Brake and Tire Services


The safety of your vehicle is our top priority above anything else.  For this reason, we will do a safety check any time you feel the need.  When it comes to brakes and your braking system, you can’t compromise on the function of anything.  Brake parts freeze up over time from rust and corrosion, this can cause a lack adjustments that can impair the friction needed to safely stop your vehicle.  In some cases, this can be a very dangerous situation.  Other brake failures can greatly limit stopping power and leave you without an option.  If your pedal goes to the floor or you feel your ability to stop is compromised, you should get the vehicle on a tow truck and make other transportation arrangements.

If you’re having problems with your brake system, schedule an appointment for service today.

Common signs that your vehicle is in need of a brake service can include:

  • A squealing or grinding sound when your brakes are applied
  • A pulsating sensation when you step on the brakes
  • A ‘brake’ icon illuminated on your dashboard*
  • An ‘ABS’ icon illuminated on your dashboard*
  • A ‘soft’ or ‘spongy’ feeling brake pedal
  • Unusual odors emitting from the wheels after the brakes are applied

Vehicle Masters will perform a thorough brake inspection of your brake pads & rotors or brake shoes & drums, the hydraulic systems calipers, hoses master cylinder and piping/lines for brake fluid, and the ABS system’s sensors and control module connections.  Once the diagnosis is complete, you will be informed of your vehicles condition and presented with whatever options you may have. We will get your authorization prior to any repair work being done.  In most cases we can do brake repairs within a few hours.

Most brake inspections are free, ABS electrical diagnostics are not.


Our brake services are done right.

If something feels off with your brakes, ignoring the signs can only lead to worsening brake problems in the future. As soon as you notice any of the following signs, it’s a good idea to bring your vehicle in as soon as possible. These symptoms could indicate brake problems such as bad brake pads, brake fluid leaks, a faulty ABS, and more.

  • If your brakes are making noises, including grinding, squealing, or metal on metal noises.
  • The pedal feels spongy when the brakes are applied.
  • Your steering wheel shakes while braking.
  • Your vehicle wobbles or pulsates when you brake at any speed.
  • Your car seems to pull to one side when you brake.
  • The brake light or ABS light on your dashboard is illuminated.


Savannah DoyleSavannah Doyle
23:27 02 Dec 22
My dad has been taking our family's cars here for as long as I can remember and we always come back for great, and friendly service. I took my car in for the first time by myself... and, although the name changed from Merlins to Vehicle Masters, hearing the owner Steve answer the phone was an immediate reassurance, knowing I would get straightforward, honest, reasonably priced, friendly, and good care. My car is very old and probably shouldn't last as long as it has- I know I owe Vehicle Masters great care for that!Taken in for everything from my alignment//breaks, to fixing the latch on my hood!read more
Stephen BeckerStephen Becker
17:27 15 Nov 22
Excellent. Very happy. My son’s car didn’t start. It just made clicking sounds. I did have a charger at home and charged up the battery enough to get it started. I really... couldn’t be sure if maybe my son left the lights on and accidentally drained the battery is 1 year old or if the alternator wasn’t charging the battery. I did call a place closer to my house but that guy was just trying to sell me a battery without even looking at the car. I called Vehicle Masters and Steve said he would check the batter and test the alternator. Vehicle Masters got me in the same day, tested everything, fully charged my son’s car battery. End result was my son probably just left his lights on and he is not in danger of getting stuck somewhere without the car starting. They didn’t even change me a diagnostic fee. They were very accommodating. Seems like they want to develop long-term more
antonio Brownantonio Brown
15:31 15 Nov 22
This establishment is located within the heart of the south suburbs. The environment is clean, the staff is friendly and they provide excellent service to the customer for... reasonable prices. The owner Steve is honest and will do everything possible to ensure quality work as well as customer satisfaction. I recommend anyone in need of auto body service to stop by here. You will not be more
Danny GDanny G
00:56 01 Nov 22
Steve went above and beyond to help me with a dinky little job bending an exhaust pipe - it was probably more of a hassle for him than anything, but he really went out of his way... to accommodate me for such a small thing. Steve is the kind of mechanic that's really hard to come by - he's good at what he does and isn't out to rip you off. So much in fact he didn't even ask me for any money for helping me out (but don't worry, i know it's not charity work). Only reason i mention that is because it speaks volumes about his character. Super pleased with the service - would recommend him to anyone. Thanks Steve!read more
Jennifer DeWildeJennifer DeWilde
19:04 12 Oct 22
Called ten places for help with diagnostic testing - everyone was three days out to help. The owner here was very helpful in trying to determine if this is a simple fix or... something more complicated. He was very accommodating and didn't hit me with a $175 fee just to walk in the door. I appreciate his business ethic a lot!!! Great A++++ service. Super fast and very fair with pricing! It was a simple fix for $80 and the other places around here wanted to charge me $100-$200 just to tell me what the problem was. He said let’s rule out the simplest possibilities first. He has my business in the future!!! I highly recommend them for your car more
Marlon bellMarlon bell
17:40 28 Aug 22
Lifted my jeep Wrangler 4in in the front and a 3/25in in the rear causing a squat affect..They did a great job had a few problems but the owner took care of it in a timely... more
Gail FloresGail Flores
11:20 28 Jul 22
Have always been very straight forward, fair priced, and eager to get my truck back to me as soon as they can. Have not had to return for any issues they have addressed.
Terry DusekTerry Dusek
10:43 28 Jul 22
I had a great experience. They fixed my car out quickly and even some problems I wasn't aware off. They provided quick and wonderful service.
jeff austinjeff austin
19:05 07 Jul 22
Had my fourth vehicle exhaust done by Vehicle Masters(Merlins) Excellent jobThanks Steven
08:46 07 Jul 22
Great experience. Great customer service
Lawrence LawsonLawrence Lawson
15:01 01 Jun 22
Great guys! They do great dependable work, honest and always helpful and willing to go that extra mile to help.
Zach JoritzZach Joritz
21:03 31 May 22
My family and I have been getting auto repair work done with Steve and his team for over ten years, and every experience has been nothing but professional, courteous, and... knowledgeable. Over the years, we have had repairs done on nearly every part of our cars and the team at Vehicle Masters has always been up to the task. I trust Steve to give me an honest assessment, and to do a high quality job with all repairs. I cannot recommend them enough!read more
Melissa GuarinoMelissa Guarino
15:48 23 May 22
We have been bringing our cars here for the last six years or so. Sometimes we are visiting more often than we would like for various issues, but dealing w/ Steve and team is... always a pleasant experience. They are everything you want out of a mechanic - honest, reasonable, reliable. Steve always takes his time to explain in detail what needs to be done to your car, when, and why. This last time, I mainly dealt with Shin, who also took his time to explain everything going on. As someone trying to get every last mile out of their car, I'm glad they are around. Highly recommend!read more
lonnie knightlonnie knight
00:08 13 May 22
I highly recommend this shop quality work by honest people Dave is the man for the job
Gary MarshallGary Marshall
09:42 04 Apr 22
Great business! Very professional, thoughtful, and they make sure you are completely satisfied with the work throughout the process.
Andy BurnsAndy Burns
18:29 18 Mar 22
First visit after the change over and my experience is starkly different. Much more amenable to discussions and alternative options. Going back shortly to get secondary work... done, looking forward to more
Erika RafaelErika Rafael
03:00 18 Jan 22
Went here to get my Highlander’s drivers side window fixed towards the time they were closing but they still squeezed us in. Excellent customer service! I am definitely coming... back 🙂read more
Charles JohnsonCharles Johnson
15:58 19 Nov 21
Went to get my car serviced & was done in less than an hour!! Parts were the original but new parts for my truck!!! Definitely will be going to them for anything else needed!!!... Highly recommended!!!read more
Scott WinterrothScott Winterroth
02:50 14 Nov 21
The crew at Vehicle Masters is very knowledgeable and trustworthy with my auto repairs and brakes. They are great mechanics that work on all types of cool cars but also work on... regular daily driver vehicles and trucks. I would recommend these local mechanics to anyone looking for a solid, trustworthy service for vehicle maintenance and repairs in Oak Forest. Thanks STEVE!read more
Mitch WeinerMitch Weiner
14:33 21 Sep 21
Good job. Great folks. Straight shooters, reasonably priced, same folks(owner) for decades. I'll definitely be back. Polite, friendly and professional ???
Jason RichardsonJason Richardson
15:19 02 Jun 21
I have been going to Vehicle Masters Performance Center (old Merlin's) in Oak Forest since I was 21 (I am almost 49 now). Steve is the most polite and thorough mechanic and owner... I know. Everyone talks about staying local and keeping our small businesses open, etc well this is definitely one that is a staple of the town of Oak Forest. Highly recommend coming here first and save yourself time shopping around for the right place. This is it! I won't go anywhere more

How much should it cost to replace brake pads and rotors with labor?

A quality brake job will vary from shop to shop.  We are focused on doing quality brake work over economy.  Although we want to be competitive, there are several factors in which we go beyond mainstream services.  We have been around, and we understand you get what you pay for. Brake pads and rotors start at $400. per axle and prices go up from there.  A good brake job takes time and bad brake job saves time.  You can get either out there.  Vehicle Masters is thorough.  While we won’t compromise safety, we understand the need to be flexible and are supportive of lesser efforts where sensible.

How much should a full brake job cost?

A complete brake repair — one that includes pads, rotor and caliper replacement — typically averages between $600 and $800. However, depending on the make and model of your vehicle, you can easily spend more than $1,000 on a complete brake job.

Should you replace all 4 brake pads at once?

No. Unless they are worn out, replace brake pads as needed.

If one brake pad on the front axle is replaced, then all brake pads on the front axle should be replaced.

How long does it take to change rotors and brakes?

Fixing your car’s brake pads and rotors should only take about an hour with all the cleaning and prep work involved.  In the event parts need to be ordered, plan on 2 to 3 hours from test-drive to test-drive.

How often do you replace brake rotors?

Ideally, you should have your brake pads replaced between every 30,000 and 50,000 miles, and your rotors replaced to avoid warpage.  Warpage occurs in most rotors.  If they aren’t warped, they are mostly too rusty to work with, thin or already warped.  This is based on conditional factors from the Chicago area.

Which brakes go out first?

In vehicles with a conventional proportioning valve, the front brakes typically wear twice as fast as the pads or shoes in the rear.

How can you tell if your rotors are bad?

  1. Vibrating Steering Wheel. If you feel pulsing in the brake pedal and vibration in the steering wheel when you slow down, your rotors could be signaling trouble. …
  2. Intermittent Screeching. …
  3. Blue Coloration. …
  4. Excessive Wear Over Time.

What causes a warped rotor?

The main cause of brake rotors warping is excessive braking at high speeds, which causes the rotors the heat up. When the rotors become too hot, the metal they are comprised of becomes soft and begins to warp, causing the rotors to malfunction.  Failed calipers, rust and corrosion all can cause stiffness and drag that can also heat up the rotor and compromise its longevity.

What kind of noise does a bad rotor make?

Warped rotors can cause a squeaking noise when the brakes are applied. They can also make a scraping or grinding sound when they’re warped and worn down. The squealing noise, however, can also be made by brake pads that are worn out.

Why does my car shake after changing the brake pads and rotors?

Subtle vibrations in the beginning of a brake job will work themselves out during a break-in period.  Excessive vibration could be a defective rotor that could have been damaged on its route to your vehicle.  If it’s not subtle, return to the shop for an inspection.  We will not just replace one rotor, if a defect is found, we will re-do all pads and both rotors associated with the warpage.

Why does my car sound like it's dragging something when I brake?

You may have consumed all the friction materials and are literally stopping with the metal backing of the pad.  This can be short-live, you will need immediate service and better future inspections of your vehicles condition to avoid these situations.  Another possibility, you could have a brake caliper that has either seized or not completely released when you took your foot off the brake pedal.

Why does my car squeak when I drive but stop when I brake?

When your brakes squeal continuously as you drive along the road, but the squealing stops when you press the brake pedal, the most likely cause is the brake wear indicator touching the rotor’s surface.  It’s designed to make you aware of your needs prior to wearing out the friction material.  Note: a dragging caliper can suppress this noise and you can start grinding without any warning.  Caliper failure is highest at weather changes.

Why is my brake pedal going to the floor?

One of the most common reasons for a pedal going to the floor would be an issue with the brake fluid. It can leak out of a caliper seal, brake hose, line or the master cylinder.  This could also be an internal leak, where the brake fluid is by-passing the seals withing the body of the master.  Your fluid being low or air in the brake lines will prevent the fluid from extending the caliper pistons or wheel cylinders with the force needed to remove the space between the friction, resulting in a spongy pedal or no pedal at all.

A bad brake booster is another common cause for a brake pedal malfunction, but this is related to a hard pedal from the loss of vacuum, essentially giving you manual braking.

How do I get better brakes?

This applies mostly to Hi-Performance applications and large custom wheels that are not stock.  The power needed for these modifications can vary from race care to classic.  Vehicle Masters is ready to upgrade you to a Big Brake system from any brand.  Brembo, Baer, Dynatrac, Power Stop, Stoptech and, Wilwood, to name a few. 

Getting to the point, there are four ways to improve brake torque:

  1. Increase disc radius. Larger discs will allow for more brake torque as the brake pad will apply pressure at a larger radius, allowing for a higher moment. …
  2. Increase caliper piston area. …
  3. Line pressure. …
  4. Friction coefficient between the pad and rotor.


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6012 W. 159th Street
Oak Forest, IL 60452


Call us for our brake specials! We offer competitive pricing for new customer brake and rotor services.