Car Corner
Lifetime Warrantee On Brakes - Are You Sure

October 1, 2002
By Scott Lewis

This month I was supposed to tell you about O'Reilly's Auto Parts poor practice with their lifetime warrantee on their brake pads.

However, I received a reply from O'Reilly's the night I posted this article. They were responding to an e-mail I sent them complaining about the situation. In that e-mail they assured me that the person at the store I dealt with was incorrect and they would be glad to refund my money.

That leaves me with a dilemma for this month's article. So I will just have to ramble for a few paragraphs since the main point of my article became moot. Also, please excuse the sloppy writing as I only had less than an hour to completely rewrite this article.

The Story of Brakes

I finally did it. After doing brake jobs for about 18 years, I finally saved my receipt and managed to do everything right to collect on the awe inspiring "lifetime warrantee on brakes."

Time For A Brake Job

I have been at my new job for 1 year (as you read this). I have put 22,000 miles on my car during that time. (I also put a little more than 1,000 miles on my "new" 67 Camaro convertible). With all this mileage it is understandable that I need a brake job. It has been a while since the last time I did a brake job. I remember doing all the brakes, and loved the feel of completely new brakes.

That last time I was determined to save the receipt for the brake pads. They came with a lifetime warrantee. I have always balked at such warrantees. I could never remember where I put the receipt. Probably in the box with the old pads... and threw them away.

I assumed I lost the receipt this time when by chance I found the old box of brake pads. There was no receipt in the box. But I was amazed I still had the old parts after two or three moves. So where did I put that receipt?

My brother-in-law needed to do a brake job on his F-250 truck. They wanted to charge him $230 (roughly) for just the front brakes. I helped him and it cost him about $65. A nice savings.

My pads were getting dangerously thin. I didn't want to have the rotors turned, so I definitely wanted to do a brake job before the rotors were affected. That morning I decided to look in the glove compartment of my car. Among all the crap in there I found Nirvana... the receipt for the front and rear brake pads.

I proceeded to jack up my car on four jack stands and removed all the brake pads. This was it. I knew I would need to bring the old brake pads in to get the new ones under the warrantee. I normally never do this. For one thing, I always buy the brakes before taking the car apart. Then I always do one brake at a time. This way I can always look at the one that is together to make sure I put things back correctly.

Lifetime Warrantee

Well, as luck would have it my brother-in-law was planning to go to O'Reilly's to get his rotors turned and pick up his parts. That just so happens to be where I bough my pads. I went down there with my brother-in-law, and brake pads and receipt in hand.

Here is where the original article fell apart. Let's just say that I was able to collect on the brake pads.

As an example of how bad brakes can get, I once had a car that was so bad I need to get help to do the brake job. Half the rotor was completely gone (the car barely stopped as I brought it to a friends). The pads, with no material left, were up against the vents in the vented rotors. The was no solid material at all left on the rotor.

Brake Shops

A quick word about brake shops that offer lifetime warrantees. I have seen ads recently claiming lifetime warrantee on brakes with sayings like "never buy brake pads again." The gimmick here is that to collect the free brake pads you still have to pay them to install them... at inflated prices both when you get them and when you try to get them replaced.

I once had a friend that bought brakes with a lifetime warrantee from a large chain operation. His brake pads lasted less than a year, if memory serves me. They wanted to charge him a large amount of money to install the free brake pads. I told him to tell them to just give him the pads and tell them he will install them himself. They actually did this... but of course said it voided the warrantee if they didn't install them. Yea, I saw that coming too.

I did my friend's brakes for him. We were in the military at the time, so we did the work at the auto shop on base. All my friend had to buy was the seals for the rotors. I don't remember how much they were but I think they were around $3 each... that's $6 for two seals. Ouch! We cut the rotors on the lathe at the auto shop, and I don't remember if they even charged for that, but I can assume it would be a truly nominal change. The military is pretty good about that kind of stuff.

BTW... my friend's brakes lasted until long after he moved out of Texas and I lost track of him.


Well, that's enough rambling for this month.

Hopefully next month I will be telling you about getting my 67 Camaro back on the road. Stay tuned...