best possible parts so they don’t get sued.
Ninety-nine percent of consumers will choose option B because they don’t want to take the chances of getting hit. Unfortunately, this is not hypothetical. Every day, drivers get into situations where brakes need to be 100% effective.
What can be done about BYOBP operators and gutter brake jobs? Some say it is up to shops to petition their local governments to pass rules about how a mobile business can operate. They have done this with food trucks to protect restaurants, so why not auto repair?
I want to make this clear: I have nothing against reputable mobile guys. They are out there, and some do great work and are licensed and carry insurance. But the recent crop of fly-by-night mobile brake repair operators have to be regulated and soon.