Is my mechanic trying to screw me? Or did my caliper really go bad in a week?



Eight days ago I got my brake pads replaced. After examining my whole brake system, my mechanic’s only comment was to ask if I wanted new rotors put in as preventative maintenance, since there would be no labor charge. My rotors aren’t damaged so I declined, and the mechanic saw no other “problems” with my system.

Two days after I got my car back, my brakes started to squeak when I stepped on them - something they weren’t even doing BEFORE i had the pads replaced. The squeaking became longer, louder, and more frequent, so I went back to my mechanic today, and after a quick test drive I was told my front passenger caliper is rubbing. This needs to be fixed very soon, they said. It will put a ton of wear on your new brake pads & your rotors, but even worse it will cause your car to drift right while you brake, and the drifting will get worse until your car locks up completely & is undriveable. That will be $270 for two calipers and labor, they said…

My question is this. Did my caliper actually go bad in the week I was driving it since the brake pad job? Or could they have damaged/moved it somehow while they were changing my brake pads?

I find it hard to believe they “didn’t notice” it while looking over the brake system. After the 60 second test drive the mechanic hopped out and looked at the wheel, then pointed out a black ring where my caliper is apparently rubbing - they would have noticed that a week ago, right?

Or did they just not say anything, so that when I came back they could charge me an extra $97.50 in labor (that’s the estimate, after they generously(?) took off an hour)…

Your help would be greatly appreciated, I don’t know much about brakes, but the this whole thing seems a little fishy to me…

Thanks! :slight_smile:


If you don’t trust them get another opinion. However, if one of your calipers is sticking you need to have it fixed. If it’s not just a matter of lubricating it, you will want to have both calipers replaced.


if it is sticking i will definitely have my front ones replaced.

i want to know if there is any way if i can tell if my mechanic screwed me over on this… at the very least so they can fix it if they did?

or is that just too much to hope?


Ditto Craig. Get another opinion.


When the new pads are installed, they must retract the caliper piston to make room for the thickness of the new pad. Over time, debris builds up behind the piston so when they push it back into its bore, the debris can cause problems like you are experiencing. In that case, there is nothing they did wrong or could have done to prevent the problem. Another way the caliper can stick is if they did not properly clean and grease the pins the caliper slides on to position the caliper evenly over the rotor. This can result in the caliper pressing more on one side of the rotor then the other. Usually, it takes more time for this problem to surface as the pads have to wear some in order for it to become an issue. So I’d guess you got bit by the first problem and it’s not their fault it happened. Whether or not they should have noticed the issue when they tested the car is up for debate. But by then it was all assembled anyway and so they would have had the labor time to take it apart again regardless. Sometimes, in the interest of goodwill toward a good customer, shops will be willing to split labor costs or assume some of the cost liability in these situations. Personally, I think that’s the best you can hope for under the circumstances.


thanks for the explanation twinturbo, that really helped me understand this whole situation a lot better.

and the shop did say they’d take an hour off, which is almost 1/2 the labor.

as a female i have had numerous shops try to pull one over on me if i go alone, even shops that my boyfriend & i have been customers at for years. never mind i actually know more about cars between the two of us, if he goes, prices are always lower. this shop has just been very good to us in the past, and he’s been super busy, so i chanced going by myself and… well, you know what happened from there…

so i’m going to have him get a second opinion somewhere else, and i guess we’ll see.

again, thank you so much for all the info.


I had the same thing happen when the rear pads were changed on my 2000 Blazer. Twin Turbo did a much better job of explaining it than I could have though. Both rear calipers were sticking after the brake job and had to be replaced. According to my mechanic, most times only the pads have to be replaced, but sometimes the calipers will stick due to the reasons listed above. The three previous brake jobs the mechanic did, only the pads had to be replaced. I’ve been with the mechanic for 14 years and have always had good service from him. I doubt your mechanic was trying to put one over on you, the fact that they are giving you a break on the labor is a good sign.

Ed B.


Unless I’m missing something here, the caliper pins should be cleaned and greased with a brake pad replacement. It’s routine and considered part of the normal servicing. IMO your mechanic took an unwarranted short cut by just replacing the pads. He owes you at least a caliper inspection/cleaning and greasing, if they aren’t too damaged. New calipers would be on your hook, I believe.


ahhh, also very useful good point :slight_smile: tyvm!