Break Pads Suddenly Wore Out

I drive a 1998 Ford Escort with ~60,000 miles.

In mid May, I brought my car for an oil change and to look at my squeaky shocks before I went on a 3,000 mile road trip. Ended up getting them all replaced. I also asked the mechanic to see why my parking brake light was always on and they told me it was just faulty wiring, but didn’t do anything to fix it.

So I’m due for another oil change today and wait for my car in the next door Starbucks. Once my car is ready, I went to run some errands. I braked to pull into a parking lot and I could literally something grinding on the rotor, metal to metal. It sounded like I was dragging metal beneath my car. I am very confused because there have been no warning signs.

Just picked up the car and they replaced both rotors. They gave me a $75 dollar off coupon because in May they apparently only tested the switch for my parking brake and nothing else. This is the part that seems weird to me.

I was hoping someone could explain to me how my brake pads could wear out without warning. Obviously, my car is old and things do need replacing sometimes, but the timing feels off. Should the mechanic have checked the fluids and front brakes when I asked about the parking brake light? Could this have caused my brake pads to wear and cause the rotor damage?

Sneak Edit: Car also goes through coolant pretty quickly. Probably not related, but the shop did know of this as well.

Your car has front disc and rear drum brakes. The parking brake light could have come on because your rear shoes have worn enough that your parking brake needed adjusting. But that had nothing to do with your front rotors. Seems to me to be a foolish businessman to not take the opportunity to check the brakes all aroung and not get the profit from work the customer really needs.
You should get your rear brakes checked.
Obviously your disappearing coolany has nothing to do with your brakes.

The red brake warning light came on BECAUSE the brake fluid level was low in the reservoir

The brake fluid level was low BECAUSE your brakes were worn

The “mechanic” who blamed it on “faulty wiring” is a 100% moron

He’s probably working at that place, and not somebody where he would get paid more, BECAUSE he’s a 100% moron

If he weren’t a 100% moron, he would know that the red brake warning light also comes on due to low brake fluid level, and or brake pressure differential. That could be due to a ruptured brake line, for instance.

The parking brake switch is only 1 reason for that red brake warning light to be lit

if you told this “mechanic” that you’re going on a 3000 mile trip, and he sees the red brake warning light, and does no further “diagnosis” besides blaming it on “faulty wiring” he has really earned the title of 100% moron


He’s not only a moron, but he’s a costly moron

Meaning . . . in may, your brake pads and/or shoes were obviously quite worn. The rotors and drums also were probably worn, but they may have been serviceable

Now, however, because of this moron’s actions, or lack thereof, to be more accurate, you’ve worn the brakes down to the backing plates. And your rotors and/or drums are now damaged. A good mechanic may be able to save them, with a few passes on the brake lathe. A lot depends on his skill, and how deep the grooves are. But that may not have been necessary, if this moron had actually looked at the brakes

Yup . . . he cost you more money in the end. that’s why I said “costly moron”


People like this moron give my profession a bad name

Can you tell I’m not happy about it?


Thanks for the responses.

I feel like a 100% moron because I am young, inexperienced, and a first time car owner. I should have done research myself in order to not get swindled. I came across this thread and now I understand what was going on. I am pretty disgruntled because I never would have gone on a road trip if I had any inkling that something was wrong.

In my defense though, I did bring the car in when the light turned on. I was also under the assumption that they did do a full brake check back in May until this morning when they told me otherwise. But since they didn’t check the brakes, it’s not guaranteed and I have to pay. Even though they had it on record that I asked them to check the light on the car.

I’ll write some scathing reviews, take my business elsewhere, and try to learn more about cars.


Yes, you would be wise to learn about cars, starting with the one you have

Buy a Chilton or Haynes manual, they’re pretty cheap and parts stores usually have books for the more common models.

You could slowly start buying some tools, and start doing some of the work yourself

I concur w/the above comments, the shop should have strongly discouraged driving the car with the “brake” light on. This is true even if they tested the parking brake switch and determined with 100% certainty it was misadjusted or defective, stuck in the always on position – which indeed would cause the “brake” light to be on all time.

But here’s the problem – if the brake light is on all the time, there’s no way for the driver to know if the main brake system itself fails, and needs immediate service for safety reasons. That would endanger the driver, the occupants of the car, and occupants of all the other cars on the same road.

But it is possible the light was on b/c the switch was bad. And as mentioned above, the metallic sound the OP heard, if it originated from the front rotors and pads, that probably wouldn’t be related to the parking brake.

"I feel like a 100% moron because I am young, inexperienced, and a first time car owner. " - OP

You, my friend are NOT the moron. You did exactly the correct things. You relied on the expertise of a professional mechanic to ensure that your car was safe. I urge you, please don’t carry any blame whatsoever. You had no way of knowing the mechanic was too lazy to do his job properly.

Sure, it’s always nice to know something about cars. But it should not need to be necessary. No more than I should have to take law courses before hiring a lawyer, or I should have to take architecture courses before hiring and architect to design a house for me. I urge you, do NOT feel any remorse for not having tried to learn about cars before going to a mechanic.

However, if you keep going back to the same mechanic I may retract my statements. Find a new shop. Ask all your friend’s neighbors, acquaintances, coworkers, and family members who they use. One name just might pop up with good recommendations.

If this is a “chain shop” in Midas, pep boys, Sears, etc., start looking for a new shop to do your work.
Many of these places have no real professional mechanics, just a bunch of people that know how to turn a wrench…which way…that’s another story!!!

The mechanic’s failure to properly diagnose your problem…knowing you’d be traveling 3000 miles…is inexcusable. This failure could have caused you to lose all braking while on your trip.

Quote; I feel like a 100% moron because I am young, inexperienced, and a first time car owner.

You are not a Moron, at least you want to learn and took the time to research and find this board. The mechanic, he’s a the Moron Prince!!!

Ask family, friends, co-workers who they use for their auto repairs.

I always say , ask 50 people and keep a tally, when you hear a name many times…that’s the place to go.


@db4690 - Thank you again for the concern and resources! In May they changed my tires, replaced my shocks, and did a courtesy check, so I think they really should have caught this brake before I left, especially when I expressed concern. Tonight they ended up just replacing the disc pad and the both rotors. Rear shoes were apparently fine, but I don’t really trust this shop anymore. Also don’t have a lot of money for a second opinion, but I will try those resources. At least I learned something from this ordeal.

@GeorgeSanJose " - The front brake pads were metal on metal. They replaced the disc pad, both the left and the right rotors, and looked at the rear brakes. I originally mentioned the parking brake in May because I thought the problem could be the switch, but I also said “brake fluid” in the same sentence, so I assumed they would check it all out. Only being charged for a courtesy check should have been a clue, I guess.

@Yosemite @“the same mountainbike” - I do a lot of remote driving for work and my road trip was in the mountains, so I’m cringing just thinking about my brakes giving out then. I did go to the same place to fix the brakes tonight only because it was the closest shop and I didn’t want to have to pay to tow my car elsewhere. But I am never returning again and I am going to make sure no friends or family ever go to this shop as well.

People like this moron give my profession a bad name

Can you tell I’m not happy about it?

Tell us what you really think.

The guy may not be a Moron…but a smart thief. There are several with 10 miles of where I live.

If this place was next to a Starbucks, I also assume it was a quick-lube or chain place. Although not all of those are bad in general, the odds are that you’ll get better care at a local independent mechanic that others recommend.

As for the disappearing coolant, you really should get that diagnosed quickly. If your engine is overheating due to this or if the oil looks like a chocolate milkshake instead of normal oil (which you should check as soon as you read this), then you’re causing engine damage by driving it.

This is true…the “mechanic” shouldve known what causes that light to illuminate and DB was correct…there are only 2 things that will cause it… Low brake fluid and the parking brake being left on are basically it. I cant think of any others.

While it seemed they looked at the front brakes…which are relatively easy to replace Methinks the “mechanic” didnt want to get involved in those pesky brake shoes in the back. I know guys that will IMMEDIATELY pass on doing rear shoes…why? I have no idea…all cars used to have them. They may seem odd or complex to inexperienced “mechanics”. Which is strange to me as these were the first type of brake system…and they used to be cable operated to boot.

I have friends n family who immediately turn any brake shoe operation or maintenance to me. They arent too bad really…simple actually…guys just dont like big springs I think.

This shop should have checked those rear shoes for certain…this was the cause of your issue.


Can you tell I'm not happy about it?

I think you should remember that you’re among friends here and don’t have to hold back. Tell us how you really feel. :wink:

For what it’s worth, I agree. The mechanic is a moron.


Yes…that so-called “mechanic” is a moron.

I had 85k on my brakes, oil change (indie) had brakes ok on the checklist. I forget why but took the car to my brake guys. Outer pads were fine, but inner pads within a hair of gone. Calipers and everything checked out. Maybe inner pads are assumed to wear the same as outer, or hard to see, I do not know, but would not jump to the moron conclusion.
So after another 65k had the brakes redone, as braking was very soft, pads okay but rotors severely pitted.


Sorry, but I’m sticking to my moron conclusion

Red brake warning lamp was on

OP told 'mechanic" they’re worried about the brakes, because they’re going on a 3000 mile trip

OP is sold tires and shocks all around

yet “mechanic” does NOT check the brakes . . . and all 4 corners are exposed, to do shocks and tires

the guy is a MORON

You can easily look at outer AND inner brake pads when the tires are removed

Even if the moron didn’t want to pull a drum, many drum backing plates have an inspection window, which is usually covered up with a rubber plug

Some drums don’t have this, but I’d venture to guess 1/2 or more have it

The guy gets no pass in my book. No consideration whatsovever

Maybe I should be a nice guy and cut people some slack. But not in this situation