Brake Repairs--Acura

BTW–Even the dealer tells me Honda parts work fine.

So, assuming they are right and the caliper must be replaced because it is hanging up (not always releasing)–

1. what should this cost?

2. do the pads really have to be replaced, too? (4/32 bad side 9/32 other side)

3. AND, a question I’ve always wondered about–must/should rotors be re-surfaced every time pads are changed? (If you do that, before long you’ll be buying new rotors–VERY expensive!!

So, I’ve just been quoted $1200–what a way to ruin my weekend! Looking for an alternative–do less of a job. (They want to do everything to 2 calipers & 4 sets of pads/rotors–so this 10 yr old car will be new. Well, its brakes will be.

It’s not unusual for a 10 year old car to need all these things. When you bought the Acura, I’m sure you were aware that upscale cars cost more to repair. If that was a Mercedes E or S class, the quote would be closer to $4000.

You should get another professional opinion, but not from a dealer.
For comparison, a colleague had an $800 brake job done on a 5 year old Dodge minivan. And that was 8 years ago.

Whatever you do, get the job done properly. It’s suicidal to compromise on a brake job.

As I mentioned, the dealer said they would use Honda parts. (I understand that Acura is a division of Honda Motor Car Co.)

So this is apparently not to cost more than it would if it were a Honda–except perhaps via the hourly labor rate.

The real question for me is whether to accept their recommendation that I make each part involved operate as if brand new.

Should rotors be re-surfaced each time pads are changed? That will assure freedom from noise and maybe be a bit silkier. But after two or if you are lucky three times, they are too thin and you need new rotors. That costs a lot.

Honda rotors are very beefy, they have to be because they are so difficult to replace. They usually resurface them on the car on Honda’s.

From your description, it looks like your caliper bushings froze. They are easy to repair, the caliper does not need to be replaced, but if your caliper bushings froze, I suspect that you may also have other problems so maybe replacing them is a good idea.

If the caliper bushing froze, that rotor is ruined and has to be replaced. Generally its a good idea to replace both at the same time. The pads have to be changed too, all of them.

I don’t know if $1200 is a fair price or not. It seems a little high to me, but if the dealer is in a high cost area, it may be justified. Honda parts are not cheap, but they are usually worth the cost. The calipers aren’t too difficult to replace but those rotors are. the steering knuckle has to be removed and separated into its two halves. While you are this far into it, you might as well replace the wheel bearings. Was that included in the price?

Anyway, its a lot of work but if the $1200 includes the wheel bearings, it may be an OK price. If not, get a quote to include the wheel bearings. They should not charge you the full labor cost to replace the wheel bearings as most of that labor is absorbed in the rotors.

You said 4 sets of pads and rotors, Does this mean they are doing the rears too? If so, the $1200 sounds better, but do you really need the rears? They could be done later as there is no duplicated labor. They are totally separate.

Thank You, Keith,

for your careful and detailed advice. I note a few facts I did not say earlier:

The dealer had the car for several hours today and gave it back because they do not have the parts. So I get some more flexibility.

They say that they have thoroughly inspected & one rear caliper has “seized-up”, and worn the pads down to 4/32. (Other side–they replaced all rear brakes 11,000 miles ago** and, yes, they turned the rotors while on the car at that time) is 9/32). They say pads must be replaced on both sides. I do not understand why throw away the 9/32 ones.

This wheel was very hot to the touch last night after a drive on turnpike. (That’s why I went in today.) So this makes some sense.

But I’d note that when car was state inspected 2 (TWO!!) weeks ago–at a place where they let me watch–mechanic & I noticed this wheel turned only with difficulty. He said the emergency brake (which uses shoes on a drum inboard of the rotor) was not releasing, probably due to my never using it & parking outside–rust, etc. So he worked it back and forth a few times, told me to do so once in a while. It turned more freely & passed inspection.

So dealer’s diagnosis is at odds with what inspection mechanic & I saw recently.

Anyway, they are at $600+ for that. (It is not mainly the price I’m doubting here–but what work is really needed. Once I’m sure of that I can ask an independent mechanic his price.)

THEN, dealer then said one front caliper is “bad”–didn’t say why. And they pointed out that there is SOME pulsation when brake hard. That’s true. But it never bothered me much.

So they say they want to replace that caliper, too–and all front pads. (Front pads they say are 4/32 --2/32 is legal. I am retired; I drive 5,000 miles per year, mostly on turnpike. So those pads might last me 2 or 3 years–by which time car might not.

And, they want another $600+ for the front 1 caliper + 4 pads. Oh, and turning all rotors.

Sounds to me like a full employment program for them. (They are NEVER busy lately. I can drive in anytime and they will do most any work, without appointment. Today they would have wanted to, but could not get the parts; I just drove in.)

They did NOT say that any rotor needs replacement. They do NOT suggest replacing pairs of calipers–just the one rear (hot wheel) and one front (pulsing when brake hard at high speed). They did NOT mention any bearing.

What do you think??

I want to do what is needed for safety, and not damage anything, but the minor pulsation in front brake seems unimportant. Am I right?

I welcome advice from anyone who knows about all this. Thank you.

**Any chance there’s a 12,000 mile warranty on the complete rear brake job 11,000 miles and 23 months ago???

A brake pulsation is normally caused by the rears and a shudder by the fronts. Considering you have a seized rear caliper that could be the cause of the pulsation.

As to what is or is not needed, you’re looking at it from the perspective of money weighed against doing a proper job.
No shop should EVER replace pads or perform a rotor service (replacment or machining) on one side only. It is not only the entirely wrong thing to do, it’s also a liability issue.
If the shop does one side and a problem develops later the finger will be pointed at the shop.

The pads are getting dangerously low at 1/8" thick and there is no way of knowing how long that remaining 1/8" will last. Once thin enough it’s possible for a pad to come clean out of the yoke. That would be a bit unnerving to lose brakes completely during a panic stop.

You’re wanting them to piecemeal a brake job and there is no way any shop should consent to this. If the customer insists on it then said customer should be shown the door.

I don’t mean to sound too harsh on this but there’s a proper, safe way of doing things and a back yard, cobbled together method. With brakes you should adhere to the former and having a price you don’t like does not mean they’re gouging you at all.
If someone wants to perform an improper brake job on their own car that’s one thing, but a shop should not be expected to nor should they.

Okay, okay–only asking. So that’s a NO!

But must rotors always be machined?

Second, maybe I used wrong word but call it a “shudder” if you like. Dealer says it is from the front. (Feels that way, too.)
My question re that is–Is it a safety issue? Or can I wait if it does not bother me?

So those are my two questions–

      ----machine rotors every time change pads? 

      ----NEED to do front NOW just to quiet shudder?

Yes, you need new pads on at least two brakes (nobody any good would ever do just one), the rotors either turned (if possible) or replaced, and at least one caliper…more likely two.

You want to do “less of a job” on your brakes to save money? And if you have to slam on your brakes because a young child runs out from behind a car and instead of stopping you kill him or slam into a tree, will it have been worth it???

Price shop, by all means, and do “less of a job” when it comes tune up time if you’d like, but please do not take shortcuts with your brakes.

I agree with the prior replies. I will add this. Honda/Acura, and all other dealers tend to consider any repair to mean to return to new condition. Independent mechanics tend to follow the idea that a repair means returning to a fully serviceable condition using the most economic procedure. The independent will almost always be less expensive and provide a final product that is 98% as good as new for a good deal less money with no loss of safety.

Don’t skimp on brakes. Rotors generally need to be replaced or resurfaced. You don’t want to resurface too thin as that can turn into a safety issue. New rotors are a lot cheaper than an accident.

Frankly when I have brakes done I generally have new rotors as must new car rotors are thinner (lighter) than on older cars and when you take all things into consideration, it is cheaper in the long run to just replace them.

Did you know what what might be badged a Honda in the US may be an Acura in another country (or the other way around) The names are part of the marketing game not the manufacturing.

Yes, rotors should always be machined or replaced with a brake job. It’s the proper, recommended repair.
The only thing is to make sure that the rotors are never machined under the “minimum thickness” specification. Rotors are generally manufactured a bit thinner now than they used to be so if anyone is machining them several times this should be a bit suspect.

Most rotors have about .030 of metal to work with before they go under the minimum thickness spec.
Rotors can also be easily checked with a micrometer and a dial indicator to verify that they’re warped. It’s not a guessing game although many shops do guess at it and assume a brake shudder automatically means the brakes are at fault.
A loose wheel bearing or suspension component (ball joint, tie rod, tie rod end, etc.) can also cause a brake shudder.
Warped rotors are generally not a safety issue except in a very odd circumstance such a someone making a panic stop and having the brakes shudder so bad the driver could be startled or the car start wheel-hopping. (maybe on rain slick or icy roads)

If you want to determine if the shudder is front or rear, take the car out on a deserted smooth road. From about 45 MPH bring the car to a halt slowly with the park brake only. If the shudder is there, it’s the rear. If the shudder is gone, it’s the front.

(Regarding warped rotors, my Lincoln Mark still has the original rotors on it at the 245k miles mark. The rotors actually are about .065 thicker than the minimum specification so you can see where thicker metal is helpful in preventing rotor warpage, etc. They’re pretty beefy rotors and they’re finally starting to develop a bit of pulsation but this is not due to warpage but a parallelism issue instead.)

Hope some of that helps.

New information changes some things. I assumed you were talking about the front brakes. A stuck parking brake cable or linkage is a different thing.

When a caliper sticks, its due either the piston in the caliper seizing, something that rarely happens, or the caliper pins seize inside the caliper bushings, the usual reason. When the pins/bushings seize, one pad is held against the rotor all the time. It wears down this pad only and it wears down the rotor on this side. When this happens, a check of rotor wear with a micrometer may yield an inaccurate result due to asymmetric wear.

When the parking brake linkage seizes, both pads and the both sides of the rotor wear evenly. If the rotor passes the thickness measurement, then its ok to reuse, especially on a Honda. I have not replaced a rear rotor on a Honda/Acura so I don’t know how hard they are to do, the fronts are a bear for the 92-200? years.

Now having said all that, the Honda calipers to me have always been the most resistant to seizing. I’ve never seen one seize. The sticking parking brake linkage makes more sense to me. In light of that, I would say that you don’t need a new caliper on the rear, you need a new parking brake cable.

The parking brake cable has a rubber bellows on each end. For it to stick, the bellows must have torn and allowed the lubricant to leak out and contaminants to get in. At the very least have it inspected carefully.

I think you can put off the front brakes for awhile. If the pads are wearing evenly, the caliper is not sticking, at least not enough to cause a problem. When you do need new pads, you should have the caliper pins lubricated. I wouldn’t worry about a little pulsation, there are other causes for that besides warped rotors. If the steering wheel shakes violently during braking, that could be a more serious problem.

Pads come in sets for each axle. You can’t buy one pad at a time. You must do all four pads at each end of the car together (2 pads/wheel). Sometimes the pad composition is modified over time and that could cause a problem with uneven braking if you did them one side at a time. Calipers can be replaced one at a time, but often, what happens one one side will happen on the other pretty soon, unless there is a reason besides time/wear that is causing the problem.

So, my recommendation now is to have the parking brake linkage inspected carefully. Replace the pads and have the rotors inspected. If either rotor is near the limit, replace it. Hold off on the fronts but keep an eye on them.