Brake Job Rip-Off

brakes
audi
a6
quattro

#1

Since my husband died in 2005, I have been taken advantage of by repairmen of all types more times than I can count. I’m a very hard-headed woman, and knew how to stand up for myself even before he died. However, I admit I am at a mechanical disadvantage, especially when it comes to cars. I do a lot of research, and depend on the assistance of relatives and friends when needed. Last year, I purchased a 2001 Audi Quattro TT A6 wagon. It had less than 100,000 miles on it, only 2 owners, and the maintenance records are very detailed. All work was performed at the same dealer where it was originally purchased in Denver. I took a trusted male friend with me when I made the purchase. I paid $7500 cash for the car.

Almost immediately, I had to replace the entire front suspension, which cost almost $1500. A few months later, it needed a serpentine belt, rear brakes, and a tie rod on the front passenger side. Despite the alignment I had done after the front suspension work, I had abnormal wear on one of my front tires, but the mechanic insists I did not get a proper alignment done.

Back to the brakes… I took the car to a VW dealer on May 3rd, 2011, who said it needed front and rear brakes and rotors. It was squeaking a little, but not shuddering or braking badly. They also suggested several other repairs totaling half the value of the car. I’d just had the oil changed at the Audi dealer two months earlier, who said it was “pristine” for its age.

So I took it back to the German Car Mechanic who had done the front suspension work for a brake inspection and second opinion. He told me the front brakes looked “brand new.” This was on May 4th. The rear brakes needed to be replaced (which resolved the squeaking immediately), and the serpentine belt and tie rod (front passenger side) needed replacing. Silly me thought that would have been done when he did the front suspension work last fall…

So that cost approximately $700. I left town for a trip to my niece’s wedding–all flat Interstate driving–and back. By the time I returned home, I noticed a distinct shuddering every time I pressed on my brakes. I also noticed some uneven wear on the front passenger tire (same side the tie rod was replaced).

So I took the car back to the same place that replaced those rear brakes on May 4th who said my front brakes looked “brand new.” He said, “Your front rotors are warped.”

Excuse me? How can they be warped when you just looked at my brakes and said they were “brand new” six weeks ago?

I heard a song and dance about riding the brake (I drive with one foot and never ride my brake) and mountain driving (my trip was all flat-land through Kansas on the Interstate), etc. Blah, blah, blah. And I needed an alignment bad. So I forked over another $243 and left with my car pulling hard to the right after they rotated the tires, replaced the brakes and did an alignment.

I now have approximately $10,000 into this car I purchased 9 months ago for $7500. It was a great buy at $7500. Not so much now…

I think my German Car Mechanic is taking advantage of the “little widow.” So does my gentleman friend. What do you think? And shouldn’t they have looked at the front rotors when I took the car in to have the brakes inspected on May 4th?!?!?!? He said they can’t “see” the rotors, and the car wasn’t “shuddering” then, so I must have overheated the brakes.

Driving on the Interstate? I don’t think so…

What do you think?

I smell a rat.

Thanks.

~Deb


#2

The Audi A6 is an expensive car to maintain, especially when it starts to accumulate some miles. $7,500 may have seemed like a good deal at the time, but I suggest it was just the tip of the iceberg, and you’re now learning what it costs to keep one of these cars on the road. The front suspension on these cars is very complex and has a reputation for needing expensive repairs.

You’re complicating matters by taking the car to more than one mechanic, which leaves you open to finger pointing. If you stick with one mechanic there’s only one to blame.

Brake rotors can look great and be warped six weeks later, or one week later for that matter. They’re fine until they warp, then they’re warped.

If you plan to keep this car you’re going to have to find a mechanic you trust, then stick with him or her and be prepared to write some large checks, because that’s what it takes to own an aging Audi.

If you think this German car mechanic is taking advantage of you, find another mechanic, but you really should try to find one who knows Audis.


#3

I always take complaints from someone who states they have been ripped off by the entire world with more than a grain of salt.

You bought an 11 year old, high end, high mileage car that is expensive to maintain. You state you bought the car for cash and immediately had to replace the front suspension. (not defined)
A pre-purchase inspection should have revealed any problems and no way on Earth would I give 7500 dollars for a vehicle like this.

As to the 6 weeks on the brake scenario, yes it is quite possible for brakes to warp in that length of time; and that’s assuming the brakes are even the cause of the shudder.
Any looseness in one suspension component, loose wheel bearing, and in some cases even an badly worn tire can mimic a brake problem.

So where is the timing belt issue in all of this? If that has not been done, and verified, then you’re facing yet another major expense that cannot be delayed.


#4

I think OK4450 summed it up nicely.

The only thing I’d add, and it’s really only emphasizing a point he made, is that when buying a used car it is critical to (a) check some consumer reference magazines to see if it’s a vehicle that has a history of aging well, and (b,c,d,&e) get the car thoroughly checked by a trusted shop before buying. And get a detailed written report. There’s a shole lot that can be seen from under the car, and a whole lot that can be found by a knowledgable mechanic, than a friend coming with you is likely to see. Even a mechanic will reserve judgement until he/she gets a chance to do a test drive and get the vehicle up on a rack.

One more note: cars don’t get more reliable as they age, they get less reliable. A car’s reliability history is a good predictor of its future. You might want to consider writing this one off as a very expensive education in used car buying and move on to a better vehicle. This one won;t get cheaper as it ages, it’ll get more expensive. Get a Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers Guide at the local bookstore, search among those that have good track records, and get whatever you find checked out thoroughly before signing anything.

Sincere best.


#5

Thank you very much for your feedback. I appreciate the frank comments.

The timing chain has already been replaced–just prior to my purchase. I have those records. I think the suspension is all new now, too–at least the front. As I said, that’s all pretty foreign to me, which is why I asked in the first place.

I did look at the maintenance records and the Blue Book value before purchasing the car.

The reason I took it to a different mechanic is because I’d like to find one closer. Trust is more important than convenience, though.

Thanks. Your feedback on the brakes is particularly useful. However, I’m obviously not happy to hear it’s an expensive car to maintain. It is what it is, of course…

~Deb


#6

I recommend your next car be just about anything EXCEPT European.


#7

I’m going to try to hold out for a UAW made auto that is all electric AND reliable. Do you think there will be such a beast in our lifetime? Probably a topic for another forum…


#8

There are a couple of all-electric American made cars, Tesla and Fisker, but neither is affordable for the working class.

There may be an affordable electtric in the near future, but it’s unliekely to be UAW made. Chances are that it’ll be from China or perhaps India. Japan and Korea are also possibilities.


#9

UAW-made, all-electric, and reliable? You’re going to have to wait a while, I’m afraid.

I’m sure the Audi is a very nice car to drive, and I didn’t mean to be too harsh, it’s just that I know what it costs to keep one, and it’s enough to keep me from buying one.

If you’re willing to spend what it takes you’ll have the pleasure of driving a beautiful, comfortable, fun-to-drive automobile. In a way I envy you. The A6 is a gorgeous car, and I like a station wagons, or “Avant,” as Audi calls it.

Where does the “TT” come from? The “TT” is a small Audi sports car. You have an Audi A6 Avant.

I hope you find a mechanic you can trust and work with, and that you will enjoy your Audi for many years.

Or at least until there’s a UAW-made, all-electric, reliable car for sale in the US.

Good luck.


#10

My guess is when the front brakes were done (by a previous owner) recently (since the pads look like new) either the rotors were resurfaced and were cut too much and are now thin, or the rotors were replaced with inferior rotors. Either way could cause the rotors to warp. Otherwise most of the parts you are talking about, front suspension, are pretty much in line with the age and miles on the car.

A new Audi A6 wagon is about a $50K car. When you buy used some money must be spent on “rebuilding and restoring” parts that wear out with miles driven.


#11

The owner’s manual–and the ad to which I responded–said Champagne Audi Quattro A6 AWD Avant TT. This car has the “tetronic” (sic) transmission. I assumed the TT was for that. No…? I’ve used it once. :slight_smile: It is fun to drive. It’s a nice car. Interstate speed limits in Colorado are 75, and it’s really nice there. I live in a small mountain suburb, so all my errands in the city require highway driving. The AWD is a requirement at 7500 feet in the snow, and the comfy highway ride is an extra perk.

If I can afford the maintenance costs.

Thanks for all the feedback.

UncleTurbo, your explanation of the brake situation makes more sense than anything. A comment was made about “after market” pads being on the front, which makes me wonder if something was done–or hidden–on the rotors by the previous owner.

Buyer beware…

The interior leather, etc., premium Bose sound system, is all pristine on this car. There’s one small parking lot ding on the exterior. It’s really in remarkable condition. I hope the maintenance costs are more “routine” henceforth.

Thanks.

~Deb


#12

If the brake rotors are warped and this is the cause of any shudder there should be no guesswork in determining this. That’s what a dial indicator and micrometers are for.
Unfortunately, many shops “assume” a brake shudder is actually caused by the brakes themselves and follow through with that repair.

Another point about brake jobs. If a brake rotor is machined it should be thoroughly cleaned after cutting and before installing it. If the rotors are replaced with new ones they should also be thoroughly cleaned as new rotors often have a rust preventative substance on them. Sometimes this substance is visible and sometimes it’s not. Failure to clean the rotors may cause the brake pads to pick up this substance and embed it in the pads. In turn, this can end up causing various problems including shudders.

A big plus is the cam timing components have been replaced so that’s a big expense you won’t have to face for a number of years and miles.

I would advise that if you have any questions about your car feel free to post before having any work done and get other opinions. While it’s not always easy to diagnose a problem over the net without car in hand we may at least be able to tell if things are going in the right direction as to any diagnosis, suggested repairs, and prices.


#13

Audi automobiles belong to the “Diva” class. They are high maintenance and expensive to repair but some people seem to revel in vicarious pleasure lavishing TLC on their rides. But as these cars age second and subsequent owners usually find the slope of the cost curve to be overwhelming.


#14

as for me a former mech. and shop owner VW and Audi are the same thing and very expensive to maintain and they have “planned obsolescence” Rember what VW stands for Virtually Worthless


#15

All cars have planned obsolescence. That is not proprietary to VW and Audi.

While attending a Subaru service school some years back the instructor stated as such during one of the sessions.
He did not use the phrase “planned obsolescence” but he did state that Subaru was going to “revamp their designs” roughly every 5 years or so and at the time he stated this Subaru was going to consider anything over 4 years old “obsolete”.

What surprised me was the fact that he stated it publicly.


#16

I won’t call it planned obsolescence. Time marches on and new technologies, new designs, new materials, new regulations, competition, and market trends all force car manufacturers to revise car models and their lineup every few years. A new version of a Honda Civic is hot for awhile and “old news” in the marketplace for small economic cars in 5 years. If Honda didn’t revise the Civic the competition would surpass it in style, efficiency, features, and most important sales. Same with any model.

Currently the big thing is electronics and fancier displays on the dashboards and improved interior designs. You have to redesign a whole dash to make more room for the larger display screens that these systems demand. Folks might make their decision on which car to buy based on a 9" over a 6" screen in the dash.

I will say some mfgr’s seem to use higher quality parts that hold up longer, but that’s not planned obsolescence as much as quality standards and/or choosing cheaper over more expensive more durable parts.


#17

The late 20th Century became the disposable age. Everything we used had planned obsolescence, and–sadly–many things still do. Electronics are even worse than automobiles. How many printers have we all gone through during this time compared to cars?

I bought the Audi because I thought they were well built, reliable cars. My uncle in Kansas is an Audi mechanic, now retired. All he’s ever owned are Audis. He and his wife both still drive old Audis. Of course, he can fix them himself. My late husband and I purchased a 1985 VW Golf brand new, and the only thing that ever went out on it was the heater coil, which was a factory recall. We put 350,000 miles on it before he “sold” it to a young Airman for $1.00 in 1997. I ran into that Airman–now an NCO–at my husband’s Memorial Service in 2005. He said, “I still drive that car to work.”

Obsolescence?

Maybe the Audi is a Diva, though my daughter has decided this car is male. She’s named him Lion King. She names all our cars.

However, repairs and/or parts and/or service being expensive does not equate with a lack of reliability. Expensive to maintain? Perhaps. Unreliable…? I think I’d rather take my chances with a 2001 Audi than a 2001 Ford Taurus…

Thanks.

~Deb