REPAIRING MY CAR > Brake Failure

Brake Failure

There is not more important system on a car than the brakes

Are My Brakes Bad….Because My Car Won’t Stop

Do you know the worst feeling you can get while driving a car? Well let me tell you, it’s when your car won’t stop. Don’t ever ignore a brake problem – it can lead to serious injury and damage. I did once and rear-ended a car. Yikes.

I am going to discuss a brake issue that comes up quite often, using the experience I had with my own Volkswagen mini van. I will discuss my experience having car brake repairs done at a dealership and the potential savings that may be had by using an independent repair facility.

In 2007 I purchased a new Volkswagen Vanagon. For 10,000 miles it was trouble free. One day while driving around town I noticed a loud squeaking sound coming from the front brakes. I had heard it before and knew right away that it was an issue with the disc brake pads. Since it was so new I decided to take it back to the dealer. I normally get about 40K to 50K miles out of a set of brake pads. What’s up?

Head to the dealer for car brakes – stay on your toes

I made my appointment and dropped my van off at the dealership. After inspecting it the service advisor told me I needed to have the entire brake system replaced – brake discs/rotors, calipers and pads on all four wheels. He quoted me $1800 for complete brake replacement. His seemed way too high – actually outrageous in my humble opinion. I explained that this much excessive brake failure should be covered under the warranty and he said no because it was “normal” wear and tear. Now believe me, I don’t drive like a race car driver. It was a family van – I was driving my kids around in it. Such normal use couldn’t possibly have caused so much damage.

I said it was just too expensive and I didn’t believe it needed the whole system replaced. He said they would re- assemble the system and only charge me $300 for diagnosing the problem. I blew my lid. I refused to pay for an inspection charge since they never told me up front about it. Eventually they agreed and I got my car out at no charge. How many folks get suckered into paying for this type of thing having not been told in advance? It makes me wonder just how many people say yes to this type of unneeded repair.

Double check with an independent mechanic for brake repairs

Since the only symptom the van exhibited was a squeak and not any pulsations or pulling when the brakes were applied I felt confident it was just the brake pads. Armed with this, I took the van to my favorite top AAA rated independent repair shop. They took a test drive and a quick look and fully agreed it was just the pads. And the problem was only on the front brakes – not all four. To be on the safe side they turned the rotors to be sure they were flat and not warped, which ensures smooth braking without any pulsations or vibrations in the steering wheel. They then installed a set of new brake pads. The total price for these repairs came to about $300. Wow, I could live with that.

Good Car Brakes Are Essential For Safety

Keep in mind that the brake system in your vehicle is extremely important to safety. In some cases depending on the age and wear on the brake system a complete brake job may need to be done. It is always best to seek professional advice on such a crucial system. A faulty brake system could lead to a dangerous driving situation and serious injury. With that being said you need as much information as possible.

Once again let the buyer beware. A thorough test drive and inspection by a trained mechanic at a highly reputable repair shop can save on the pocket book. It can also identify potentially serious issues with your car. Remember how much money it can save you when you do some research. Never ignore safety issues with your car.

2 comments on “Brake Failure

  1. Recently, the ABS light on my car came on. It seems to have something to do with the anti-lock brake system, but my brakes aren’t squeaking. I also have a Volkswagen although it is a Jetta. I should probably go get that checked, huh?

    • Hello Wilma! When an ABS light comes on it generally means that the system is not working – not squeaky brake pads. I have found that this is often a case where the ABS module has gone bad. This can be a little expensive to fix. I have talked to a couple of mechanics about this over the years. They have said that although the ABS system is not working that the brake system is. You just won’t have as much skid protection or control during a sudden stop. In this case I would call around for some general prices. In my now lazy years I use a shop here in West Seattle called Dere Automotive. They are on 35th and Roxburry. These guys have come in below the dealer price on quite a few jobs for me…all with lower prices and excellent results. Brakes are arguably the most important system of a car…get it checked asap.

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