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Brake Wheel Cylinder Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your brake wheel cylinder replacement? Use Jerry’s GarageGuard to get fair cost estimate for your brake wheel cylinder replacement.
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John Davis
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Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content
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Edited by Jessica Barrett, Senior Car & Insurance Editor

How much does a brake wheel cylinder replacement cost?

The average total cost for a brake wheel cylinder replacement is $200 to $350. The exact price will depend on your vehicle’s year and model.
The parts cost includes replacing your brake wheel cylinder, and possibly your brake shoes. As for the labor cost, it takes around 1 to 4 hours for a certified mechanic to inspect your vehicle, determine whether a repair is necessary, and then perform the brake wheel cylinder replacement.
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How did we estimate these prices?

Jerry's experts researched and collected data from 2500+ real repair shops in all 50 states in the US, including everything from the total cost of repair services to the hourly labor cost for mechanic labor in each shop. We combined that data with our expert database of hundreds of real repair jobs, thousands of real cars, millions of real car part prices in order to best estimate the cost of each repair service. Our labor cost estimate is calculated by taking the average hourly labor rate for a certified mechanic in the US, times the number of hours it takes on average to complete a repair. We recommend you compare your local shops with Jerry and contact those shops directly to get final pricing for your vehicle.

What do I need for a brake wheel cylinder replacement?

A wheel cylinder forms part of a drum brakes system. Drum brakes aren’t quite as efficient as disc brakes (which use rotors, calipers, and brake pads), but they’re cheaper to make, so they often make up the rear brakes.
However they’re built, brakes are subject to a lot of wear and tear, so your repair costs might include:
  1. A new brake wheel cylinder ($7-$820): Pressing the brake pedal causes the master wheel cylinder to force pressurized brake fluid down the brake lines to the drums. The wheel cylinders inside the drums then force the brake shoes outward against the drum linings, and the friction stops your wheels. As a result of all the pressure and wear involved in braking, wheel cylinders are prone to leaks and cracks.
  2. Brake drum backing plate ($25-$555): Brake backing plates hold your drum brakes together. They stop your brake shoes from snapping under the force of stopping your vehicle's wheels and shield other components from heat. Your drums and wheel cylinders need sturdy, intact backing plates as an anchor and mounting point.
  3. Brake shoes
    ($15-$90): In a drum brakes system, brake shoes press against the inside of the brake drum and slow the wheels. Because they’re crucial for stopping and prone to wear and tear, good mechanics check them (and the brake drums they rub against) at every opportunity. Rear brakes often use drums.
  4. Brake fluid
    ($5-$40): Brake fluid is the thin, hydraulic oil that courses through your vehicle’s brakes. In most cases, a failing brake master cylinder will lead to a low brake fluid level that needs to be topped up.
Keep in mind If your brake wheel cylinders need to be replaced, you might also require a new backing plate, brake shoes, and brake fluid to complete your drum brakes.
We recommend purchasing parts at local auto parts stores like AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, and NAPA Auto Parts, as well as online retailers like Amazon and RockAuto. We also recommend reputable brands such as ACDelco, Centric Parts, and Raybestos for brake wheel cylinder components. However, like price, recommended brands may also vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model.
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts cost a lot more than aftermarket parts, but they often include better warranties. For example, a new genuine Toyota brake wheel cylinder includes a 24-month/25,000-mile warranty (if it’s installed by a certified Toyota mechanic). The cost is even higher for luxury makes like Audi or Mercedes-Benz. That being said, some aftermarket performance parts manufacturers offer just as much quality as OEM parts.
You can buy new brake wheel cylinders at automotive body and parts shops like AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts and NAPA Auto Parts; at dealerships; or online at Amazon and RockAuto. If you prefer OEM parts, try shopping on your vehicle manufacturer’s official website. Honda, Chevrolet, GMC, Dodge, and just about every other car maker all sell OEM parts online. Check your owner’s manual for any crucial specifications so you don’t buy the wrong parts.

Where can I get my brake wheel cylinder replaced?

Everyone knows comparison-shopping nets you the best price, but you need the right data to make an informed choice. To find a great local mechanic, try using Jerry's
GarageGuard™
, the Jerry of car repair quotes!
Jerry's GarageGuard™ provides fair price estimates* for brake wheel cylinder replacements and other repairs from over 2,500 vetted repair shops across the country. You’ll be able to see their real hourly labor rates and diagnostic fees—plus what real users had to say about them!
Check out some of our vetted shops below and download the app to compare auto repair quotes in your area.
119 Reviews
RepairSmith - Orange County
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(Remote Truck Service), Anaheim, CA
134 Reviews
Tuffy Tire & Auto Service - East Colonial
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10938 E Colonial Dr,, Orlando, FL
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$129
162 Reviews
Z.A. & D. Service Station
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31-5 38th Ave, Long Island, NY
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$135
154 Reviews
61 Auto Center
address
1226 Centre Ave, Reading, PA
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$70
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How did we vet these shops?

Jerry experts researched 2500+ real repair shops across the US. We talked to real shop customers, and analyzed both real shop pricing data and thousands of real customer reviews from each shop to verify them individually. We do not partner with the shops listed above, and our analysis is always unbiased.

How does a mechanic replace a brake wheel cylinder?

A brake wheel cylinder replacement requires basic equipment, moderate skills, and an experienced eye for detail and potential problems. Take your vehicle to a mechanic for a brake wheel cylinder replacement, and they will:
  1. Prepare your vehicle by raising it on a lift or jack stand, removing the wheels, and dismantling the drum brakes.
  2. Inspect your brake drums, backing plates, wheel cylinders, and brake shoes. They’ll also pay close attention to the brake hoses, rubber seals, and return springs that reset your wheel cylinders after braking.
  3. Replace your front or rear wheel cylinders.
  4. Clean the assembly of brake dust with brake cleaner.
  5. Bleed the brake lines of air and top up the brake fluid reservoir, as necessary.
  6. Reassemble the drum brakes, replace the wheels, and tighten the lug nuts.
  7. Test the brakes to ensure proper operation.

Can you drive with a bad brake wheel cylinder?

It’s unsafe to drive with a bad brake wheel cylinder or any other faulty brake component. Let’s imagine for a moment that you lost the ability to stop your vehicle, all 4,000+ pounds of it. On second thought, let’s not; the results are ugly.
Left alone, a bad brake wheel cylinder could crack or explode under the pressure exerted by your brakes. Don’t compromise the safety of you, your passengers, or anybody else on the road—get your vehicle to a garage as soon as you suspect an issue.

What is a brake wheel cylinder replacement?

A brake wheel cylinder replacement is an infrequent maintenance service that involves inspecting and replacing a crucial part of your vehicle’s drum brakes. The brake wheel cylinders withstand tons of pressure day in and day out. They’re prone to cracking and leaking.
The only cure is a new wheel cylinder; any attempted repairs will soon fail. Given the amount of pressure your brakes experience, such a failure could be dramatic and catastrophic.

What are the symptoms of a faulty brake wheel cylinder?

The most obvious symptoms of a faulty brake wheel cylinder are:
  1. A brake pedal that feels mushy or spongy when you press it, or that sinks all the way to the floor
  2. A brake warning light on your dashboard
  3. Poor braking performance—your car takes longer and longer to stop
  4. Brakes that seize or drag
  5. Brake fluid leaking from your rear or front brakes
Ask your mechanic to inspect your brake wheel cylinders and your entire braking system at least once per year. Faulty cylinders could damage the other parts around them and brake fluid itself is corrosive, so it’s best to catch any problems early!
Key Takeaway You may need new brake wheel cylinders if you experience braking power issues, leaks, or an abnormal brake pedal.

How often do you need to replace a brake wheel cylinder?

How often you need to replace your brake wheel cylinders depends on your vehicle, but they generally last 3-5 years or 75,000 miles. Like other braking components, how you drive makes all the difference. Frequent hard stops in heavy traffic will quickly exhaust your entire braking system. Infrequent, leisurely highway cruises? Not so much.

Can I replace my brake wheel cylinder myself?

You can replace your broken brake wheel cylinder by yourself, but it’ll take a long time. It’s best to replace both brake wheel cylinders at once since they wear out at the same rate. That means twice the labor and double the odds of breaking a rusted component or missing an important detail. 
If there’s one thing you don’t want to rush, it’s working on your brakes. Set aside one whole day and a lot of patience for a DIY brake job of this size.

FAQs

No, a brake wheel cylinder isn't the same as a brake caliper, but they perform similar functions. A drum brake system uses wheel cylinders to force the brake shoes outward against the drums and stop the car using friction. A disc brake system uses calipers and brake pads to clamp onto the rotors and stop the car, also using friction. Both wheel cylinders and calipers are prone to breaking down over time.
The brake master cylinder is the first link in the chain reaction that stops your car, and the wheel cylinder is the last. By pressing the brake pedal, the master cylinder generates hydraulic pressure, which is then transmitted to the wheel cylinders by brake fluid and brake lines. In response to pressure, the wheel cylinders deploy their pistons and force the brake shoes against the drums, using friction to stop the wheels.
Replacing just one brake wheel cylinder isn't a good idea. In most cases, two brake wheel cylinders on one axle will wear out simultaneously unless your car's wheels are severely misaligned (or you've mixed and matched new and bald tires). When one fails, the other isn't far behind. Replacing them in pairs is the best practice.

Meet Our Experts

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John Davis
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Car Expert
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Certified mechanic with 10+ years of experience
John Davis is an expert automotive writer and former automotive mechanic. John's work spans multiple categories, and he relishes the opportunity to research a new subject and expand his area of expertise and industry knowledge. To date, John has written more than 200 articles covering car maintenance and care, car advice, how-to guides, and more.
Prior to joining Jerry’s editorial team, John worked as a mechanic and freelance writer, creating content for clients including HotCars and SetPower.
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Jessica Barrett
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Car Expert
Jessica Barrett is a senior insurance writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the automotive and travel industries. A specialist in car insurance, car loans, and car ownership, Jessica’s mission is to create comprehensive content that car owners can use to manage their costs and improve their lives. As a managing editor for a team of writers and insurance specialists, Jessica has edited over 2,000 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from local insurance shopping tips to refinancing car loans with bad credit.
Before joining Jerry as a senior content editor in 2021, Jessica created visual content for clients such as Expedia, Vivid Seats, Budget Direct Car Insurance, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor. Her content was published in Business Insider, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, and the BBC.
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Kathleen Flear
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Car Expert
Kathleen Flear is an expert insurance writer and editor who heads up Jerry’s editorial team as director of content. Kathleen empowers drivers to make smart car ownership decisions through  best-in-class articles on insurance, loans, and maintenance. Prior to joining Jerry in 2021, Kathleen served as managing editor for a team of SEO content marketing professionals at Article-Writing.co and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a range of digital publications, including Chicago Literati magazine and Golden Words. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in creative writing and fiction from Sierra Nevada University.
*The price information provided on our car repair webpages is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual prices for car repair services may vary based on various factors, including but not limited to the make and model of your vehicle, the extent of repair required, and the prevailing market conditions. All prices for real repair shops are estimations based on our research only. Therefore, the prices listed on our webpages should not be considered as final quotes or binding offers.