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HELP! - Brakes - Is this my fault or the mechanics?


So here’s my situation… After driving to Vegas and back my brakes were pretty worn so I took it to a mechanic who changed my rear brakes. Let’s keep in mind that they were definitely worn but the van remained drive-able there was no major issue with them. So I get my van back and you could tell right away something was off we just figured he didn’t bleed them all the way because they would work better after we pumped them a bit. Then the next day I go get pizza with my 1 year old daughter and about halfway there my brakes were hitting the floor! No pumping would make it better! so I drive 20 the whole way taking back streets and freaking out pissed off that I paid for a professional job and here I am driving with my kid with no brakes! After I get home my husband looks and finds the rear driver side tire soaked with brake fluid!

My question is… Am I rightfully angry with this guy or is he right when he tells me I caused the leak by riding the brakes too long before changing them?? to be exact he said we caused the leak by hyperextending the caliper…

That is when you should have returned to the mechanic not driving around pumping brakes. Try talking to the mechanic calmly and hope that he will give some discount to the repair. I think he should only charge for the brake cylinder but he can also claim it is a separate failure. You need brakes and this maybe one of those no win situations.

IMHO you’re rightfully angry.
It is possible that the caliper seals were ready to go out, or that he damaged the seals when he compressed the calipers to install the pads, or that he left a bleeder not secured (leaking), but his trying to blame you makes me highly suspicious that his workmanship was shoddy and that he knows it.


He should have mentioned this at the time of the repair, and recommended the caliper be replaced.


I agree with the others. If you hyperextended the caliper he would have noticed, because he’d have had to perform extra work to get the piston to retract so that the new pads would fit over the rotor.

Generally calipers only get hyperextended when you’ve worn all of the brake pad material away and it’s metal-on-metal, which makes one hell of an obnoxious noise that you’d surely have noted. Was it making bad noises before you took it in?

At any rate, if you really did hyperextend your caliper and he were a competent mechanic he would have checked the caliper for damage before sending you on your way. If nothing else, that would have enabled him to make more money by selling you a caliper. I find it difficult to believe that a competent mechanic would turn his nose up at making more money when a repair honestly needs to be performed, which tells me it’s more likely that he screwed something up and doesn’t want to take the blame.

I have worn brake pads down to metal and never had a problem with over extending the caliper. That being said it really doesn’t matter. If the caliper is leaking, it needs to be replaced. Age and wear caused the failure and pushing the caliper back in for the new pads caused it to leak. I really don’t think it is anyone’s fault but he was silly to blame it on using the brakes. Put a new caliper on and hope the new pads aren’t soaked with brake fluid so that they need to be replaced again.

If his theory is true the hyperextension would have been done before he did the brake job and he should have spotted it. Actually his theory is boooogus as the Tappet brothers used tosay.

You were also irresponsible and negligent for continuing to drive after your brake pedal hit the floor.

You also need another brake job because your new pads are soaked with brake fluid.

So, the mechanic claims your problem was that while driving your van you used the brakes. He has a point, you should not have ever put your foot on the brake pedal, then there would be no problem. Yeah, some mechanic. He’s grasping for straws. Have your lawyer write the mechanic a letter demanding all your money back or you will see him in court. Then take your van to a decent brake shop with a decent brake mechanic for a complete brake job. No matter the cost, it will be worth it. Enough already. You need brakes!!!

I agree with Volvo above. But, I have to question your driving, sorry.

I don’t know where you live, but one trip should cause only a tiny amount of brake wear. Are you riding the brake pedal? You should need to use the brakes only at traffic lights and for emergencies. If you drive with proper spacing, engine braking should be enough most of the time.

That’s a little off-base. We’re talking about, what, $600? And you want OP to pay a lawyer $400 an hour to sue the mechanic?

This would be small claims if OP decided to sue, which generally does not involve lawyers because the judgment amounts aren’t enough to make paying a lawyer worth it.

I had a lawyer write a threatening letter and it cost me $25. Then the lawyer made a phone call. The result was I got the money owed me. Then i paid the lawyer another $25. I’ll admit that was 25 years ago.

There aren’t a whole lot of lawyers who will do anything for you for only 25 bucks these days unless they’re family.

And if the mechanic has half a brain he’s going to know you’re not gonna actually loose the lawyer on him because the lawyer will cost you more than you’ll ever recover.

You may be able to negotiate paying for parts and them picking up labor, stuff happens.

It is possible that deferring the brake repair caused the caliper piston to extend beyond a point where it could reliably be forced back into position. At least and not continue to remain continent. Still, I don’t know of any specific shop rule about how far out the piston can extend before the caliper has to be replaced or rebuilt. Such a thing is considered a judgement call relying on the experience of the shop tech to make the decision I expect. You wouldn’t be the first case of a brake job that leaks afterward. Ask me how I know this … lol …

As mentioned above, after brake work is done on your car, the brakes should perform flawlessly. If there’s a problem remaining, remember that brakes seldom fix themselves with more use. They only get worse. So the best course of action at that point is to immediately return the vehicle to the shop, tow it if necessary, for a look-see what’s causing the problem. Work out who pays for what, but only after the brakes are working correctly.

What exactly happened in your case, you’'ll probably never know. What I’d do if I had that problem is ask the shop to replace both rear calipers with new ones, and carefully monitor the brakes for a few weeks after the repair is done. And I’d ask the to pull both front wheels and do a visual on those brakes too. If they recommend a repair on the front, do that too. I expect that will get you back on the road with reliable braking.

Yeah I don’t know how long she talked but my sister would call the lawyer and I’d get a bill for $150 for the call. Couldn’t have been for more than five minutes. At any rate, maybe a real good guy could anticipate a leaky caliper but really the only thing that was wrong was blaming it on using the brakes. You normally would not need to replace calipers though for a simple pad replacement. So I just question what the rationale would be for forcing the guy to redo everything for a leaky caliper. Ad a non mechanic anyway.

I have done a lot of brake jobs on cars where the pads were metal to metal and that never extended the pock enough to come out of the bore. I have had them stuck to the point they don;t want to retract but then I would rebuild the calipers. The last time I had a stuck caliper I found out that our local suppliers might have a part number for a rebuild kit but they don’t stock them anymore even in their warehouse.

The answer these days is a rebuilt caliper.

Why does car maintenance have to be someone’s fault? There’s no one to blame here. Brakes wear out. That’s normal. Moving parts eventually fail. Also normal.

Replace the calipers and be done with it.

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He probably cracked the bleeder screw open to easily push the cylinder back in his bore and forgot to tighten it afterward.My guess

Never drive a car if you have to pump the brake pedal to get the brakes to work. Fix the brakes. Good advice already given is to change the brake fluid soaked pads. I say a good brake job always means news cups in the calipers when new pads are installed. If you do not clean the calipers and install new cups when new pads are installed then the old cups will have a new travel path. The new path can cause the old cups to start leaking.

Patgurr, are you aware of the age of this thread? :slight_smile: