Entire brake system meltdown w/ less than 60k miles!

I had my car serviced right before a big move. When I was driving cross-country this summer, I noticed some weird vibrations when I was braking, so I took it in to get looked at and they said all my rotors were overheated (front and rear, which they said was rare), but that I should wait until the brakes needed to be replaced to save some money.

A couple months later, I was driving on the freeway and lost acceleration, having to pull over to lots of sound and vibration. I had it towed to a repair place that couldn’t repeat the problem and had no ideas what it was. So I continued to drive it without issues until another month or so later, when the problem reoccured. From then on, every time I drove at freeway speed for more than ten minutes, I would get the vibrations, lose speed and have to pull over.

I took it to another repair place this week, who was able to repeat the issue during test driving, and they determined that someone had put oil into the brake fluid, which: (1) was causing the brakes to stick and overheat the rotors, (3) was making the ABS go haywire,(3) had contaminated and destroyed pretty much every component in my 2002 Honda CR-V brake system…calipers, rotors, modulator, brake lines, valves, etc, and (4) would cost $2,300 to fix!

Now, seeing as I have no mortal enemies that I know of, and given that I didn’t touch the brake fluid (I don’t even change my own oil), it’s obvious that one of the mechanics put oil in the wrong place (a fairly dangerous negligence actually). Oh, by the way, all the repair places were Honda dealerships.

My question is, how can I get someone else to pay part of this outrageously high service bill? No one I talked to would admit it were even possible they could have put oil in the brakes. But I didn’t, so where did it come from?

The district manager for Honda customer service may be your best ally in this. And damage from adding the wrong fluid to the brake system is not uncommon.

The big questions would be who has been servicing your car and if this oil in the brake system is known to be a fact, not a wild guess or fraud.

There’s not enough info known by me anyway to make much of a guess and if someone added oil to the brake hydraulics the only way you’re going to get reimbursed is if you can prove the case against whoever did it. There’s no way that Honda Motor Company is going to good will warranty this, even if a Honda dealer did it.
Up to this point no one has serviced the brakes so why would oil, or even brake fluid, have been added?

Do you have the oil changed at the quickie lube places? They say they top off the fluids, it might have been them.

Have you or anyone else added oil between oil changes? It’s hard to see a dealer making this mistake, but I could see some gas station attendant doing this, ie, adding oil to the wrong place.

I haven’t had the car serviced at a gas station or an oil & lube place, at least not in the last year. I’m also getting conflicting opinions about the timing. One dealer felt that contamination in the hydralics would cause immediate problems, the other thought it could be more gradual. Honda’s national customer service official standing is that they can only pass along my concerns to the dealers that serviced the vehicle. On another note, the original estimate was missing some major parts, so it has been updated to $4600.

This looks like an extremely hard battle uphill to place any blame. I would contact the regional manager for Honda and state all service done at Honda dealers. They may goodwill this however this is a serious amount of money.

I just don’t see this going far given you use different dealerships who are going to blame the other. Good luck

You would start having problems as soon as the oil hit the seals in the master cylinder. Maybe a day or two at most.

Who had most recently serviced the car before you first noticed symptoms? And what was the nature of the service? They might not want to fess-up, but this was the most likely source of the oil/brake fluid contamination. And since these are all dealerships you’ve been taking the car to, they should have invested some time in figuring out WHY the rotors were overheating, instead of just telling you that’s what the problem was. In addition, they told you to keep driving it and wait to replace the rotors (hopefully you’ve got all of this documented in the service/repair orders), which means there is definitely some liability on the dealer’s part concerning the further degradation of the brake system. You should also have documentation that one dealer says the effects of oil/brake fluid contamination would be immediate, and that the other dealer says it would be gradual. I would be raising hell if I were you…in the most pleasant way possible of course. If you don’t have any documentation, however, you’re probably going to be fighting a losing battle.