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Old 02-01-2005, 02:15 AM   #1
[YeS.SiR]
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2012 SWP STi

Default Cobb Stage 1 Brakes Info *very verbose*

THE BACKGROUND
Earlier this month, Don Docksteader had said that my brake pads were running low and likely wouldn't make it to the next service interval. Thanks to the replies on my search for information here I decided to go with a simple pads/lines/fluid job. I chose the Cobb Stage 1 brake package because it included all of this for a price of $295US (somewhat high, but it claims to work together, so I figure someone is liable for that claim). Instead of waiting the weeks for Cobb to send the package, I sourced out an authorized Cobb dealer.

THE MECHANICS
At 6AM this morning I left Vancouver for a day of shopping in Seattle and made an 8AM appointment at Smart Service in Shoreline, Washington on the way down. Smart Service is an authorized Cobb dealer, and much like Total in North Vancouver, they specialize in Subarus, though they are independant of the brand. They have a cozy showroom littered with Cobb parts (and others), brochures and pamphlets directly from Subaru, and the latest car magazines. The interior was clean and smell-free, which is appreciated.

THE SERVICE
I arrived there shortly after 8AM to drop off the car. The car was done before 12PM. The Service manager at Smart Service was courteous and knowledgeable and very professional. What I don't understand with most dealers is why they don't call when the car is done ... many times I show up there 30 minutes early to find my car sitting the the parking lot, the work having been completed well beforehand. In business, if you can properly and competently exceed expectations, let your customers know!

Beforehand, I had also been emailing with the Owner/Operator - Mike Corbin - who was diligent with his responses and his phone calls. The appointment was easily arranged.

On the invoice, this is the job description: "Technician replaced the front and rear brake pads using Cobb street performance pads after cleaning and lubing the caliper sliding surfaces, replaced the brake lines using cobb braided stainless lines, flushed and bled the brake fluid using ATE super blue brake fluid."

THE PRICE
$99.95USD Front pads
$89.95USD Rear pads
$149.95USD SS brake lines
$14.95USD ATE Super blue

I wasn't offered the Stage 1 package price of $295. Instead, I paid $60US more for the separate parts. I have put out an inquiry to the owner, who wasn't at the shop when I picked up my car. I am awaiting a response. I realize that the local aftermarket price should be slightly more than $295, but not $60US more.

$283.48USD 3.8 hours @ $74.60/hr

Note that their labour is charged ALMOST at the same rate as Don Docksteader. That's about $95CAD/hour (Don Docksteader is $105). I don't mind paying dealer prices for quality service, but I was surprised that it took 3.8 hours to install lines, pads and fluids. The service manager said that they normally charge 4 hours if it isn't installed as a package.

$56.17USD Washington State taxes

I appreciated the fact that the service manager waived the environmental levy of $12USD. Upon my return to the car, I discovered that Smart Service also included a magnet, keychain, mug, pen, pad of paper and business card in my car. A nice batch of paraphanelia.

$120.76CAD Canadian taxes at Customs, since this wasn't an emergency repair though my brake pads were running very low.

Including gas down there, the total came to just over $1000CAD.

THE VERDICT (after 300kms)
I feel a little more tightness in the last half of the pedal action. The brakes bite a little cleaner. So, the sensation has improved slightly. Performance? It seems that stopping distance from 60-0 has been reduced, though this could just be my confidence in the new brakes. Fade? I don't know, I haven't had the chance to repeatedly brake hard, but I do look forward to a track day in the early summer.

So, I now have new pads that should last me at least a few years. The new pads have a better feeling and likely perform better. An improvement? Definitely. A thousand dollar improvement? Hardly.

THE LOOK
I am a (proud?) new owner of turquoise pads, the only part that you can see.

Rear wheel:


Front wheel:
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Old 02-01-2005, 02:31 AM   #2
tora
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YesSir, I really don't understand (even though you got overcharged), why you would do this. And you're not the only one. You could have had all that you did, for less than half the price. Goodridge lines are $125 in Vancouver. Brake pads, depending on what you get $100-$150 (the latter for Porterfield), and $80-$100 for good rears....Hawk, Porterfield...other. Fluid would cost about $20-30 depending on what you use Motul or other. Labor, you could easily find a competent mechanic who could have done this for 1.5 hrs labor....maybe 2. Even if it was more you'd save at least $400 and all the time of going into the US and giving your money to them instead of keeping it at home where you would have very appreciative shop people! Anyways, just my opinion and I don't mean to offer any offence with this as you are your own person and should do what you want. In hindsight maybe you would have done it the way I described above, but what I don't get is why people don't realize that before hand. Anyways, I hope your new brakes work out for you and down the road that $1k may be a life saving drop o' cash (you avoid a wicked accident with your quick stopping new brakes!)
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Old 02-01-2005, 02:36 AM   #3
AllWheelDrift
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Nice writeup. I just did my pads and fluid this weekend. Unfortunately the PBR pads they sold me initially didn't fit because the application guide was wrong, so I told them to get me 2003 pads even though my car is a 2002 because I knew my TS used the same ones for 2003 even though the book said they were different. So I ened up having to pay more for raybestos pads because it was the only thing they could get on short notice (and my pads were really worn).

I swapped on the new pads, and they felt pretty decent but my 48k calls for fluid as well. So I went to crappy tire and bought a couple bottles of Ford Dot 3 fluid. With my dad's help (he stepped on the brake for me) I bled the brakes, flushing them until fresh fluid was visible at each wheel. While I was at it I checked my rear drums and they had a decent amount of pad left. (Dang, can't justify the rear disc conversion just yet.) Anyhow, my first impression was that the new pads grabbed better, though by the 2nd day I reversed my opinion. I'm not sure but it feels like pedal effort is up a bit (really only noticeable while heel/toe braking) but pedal feel has improved. It could just be the firmer/higher pedal making it feel like effort is increased.

Cost
$70 for Rabestos pads (PBR would have been $50 and a better pad)
$10 for Ford Dot 3 (550F) fluid (Dry boiling point is almost as high as Motul)

Verdict
Cheap service to replace completely worn stock pads and improve feel. Next time I have to work on the brakes I'll probably do rear disc conversion, SS lines, and better pads.
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Old 02-01-2005, 02:44 AM   #4
[YeS.SiR]
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Default

Tora --

I realized that I was paying a premium for the Cobb name.
I also knew I'd be paying a total of 22% tax.
I didn't mind the drive, since I was heading to the area for another purpose to begin with.
And I don't mind trying out a new shop with a reputable name so that I can share with others.

... but that's about all. I agree with you on the rest. I likely wouldn't make this purchase again.

I needed brakes. I didn't want OEM pads. I don't know any local mechanics that I trust with something as important as brakes.

The things that sit uncomfortably with me are:
1) paying $354.80US for a package advertised at $295US, though this issue hasn't been settled, since there might have been an error.

2) paying a very high rate for labour, which usually comes with expertise AND having to pay for twice the time I expected, which usually DOESN'T come with expertise.

3) Having to pay canadian tax ON the Washington tax that I paid! (but I realize that's what Customs does, though I've asked for a written policy on this and no one has been able to show me).
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Old 02-01-2005, 02:50 AM   #5
tora
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Default

Did you have to claim it coming across the border? I mean would they have noticed if you didn't claim it? I do understand that if you are in the area, why not try something new, and I have no qualms with that. My comment was to people in general who think that purchasing in the US is always cheaper (and it sometimes IS!), but have the hassle of customs, waiting for shipping, extra taxes and you end up paying the same or more (yes, sometimes less) but for me my time is not worth that effort. Anyways, I think it was a great product write-up and hopefully a good lesson for others who don't make the same mistake (not exactly a mistake, but you get my point).
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Old 02-01-2005, 03:11 AM   #6
[YeS.SiR]
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Default

Tora --

You never *have* to claim anything ... but I do feel it is my duty to truthfully answer questions asked of me by customs. That's just me.

If I had not woken up at 5AM and driven 5 hours, I likely would have been let through ... but I didn't craft my answers as well as I should have and I had to pay my dues. That's understandable. On top of that, I had all this Smart Service stuff in my car as well as a bag with my old lines and pads and a receipt for the job.

I wasn't going to the States to get something cheaper today, but more for a certain peace of mind from getting a reputable package installed by an authorized dealer.

The lesson to be learned is: Know the price, know the product.

If I had known beforehand that the product would perform only marginally better than stock, that would have helped. If I had known that they shouldn't have charged 3.8 hours of labour, that would have helped.

And, of course, if customs had let me through, that would have been super!
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Old 02-01-2005, 03:37 AM   #7
chopchop
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PSM

Default

holy crap, $1000 for new brake pads?! i haven't change my pads yet but it seems way too pricey for me... but i guess they are good quality ones?
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Old 02-01-2005, 03:50 AM   #8
supermarkus
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SSM

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new lines and fluid too, not just the pads. It does seem that you were a bit overcharged. I've always had really pleasant experiences with Smart Service and they typically charge way less than dealership service centers.
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Old 02-01-2005, 04:16 AM   #9
[YeS.SiR]
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by supermarkus
new lines and fluid too, not just the pads. It does seem that you were a bit overcharged. I've always had really pleasant experiences with Smart Service and they typically charge way less than dealership service centers.
Don't get me wrong ... the service was very pleasant, and the service manager said that he'd look into it, as far as the product price goes. I just don't think that there is value in this purchase, despite the great and professional customer service.

Who kn ows, maybe there was an oversight. I plan to speak with the owner again, who is also very courteous.
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Old 02-01-2005, 11:48 AM   #10
steve
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You paid $1000 for pads and lines?!?!?!


ouch.
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Old 02-01-2005, 11:54 AM   #11
Deziwoo
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yeah

i changed my pads, lines, rotors, fluids for 1500........

seems a little steep but you do get quality parts... and when it comes to stopping a 4000 pound vehicle..... quality and reliability are high on my list! hehe
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Old 02-01-2005, 11:59 AM   #12
tora
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deziwoo
yeah

i changed my pads, lines, rotors, fluids for 1500........

seems a little steep but you do get quality parts... and when it comes to stopping a 4000 pound vehicle..... quality and reliability are high on my list! hehe
Unless your car is a Ferrari, there is no way pads lines and fluid should cost that much. And your car is closer to 3000lbs (unless you are talking about a different car than what is in your profile.)
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Old 02-01-2005, 12:27 PM   #13
Deziwoo
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i just got a fat ass that's why! hehe naw i just pulled that number from my waking up mode brain.....

anyways yeah i know i overpaid for my parts and install........ but my "friend" hooked me up and well wut can i say........ never bought **** from him anymore!

but seriously.... the rotors really made the big difference......... i got brembro rotors that were drilled and they made the stopping power feel really good in the dry....

pbr ceramic brake pads helped lots too

but the SS lines really made the squishy feeling go away!

overpaid? yeah........ but stoppin on a dime: crashless (knock on wood)
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Old 02-01-2005, 12:40 PM   #14
Penphoe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deziwoo

overpaid? yeah........ but stoppin on a dime: crashless (knock on wood)
Too bad it didn't cost you a dime to stop on it!

Live and learn. I wouldn't have paid $1000 for a brake job! Then again, I paid like $800 for 4-pots and rotors, and brake lines, and fluid and installation of the lines. Not all at the same time though, but heck, now that I think of it, I did spend around $1000 on the whole schebang. At least I can say I got my hands dirty while installing the 4-pots and bleeding my own brakes. Just didn't have the tools to do the brakelines myself.

LaterZ!
Darren!!
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Old 02-01-2005, 12:50 PM   #15
AllWheelDrift
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penphoe
Just didn't have the tools to do the brakelines myself.
You can do it with normal wrenches if you're careful, or buying a set of flare-nut wrenches would still be cheaper than paying someone to do the install.
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Old 02-01-2005, 01:00 PM   #16
Penphoe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllWheelDrift
You can do it with normal wrenches if you're careful, or buying a set of flare-nut wrenches would still be cheaper than paying someone to do the install.
True, however not everyone is nearly as mechanically inclined as you are. That, and they're afraid to get their hands as well as their designer jeans dirty. That's why I drive an automatic! Big pill of sarcasm to be taken of course.

LaterZ!
Darren!!
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Old 02-01-2005, 01:01 PM   #17
tora
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For $1500 I got Sti 4-pots, WRX rotors, pads, fluid, rear drum to disc conversion (including all parts and labor). And the braking in my car improved MASSIVELY! Going from single pot fronts with little pinner discs, and drum rear to legacy GT rear discs with Porterfield R4S pads, and FHI 4-pots in front with same pads and stainless lines was an incredible difference, and well worth the coin I dropped on it.
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Old 02-01-2005, 01:07 PM   #18
kgb
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For that much, I had STi 4 pots + slotted stock WRX rotors in front, H6 rotors + brackets + new stock rear pads in the back. Granted the lines would have been about $100 more, and my new Bobcat pads came to $170 or so for the front
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Old 02-01-2005, 01:08 PM   #19
Penphoe
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But tora, you're special. Special as in special needs because you're a tall lanky white boy!

I wish I was special just like you!

Mr. Sir, just take comfort in the fact that you trust the people who worked on your car. At the time I had my brakelines installed, I was willing to pay the extra money to get it installed for the "security" knowing it was being done my professional mecahnics. If my brakes ever failed due to the brakelines being installed incorrectly, at least I had someone to sue! :monkey:

LaterZ!
Darren!!
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Old 02-01-2005, 01:10 PM   #20
AllWheelDrift
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tora
For $1500 I got Sti 4-pots, WRX rotors, pads, fluid, rear drum to disc conversion (including all parts and labor). And the braking in my car improved MASSIVELY! Going from single pot fronts with little pinner discs, and drum rear to legacy GT rear discs with Porterfield R4S pads, and FHI 4-pots in front with same pads and stainless lines was an incredible difference, and well worth the coin I dropped on it.
Wow, wasn't it expensive to have a licensed mechanic install all that stuff for you?

Did you do the disc/drum conversion at the same time as the 4 pot fronts? Also, where did you source the parts for the rear conversion?
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Old 02-01-2005, 01:31 PM   #21
tora
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Some of the info I'll have to PM you Bru. I did the conversion in stages due to time contraints and not having all the parts. I did the rears first which was neat as the car totall stopped nose diving as the rears were doing much more braking...or so it felt. i did the fronts shortly after. I did NOT get this done at my former workplace. As for the parts the guy who did it sourced all parts for me. Everything was used on this kit except the FHI 4piston calipers and pads, and lines, and fluid. Well only the rear hardware and front discs were used.
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Old 02-01-2005, 01:36 PM   #22
kgb
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Actually, going to my usual maintenance shop for all the brake install wasn't too bad... and I don't mind going there for something mechanical like the brakes
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Old 02-01-2005, 03:33 PM   #23
KIMUTAKU
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$1000cdn is way overpriced.. but glad u like the new setup.. and thx for sharing.. =)

that should be like 1.5hr job max..

my mechanic friend is very reliable.. if u need help next time, let me know.. pbr metallic f/r pads + fluid + labor will cost around $350cdn..
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Old 02-01-2005, 07:31 PM   #24
Gethin
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SS lines front $109
Motul 5.1 $15
KVR Pads front $60
Speed Bleeders front and rear $20

All bought at PDM Racing.
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Old 02-01-2005, 08:33 PM   #25
5 Zigen
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wow...$1000 for all those? i just can't believe it

pbr + fluid + labor for $350 CAD is still kinda deep...those pads are cheap!
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