Master Cylinder Replacement Cost 2023 – What to Consider
A new master cylinder typically costs between $250 and $700, with the full job generally costing around $380. With the brake bleed included, that equates to parts costing $50 to $170 and labor taking 1 to 2 hours. The price of parts does, however, vary. You might need to replace those as well because a bad master cylinder can ruin your brakes and pads.
The master cylinder is a likely suspect if your brakes are becoming stiff, unresponsive, or sinking. That is particularly true if you find yourself frequently changing your brake fluid or if your brakes actually feel spongy.
The good news is that changing the cylinder is not too difficult, but you will need to bleed the brakes afterwards.
What is a Brake Master Cylinder Replacement?
Removing the old brake master cylinder and installing the new one after thoroughly testing it constitutes a brake master cylinder replacement. Contrary to other forms of car maintenance, this procedure is challenging and calls for specialized tools; it cannot be safely performed at home in your driveway or garage.
If you use aftermarket parts, this repair will typically cost between $200 and $500, though for some makes and models it could cost as much as $750 or $900, depending on the make and model of your car and the repair facility you take it to.
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are always significantly more expensive, and for some cars, replacing the brake master cylinder can cost over $2,000 in total.
How Much Does Master Cylinder Replacement Cost?
The make and model of your car will always have the biggest impact on how much it will cost to replace the master cylinder. That’s because your engine will need various parts, including ones that can withstand heat.
On smaller or more intricately constructed engines, your mechanic will also take longer to replace the component.
To give you a general idea of how much costs vary from car to car, the following chart lists the estimated costs for replacing the brake master cylinder in various vehicles.
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Master Cylinder Replacement Price Factors
The make and model of your car is the most crucial cost factor when replacing a master cylinder.
Your final bill, however, will be influenced by the following cost variables.
Part Type and Condition
The reservoir, piston, and spring are the three main parts of a master cylinder. You have the option to buy the entire replacement or just a portion of it in this case.
In this instance, a single reservoir system is used to pressurize both the front and rear brakes.
Dual reservoir systems provide an additional layer of security by using separate tanks for each brake system. Each of these variables affects prices.
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You should also take into consideration the part’s brand and condition.
A brand-new, OEM master cylinder can range in price from $160 for a Ford part to more than $1,000 for a Lexus part.
These are made to fit into any vehicle that has those precise measurements and specifications.
An even more affordable option is a universal part, which is designed to fit into the broadest range of automobiles. But there might be a few minor fit variations.
To further reduce costs, you can always go with a used or remanufactured part. The age of your car, the state of the part, your overall budget, etc. should all be taken into consideration when making this decision.
Sadly, not all mechanics will install used components.
Bleeding the Brakes
You always need to bleed the brakes after removing the master cylinder. That can add significantly to the total cost of the job.
The cost of new brake fluid may also be added. A diagnostic check and scan are necessary in this case for some vehicles to bleed. In other situations, if you’d prefer, you can complete the task at home.
It typically accounts for up to $100 of the total costs in either scenario.
Other Parts Needing Replacement
A bad master cylinder typically goes undetected until problems arise.
You may notice that your brake fluid is discolored, that your brake fluid is leaking, or that your brake pads are wearing unevenly at this point.A complete replacement of the brake fluid may be necessary as a result.
It’s possible that you’ll also need new brake discs or brake pads. Because you need to replace more than the master cylinder, the cost of your job as a whole may increase significantly.
Cost of Labor
Except if you drive a high-end vehicle where parts cost over $1,000, labor is always going to be one of the most expensive costs when replacing a brake master cylinder.
The time it takes to remove the old master cylinder and replace it, as well as the time it takes to bleed the brakes, account for the majority of the cost in this situation.
Therefore, you should budget at least $1 to $2 per hour of your mechanic’s time.
That will amount to an average of between $100 and $250 across the majority of the nation. In this case, your hourly rate will typically be $60 plus a shop fee.
The final rate really depends on where you go because mechanics’ hourly rates can range from $15 to 205+.
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5 Symptoms of a Bad Master Cylinder
You’ll likely become aware of a failing master cylinder if your brakes start to malfunction. According to what is wrong and why, symptoms can change.
The best indicators of a problem with a master cylinder are these five signs.
1. Fluid Leaks
Fluid leaks can occur anywhere in the brake system, but the master cylinder is where they most frequently occur.
If the reservoir is loose or if it has been cracked or otherwise harmed, you might experience problems with the seals inside the cylinder. Examining for physical damage is simple in this location.
Inspect the area around the master cylinder itself to see if there is any actual fluid leaking from it. Furthermore, the seals should never have fluid on them when you remove it, which is a good indicator that they are in good condition. If they do, there is a seal leak in the master cylinder.
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2. Spongy Or Soft Brake Pedal
It may be a master cylinder problem if your brake pedal is spongy, soft, or rises too slowly. In this case, low brake fluid could be the problem.
You may also need to replace the brake booster’s diaphragm if brake fluid has harmed it.
In fact, if you do have sealant leaks, your mechanic may insist on replacing both components at once, which can significantly raise the overall cost of the repair.
3. Discolored Brake Fluid
If you observe a color change in your brake fluid, there is likely systemic seepage.However, the master cylinder may not be the cause of this.
Instead, you might be experiencing a line problem or a seal leak elsewhere. Brake fluid will turn discolored if moisture enters the system.
However, if you notice that the brake fluid is discolored, the master cylinder is most likely the culprit and you should inspect it.
4. Drifting When Braking
The majority of master cylinders control each side of the car separately using a dual system of hydraulic brake circuits.
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When braking, you might even veer to the left or right because one side is working better than the other.
5. Uneven Brake Wear
The same causes as above contribute to uneven brake wear. But even when drift is so slight that you don’t notice it while driving, damage to brake pads and discs can still happen.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to check the master cylinder if you notice uneven brake pad wear while inspecting the brakes. This symptom, however, can also be caused by other problems with the steering or even the suspension.
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10 Steps: How to Change a Master Cylinder
You can perform master cylinder replacement on your own if necessary. However, in order to remove the brake lines, you will require a set of flare wrenches.
Other than that, there’s nothing special you’ll need to do, and you can probably finish the job yourself in an hour or so. The brake lines must then be bled, which you might not be able to do without a scan.
Things You’ll Need:
- Disposable gloves
- Drain pan
- Flare wrenches for brake line
- Ratchet and socket set
- Crescent wrenches
- Replacement master cylinder
- Brake cleaner
- Paper towels/shop towels
Replacing Your Master Cylinder
It’s fairly simple to change your master cylinder, and you can do it from the hood of your car.
However, you might still want to take some simple safety precautions, such as removing your ignition key before unplugging your battery from the negative post.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to chock the back wheels.
- Pump the brake pedal while the engine is off to release the vacuum system’s pressure. When the pedal becomes stiff, stop.
- In the back, on the driver’s side, is where you should look for the master cylinder. It ought to be almost up against the engine’s back wall.
- By pressing the pin down, disconnect the electrical wire from the cylinder, remove it, and put the clip aside.
- Applying a ratchet and socket, remove the mounting nuts.
- Use paper towels to shield the engine as you undo the brake lines with the flare wrench. As you slide the master cylinder into a drain pan, stopper the ends with your fingers while still wearing gloves.
- If you accidentally spilled brake fluid, especially on paint, immediately wash it off with water.
- The master cylinder’s seal should be examined. You’ll probably need to replace the brake booster as well if it’s drenched in fluid.
- Cleaning the mounting surface with brake cleaner is recommended.
- Replace the old master cylinder.
- Reattach everything in the reverse order of how you removed the cylinder.
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After everything is put back in its proper place, you must bleed the brakes. To do this, check your car to make sure the brake fluid is the appropriate kind.
To complete the task, you might even need to remove the wheels. Additionally, to properly bleed the brakes, you’ll need a siphon or a hand pump.
Visiting a mechanic may be a wise decision in this situation. Brake bleeds are typically inexpensive at most stores.
But you can do it yourself if you have a small pump or turkey baster. To learn how to bleed your brakes, make sure to consult the owner’s manual for your car.
It’s usually either passenger rear-driver rear-passenger-driver or furthest to closest, though. To bleed the brakes, you will require assistance.
These responses ought to help if you still have queries about changing your master cylinder.
How Long Does It Take to Replace a Master Cylinder?
Most of the time, your mechanic will bill you for 1-2 hours of labor, which includes bleeding the brakes. If you’re doing the work for yourself the first time, you can expect it to take a bit longer.
However, if you know what you’re doing, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to completely replace your master cylinder in under an hour.
Can You Drive With a Bad Master Cylinder?
Driving a car with a damaged master cylinder can be extremely risky. This is so that the brakes could malfunction, preventing you from stopping and causing you to drift when you do.
Driving slowly to a mechanic is probably safe enough, but long-term driving is very risky.
How Often Should Master Cylinder Be Replaced?
Most master cylinders have a lifespan of up to 150 000 miles. Here, the reservoir and the seals are vulnerable points because they are both brittle.
If so, replacing the reservoir is typically all that is necessary. You will need to replace the entire cylinder if the seal is compromised.
What Does It Mean When Your Brakes Go to the Floor?
You probably don’t have enough brake fluid if your brakes lock up. However, you might want to check if there are any other vacuum-related issues.
You have a serious problem, whatever it may be, and you need to fix it.
The typical cost of replacing a master cylinder, including labor and brake bleeding, is $500. You can save money by doing the work yourself.
Additionally, you can always save money by selecting aftermarket or even remanufactured parts.