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From simple brake job to master cylinder problem

Speaking of the large chain in another discussion group, S—s, I have just had a nightmare experience and could use some advice on how to handle it. S—s did a brake pad replacement for me in December; the car continued to have a high pitched squeal; took it back in January; they said everything was fine and they couldn’t hear the noise; a few days ago the brakes started with not only the squeal, but also started with a pulsating feel when braking; so I took it back to S—s. They test drove it and said it was the rotor; they repaired it. As I was driving out of the lot, I immediately noticed the very “soft brakes”. By the time I got home, I had almost no brake response at all save pressing the pedal to the floor. Took the car to a local garage and was told first that my front wheel was two lug nuts away from falling off and my master cylinder was not working, either due to air in the line or a worn seal, oh, and that it’s going to cost me $1400. Both S—s and the garage say that fixing the rotor could not have caused damage to the master cylinder, but I am absolutely sure something was done to cause this problem while S—s was fixing the rotor especially since they test drove the car and diagnosed only the rotor problem. Do I have any recourse here or am I out the additional $1400 to fix the cylinder? Help!

The master cylinder often fails when they seat the brake shoes. They have to stop the car a few times by stopping hard. It’s not their fault that it was ready to quit. It is a good thing it quit before you really needed it to work. I am editing this here two days later: I think that their prices are way too high. In addition, I have seen master cylinders start to leak just from pumping the brakes to push the pads into position so that the brakes will work when the car is backed out of the shop. It always amazes me when they just crap out that way, even when I have seen it happen so often. About the risk; yes, it is a small one but it happens.

Thanks for the response. So you are telling me that this is the risk I take when I have my brake pads replaced? I’ve never heard of this before

I think what Pleasedodgevan meant was that if the master cylinder is already just about worn out then when they shop tech brakes hard to seat the pads after doing a brake job it will probably go out then. That puts a lot of force on the internal seal and presents an “acid test”.

I think he’s also suggesting that it’s a good thing it happened then rather than when you yourself had to make a sudden stop in an emergency.

If the master cylinder is not already tired, then it should be able to withstand hard stops without failing.

Brake work often pushes the brake piston into regions that have not been disturbed in a long time. This pushes a lot of dirt into the master that can cause a problem. I don’t doubt that I could solve this problem for less than $10. Any valid shop is not going to take that chance and face a lawsuit if something goes wrong now. Your attitude probably created a situation where the shop now wants to replace everything.

My attitude with S—s was fair, considering S—s operator forgot to tighten the lug nuts in my right front tire and I had two lug nuts left by the time I got to a different garage and very little braking ability if it had come off. My attitude was even fair during the two earlier trips back to S—s because of continued brake pad problems (squeaky noise). As for the local garage, he is someone I’ve trusted with my cars for years.
Going through the process to file a complaint with S—s, however, is a test of anyone’s patience. When the S—s auto manager gives you a number to call that has nothing to do Customer Service, you are left to wind your way through the system until somebody eventually gives you the correct number. Then they are quick to reply with repeated automated phone calls asking if you had a pleasant experience while making the complaint. It would have been okay if the complaint had in fact been sent to the responsible party, which it never was. You are told to wait 24 hours and someone will call you and address your complaint; I waited 48+ hours. I’m a reasonable person when treated reasonably; S—s seems to go out of it’s way to not respond, hoping that you will just go away. The attitude I received from the Auto Mgr. led me to believe this was nothing new. She couldn’t look me in the eye, not once. I have learned an expensive lesson and will never use S—s again.

Still not sure which repair place quoted you the $1400. Assumed it was the second shop trying to cover everything. $1400 is just a fairy tale. I was livid when I just had to spend $28 on a front brake job for my vehicle!

Getting all this down in emails can be confusing…I went to my local garage the next day after leaving S—s with “soft brakes”. It was my local garage guy who pretty much said what you said about pushing the pistons in and causing dirt to get into the system although he wasn’t sure that caused it. He is the one who quoted me the $1400. I decided to check this out with a local Toyota dealership and they looked up the parts and labor. For a Toyota 4 Runner, the master cylinder was $1100, the labor was only about $150. That was comparable to what my garage quoted me. Even the Toyota parts guy was surprised it was that expensive, but that’s what his computer said. I also had to pay extra to have the rotors redone because driving with the loose tire (no lug nuts!) caused one of them to warp. The brake pad replacement job at S—s cost me $180 which they have agreed to refund. I guess that’s the price of driving a foreign made SUV.

thats the price for going to sears,the guys get paid 10.00 hr,it’s sure not the vehicle.

not sure if you are still reading this or not, but you went for 25 days or so without telling the whole story. how old, how many miles, and what condition is the entire vehicle. i see it is a 4 runner, at least the type is known, but is much easier if the whole info is given at the outset.