Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Am I being hosed by my Mechanic? "That's a Tuffy"

2002 Ford Focus Wagon ZTW with 124,000 miles on it. At 90,000 miles “ish”, I replaced front brakes (rotors and pads). At the time, mechanic told me that rear drums were also worn. Made it to about 120,000 miles before I got the rears done.

The day after I got the car back, and started driving to Florida (from Ohio), brakes started squealing BADLY at the end of stops (slow speeds). Very loud, annoying, and embarrassing. Took it back, and was told front brakes needed replaced. I’m no Mr. Goodwrench, but took their word for it. Got it back, and lo and behold, STILL Squealing, but not as badly. Took it back again, and they replaced rear shoes under warranty. STILL SQUEALING!! Wife brought it in this am, and guy told her that “sometimes, you can’t get rid of these things”. That doesn’t seem right Seems that new brakes, or even brakes that aren’t new, but don’t need replaced should be squealing at slow speed stops. Am I off base here? Should I just take it someplace new now? “Feels” like we’re getting jerked around, but I can’t prove it. Any information would be most helpful and appreciated. Car’s in the shop today, and I’m leaving for New England tomorrow.

Brake squeal can cam be due to a variety of things - worn or bent anti-rattle clips, lack of lubricant on the backs of pads (where required), missing teflon pads on the back of pads (where required), pads that don’t fit properly, and so on.

Since your problem started with the replacement of the rears, and it persisted past the initial few days, that narrows the suspects to the type of brake lining used and improper assembly. If the shop that you are using is limited to one brand of brake shoes, you may end up at a different shop.

Brakes are not complicated, but that does not mean that the mechanic knows what he is doing. I once dismantled a fresh rear drum brake job that came back to the national chain shop where I worked in college, and discovered that my co-worker had put both primary shoes on one side, and both secondary shoes on the other. On another occasion, I listened to the owner of a small independent shop explain to a customer how his brakes worked. His explanation was completely wrong, although the shop owner had 35 years of experience. It is tough to properly diagnose what you don’t understand.

The disposition for disc brakes to squeal is a draw back to them,some cases are harder than others to fix. Squealing disc brakes is still a big issue with BMW today (there are just some cars that resist your best efforts but eventualy you get it)

Some more info might help.
Is this squeal from the front or back?
Does this car have rear drums instead of discs?
Did they service the rear drums or rotors depending on which the car has?
Does the car have steel wheels instead of alloys?

I mention this because in certain cases distorted wheel rims can cause a brake squeal on vehicles equipped with drum brakes and steel rims.