Brake Booster Replacement Cost

Written by: Staff

A brake booster lies within the brake pedal and the master cylinder, using either hydraulic pressure or a vacuum to help aid the car operator as the brakes are being used.

While conventional systems used a vacuum booster, most modern-day vehicles use a hydraulic brake system, which is designed to use the hydraulic pressure that is generated by the vehicle’s power steering pump instead of the vacuum system.

Brake Booster Replacement Cost
New Master Cylinder” (CC BY 2.0) by Ryan Frost

The average brake booster replacement costs

The costs of replacing a brake booster will depend on your vehicle make/model, the dealer/mechanic you choose and your geographical location in most circumstances.  From our research, the costs can greatly vary as parts for various makes/models can differ.  To budget when hiring a professional, be prepared to spend anywhere from $320 to $650.

The parts, depending on the make and model, can cost average $88 to $250, while labor, often taking up to two hours, can add another $200 to $300 to the total bill, bringing the grand total to the estimates mentioned — about $300 to $600ish range.

According to, they mentioned the average cost to replace a bad brake booster is about $290 and $720, and as for the parts, you can be prepared to spend $160 to $550.

What is the brake booster?

The brake booster works when force is applied by the driver as he or she applies pressure on the brakes.  As pressure is applied to the brakes, a rod pushes itself into the brake booster, forcing it to instantaneously push into the master cylinder with vaster force, letting the driver push the brakes with no difficulty, eventually letting the car come to a stop depending on the amount of force that’s applied.

Symptoms of a bad master cylinder

If this part were to fail, the first thing a driver may notice is the pressure as the brakes are used.  If the brakes seem like they are not responding to your pressure and/or it is harder to push the pedal, then this could be a sign of a poor brake booster.  According to, if a vacuum booster were to fail, it often creates a vacuum leak, causing the car to run rough, harder to start and/or misfire while the engine is idling.

Other signs to look out for include a “check engine” light illuminating on the dashboard, poorer-than-average gas mileage or power/brake steering fluid leaking in the case your vehicle uses a hydro-boost system.  In any case, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, do not drive the car as the brakes will not work as intended and could lead to unfortunate circumstances when wanting to come to a complete stop.

The repair process

To diagnose that the brake booster is the problem, the mechanic will first want to check the brakes while the engine is running to see how the pedals react to pressure.  If it’s displaying any of the symptoms above, then the brake booster will be tested on its own to see if the part is faulty.  If the car uses a vacuum boost system, then the mechanic will draw air from the part while observing the pressure drop, but if your car uses a hydraulic system, then, in this case, the hydraulic pressure will need to be measured.  In both cases, if these readings are normal, but the brake booster is not functioning as it should, then the problem relies on the part.

Once the part is confirmed as the culprit, the brake booster is detached from the car by taking out the master cylinder, brake booster vacuum or the hydraulic lines, and lastly, the brake booster part.  In the case of a hydraulic booster, the power steering is often flushed after the part is swapped.

The entire repair will take about 60 to 90 minutes to complete.

How to tell if brake booster or master cylinder is bad

Some people often confuse the master cylinder with the brake booster, and to tell the difference between the two, there are a few things you can do to confirm the problem.  First, if the booster is faulty, then the main culprit will always rely upon the braking system.  Your brakes will feel almost like they are seized up and do not want to react to your pressure.  They will feel spongy and hard in general.  A very hard to push pedal is almost always the sign of a bad brake booster.

On the other hand, if the master cylinder is considered to be the bad part, then it often leaks internally and no leaks are often noted from the outside, meaning the fluids will travel back into the reservoir, causing the braking system to show similar symptoms.

Tips to know

Normally, a brake booster will last the lifetime of the car, but as with any car parts, they can fail due to a malfunction or in some cases, a dry climate can cause the part to deteriorate, ultimately requiring replacement.

If your check engine light is on and the OBD code reads P050F, then this is a sign the brake assist vacuum pressure is too low.

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