Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Can 10 days of vacation and nonuse of car cause this much damage?

Can ten days of a car sitting in a carport with high humidity and moisture cause enough rust and pitting in brand new rotors as to cause washboard effect when braking, steering wheel vibration and ABS light to come on?

Repair shop that did the original job says the new rotors are rusted and pitted and then generally blame the 10 days and brake pads, saying they are “cheap.” They resurfaced these offending pads when rotors were replaced. Said there is 80% left on pads. They showed me the evidence of the rust and it did appear to be in shape of brake outline. TY.

Yup, it can.

I see nothing in the post that makes me suspect.

What was the code associated with the ABS light?. Do I get this right,the shop that did the brake job admitts they installed “cheap” brake pads? or just less expensive brake pads?

They did not install the pads. These were existing pads which they resurfaced.

Also, the ABS light just came on today. I don’t know what the assoc. code is yet.

You brought your car to a shop and told them you wanted new rotors installed but you wanted to use the existing pads? why did you do this? (I can think of my own reason but I would like to know yours).

No, they told me I needed new rotors and they recommended resurfacing of the brakes, maybe because there is 80% left (?) I probably would have balked had they suggested new brakes; however, now I’m not so sure because all this time I’ve also had (for about two years) a smelly burnt smell that NO mechanic has been able to isolate and I just read that it could be the brakes outgassing.

Since the ABS code has come on again after the brake work was done, it may be a cause unrelated to the original issues of pitted rotors with a negative image where the pads were.

At this point I’d ask what the year of the car is. If the calipers sat exposed to a badly corrosive environment and had some age on them it’s possible that the slides on a calliper have rusted, the caliper is sticking, and that would explain not only the ABS light but also that burnt smell that we now know you’ve been smelling for the last two years. If the ABS system does not detect via the wheel speed sensors that it’s affecting the wheel,that will trigger a fault light. If the caliper is not functioning properly this can happen.

Short version: I suspect you have a stuck calliper.

One thing for sure, the smell is definitely NOT the “brakes outgassing”. That’s not a characteristic of brake pads.

What problem caused you to make contact with a mechanic? We are not getting to the bottom of why you initally went to a mechanic.

It’s a 1996 nearing only 90,000 miles. Thanks, I appreciate it.

For the entire past two years, however, could the rotors qualify as “a badly corrosive environment”? Seems that my braking problem would have shown up earlier then.

Sure 10 days of non use in a humid area will cause enough rust on most rotors to cause problems.

There is always the question of how bad is bad and if just a few weeks or days of normal driving might have corrected the problem.

No, not unless failure of the caliper to clamp with normal pressure allowed pitting to develop. If the surfaces were then pitted and eroded all over when you returned and brought it to the shop, the condition coud have been masked by the overall corrosion.

If when doing the brake job the tech used a clamp to press the caliper pistons in (common practice) he could have not realized a caliper were sticky and not releasing properly, thus dragging.

The overwhelming majority of chronic smelly burnt smells are caused by a dragging brake pad, and that could account for your symptoms. Usually they’re not that tough to verify. Try jacking up each corner of the vehicle and turning the wheels by hand. If one feels like it’s dragging, you’ve found your problem.

When a car with disks brakes sits unused for a few days rust will show up on the calipers. This is totally normal. In humid conditions or if is a rainy period the rust will show up faster. In AZ where the air is very dry perhaps there will be no rust at all. Conditions do affect how fast the rust shows up, but it will happen eventually.

I’ve never seen a case so bad as to need a brake job. I have had to give my cars some extra gas to break the bond between the pads and the rotors a few times. Then you drive the car and the brakes make a grinding noise for a couple of stops. The brakes return to normal quickly and if they don’t take the car on the highway and at 35 or 40 mph apply some light pressure to the brake petal with your left foot while you maintain speed with your right foot on the gas. The will in effect “resurface” your rotors and brake pads just by using them.

Cars that have sat for years unused may have the pads completely “frozen” onto the rotors and that would require a tow to a shop for a lot banging cursing to remove the caliper from the rotor.

I have seen such a case, on a vehicle that was temporarily stored in a wet area in the woods here in NH. Totally destroyed the rotors. Even the vanes were badly rotted beyond function.

Yeah, on a rainy day rust will form on the rotors even while you’re in the mall shopping. And it normally comes right off. But extreme cases on cars temporarily unused do exist.