Did not fixing the brakes on time cause more damage?

I took my car in to have them check the brake noise in June, and in July. Both times they told me it was fine. Today, they tell me I need an entire new rear brake job (replaced rear brake shoes, service hardware, repacked rear wheel bearings, bled and adjusted; machined rear drums; replaced rear wheel cylinders). In between my first request to today I have put about 6,000 miles on the car. I was wondering if this repair is to be expected (it’s a 2005 Subaru Forrester with 123,000 miles), or if this was due to them not finding the noise at first and me continuing to put 5,000 miles on the car when I drove it to North Carolina.

How much did they charge you? The work performed sounds about right for a 9 year old car with 123K on it…Let me guess…$300…

A non issue, pretty standard brake job.

Is the “they” that did the first two inspections the same “they” that did the brake job? Is the noise gone? Are “they” a dealership, a chain store like Midas, or an independent mechanic.

I don’t think you repack the rear wheel bearings on a Subaru. That sounds bogus to me.

If you took the car to the same shop three times in three months complaining of brake noise, they probably figured if they didn’t do something for you, you would keep coming back every month to have them take the wheels off and look at your brakes, which is a waste of time and effort to them and can leave you frustrated with them since they can’t find the cause of your complaint. It is also true that brakes can make noise under certain conditions a mechanic cannot easily replicate (such as first thing in the morning, backing out of the driveway, when it rained last night) and a routine inspection will show nothing wrong. These kinds of situations can put a mechanic in a tough spot as far as customer relations goes. Some people would take well to being told “brakes work by creating friction, friction can sometimes cause noise. There is nothing wrong with your brakes, so flake off”. On the other hand, some customers cannot stand the noise and just want it gone, even if it costs a few hundred dollars. The mechanic probably assumed you were in this category since you had been in the shop for the same complaint three times in three months, and a complete brake job with premium parts is a surefire way to address a brake noise complaint. There are less costly alternatives to the complete brake job that can be attempted to cure brake noise complaints, such as just machining the drums, but most mechanics won’t try this with a customer’s vehicle because it’s a gamble with the customer’s money, and if the customer doesn’t win, they are very unhappy and it reflects badly on the shop.

You may want to look into that repack the wheel bearings thing. I suspect this may be a generic, standardized text on the bill, but if you received an itemized charge for repacking the wheel bearings, you may have a legitimate dispute for that charge. I think some older Subarus without all wheel drive did have rear wheel bearings that required periodic servicing, but I’m not sure your car falls into that category.

Brakes are like that. They are fine, then at some point, they wear enough that they need service. Same as the gas tank. It is full for a while, then after more miles of driving, it isn’t full enough, and more gas has to be put in.

What the shop did, that’s all what is done to do a proper service job on aged rear drum brakes. It sounds like they did a good job.

If this is the first rear brake job on your 123K Subaru, you’re doing good, no complaints.