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2009 Toyota Corolla - dealer saying I need new brake pads and rotors but the numbers seem very odd!

Hi all. My dealer recently told me that I need new brake pads and rotors x 4 for my car and something seems very amiss. I don’t know enough about cars to know for sure if there is something wrong with what I’m being told / what questions I should be asking.

I’ve looked back at the dates I’ve had servicing, the mileage, and the numbers for the brake pads (front/rear - I believe this is % of the pad left?). The basic data is:

May, 2010: 70/70, at 43,000 miles.

March, 2011: 40/50, at 63,000 miles.

August, 2011: 50/50, at 76,000 miles.

February 2012: 35/65, at 90,000 miles.

July, 2012: 5/10, at 101,000 miles.

These brake numbers look crazy to me - I could understand some variance but is a wear pattern like this possible? No change in drivers/habits/routes/nothing. No symptoms of any problems, no squealing thumping in the brakes or anything noticeable. Mileage is mainly a highway commute to work.

These numbers say that in 21 months and 47,000 miles the rear brake number was between 50 and 70 and then between February and July of this year in those 10,000 miles the brake pads basically vanished and oh ya I need new rotors too.

Possible? If not what can I say to my dealer - they obviously saw these numbers when they told me I needed to have new rotors and pads all around.

Thanks any help or suggestions would be appreciated!

the numbers for feb 2012 seem odd for the rear aand march and aug. for the front seem odd but the numbers should be getting smaller as mor miles and time goes by. with 101k miles and first brake job you got your money out of them. the rotors our at the point that they our not able to be machined and have to be replaced. is your brake pedel vibrating whem=n you step on it?

The tech’s just eyeball the brake pads and give a % left guess-timate. They do not take out calipers and measure. At 110K miles you did very well on your brake life.

Replacing rotors is optional if there is enough metal on the current rotors to true them up with resurfacing. Since there is a cost for resurfacing per rotor, new ones might make sense in your case if they last you another 100K+ miles.

My thought here is very similar to the previous posts, but with a small addition:

Getting to the root question of (basically) "Is it possible/likely for pads to drop so drastically in a short amount of time, espcially if they had previously lasted for so long?’ I can concede some likeliness, but is it possible? Sure. My thought is that if the rotors may have gotten chewed up or warped, they’ll eat into the pads much more quickly.

As a matter of fact, that’s exactly why my previous pad change came so quickly after the one before it. I didn’t pay much attention to the rotors (Shame on me, I know). So, when I started to get a bad grind, I knew the rotors would need to be changed. I peeked at the pads, and saw they would need it, too, even though I had replaced them not terribly long before.

When I took the caliper off, the inside of the rotor had been worn through to the heat vents (I don’t know the anatomy of a rotor, but you know what I mean by “heat vents.”) It’s a good thing I had relatively newer pads. They had a chance to get chewed up before the caliper did. Yikes!

Same thought here.
100K on original brakes is very good. You could do a ‘pad slap’, just replacing the pads but will not quite get the performance or ‘feel’ of resurfaced or new rotors.
To have them turned at a machine shop costs about $10 a piece in my area. You can get new ones often for about $50-ish. For them it makes sense to swap them because it is fast and they get to sell you new rotors at MSRP. Win-win for them.

If you brought it to an independent mechanic, he’d likely try to do the same because it is fast. He may allow you to buy your own rotors so you could save some money.
You could ask him to turn the rotors or offer to take the rotors yourself, get them turned and bring them back to him. That will save you the most money but the guy has to be willing to do that because your car will be taking in precious bay space while you’re gallivanting around to get the rotors turned.

Dealers often will just want to replace the parts.
Dealers are to wallets what Gallagher is to pumpkins.

RemcoW wrote:
Dealers often will just want to replace the parts.
Dealers are to wallets what Gallagher is to pumpkins

I am SO stealing that line!

Please do.

The wear percentages are subjective eyeball measurements done (undoubtedly) by different mechanics…You can’t expect precision here. The Service Departments goal is zero- come-backs which means you get all new parts all the time. That’s their insurance policy against come-backs and lawyers. You may or may not need new rotors but you are going to get them regardless…They will also want to flush your brake fluid and charge you for a brake hardware kit, all standard procedure and a good idea…

Since you’re getting these rotors replaced anyway, ask for the old rotors back so you can get them turned for next time you need a brake job. No doubt they are still decent enough to where they can be turned. Many mom&pop machine shops will be very happy to do that small job for you at a minimal cost and you’ll have perfectly good rotors for next time you need the brakes redone. Pack them in a plastic bag, seal it with duck tape so it doesn’t rust too badly.
Then, when the time comes to get your brakes redone again, take the turned ones with you and request they swap them in. Take the rotors that are on the car and get them turned, etc.
There will be no extra cost to do this because it takes maybe five minutes extra to put a rotor on if they are replacing the pads anyway.

Or maybe wait to get them turned until the week before the next time you’re ready to get your brakes redone. Still do it such that you can just hand the mechanic your freshly turned rotors with the point being that you save yourself a significant amount of cash and have perfectly operating brakes.

Dealers are to wallets what Gallagher is to pumpkins

That’s watermelons.

Echo on the eyeballing part. I too would recommend that you get new rotors, hardware and brake fluid flush, you’ll be good for another 100k, and that by the way is pretty remarkable for a Corolla. You might get some quotes from reputable independents and compare to the dealer quote. Make sure that they are all quoting the same job though. Don’t let someone leave off a service or parts to lower the quote.

Add to the above, re-grease the caliper bushings. Go with OEM spec ceramic pads too.