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Mechanic error on two cars, or that's life with cars. Benefit of the doubt, highly doubtful

Both cars are over 10 years old and have over 150,000 miles, automatic transmissions.

Car #1 story: After driving 50 miles, went to turn into driveway, and the brake pedal went to the floor. Checked brake bluid. No problem. Mechanic had replaced brake fluid line a couple months before. Car towed to mechanic. Brakes are fine. Sent home with car, but I reviewed braking procedures should brakes fail again, which involved shifting into lower gear and pulling on emergency brake. I didn’t need to do that. Braking was fine.

Used the emergency brake twice. Forgot to disengage it for 3 miles each time. A couple weeks later, heard bad sound coming from rear of car. Took car to mechanic. I told him about my stupid mistake. I said I didn’t think the emergency brake was working. He said caliper was stuck. Replaced caliper. He said nothing about the emergency brake. Some hours later, I ask him about the emergency brake not working, and he said that I didn’t need an emergency brake with an automatic transmission, and that no, he hadn’t replaced it because the emergency brake was so corroded and jammed and eating the pads, it would cost more than the value of my car to fix it. He said that under no circumstances should I use it. He didn’t tell me this when I picked up the car.

Question: The mechanic inspected the car in December. I haven’t checked the state manual, but generally, doesn’t an emergency brake have to work? It was poor that he didn’t tell me not to use the emergency brake after I handed over several hundred dollars, so why am I asking this question?

Car #2 story. Bad rain storm. While there was a minor sunroof leak from time to time, after this one, there was an inch and a half of water on the floor. Drove car 8 miles. Car would not start. No jump was attempted. Car towed to mechanic. Mechanic jumped car, arcing out the battery and all electrical components. Given that he knew that major electrical components are located under the seat. Car now deader than dead, and he finds there is no oil pressure at all. (He has worked on this engine as recently as 6 months ago).

He hasn’t said anything by way of apology - “Should have mentioned you shouldn’t set the emergency brake.” Was attempting a jump on a water-saturated vehicle reasonable?

If said mechanic happens to be reading this, I think you might want to give something of a refund and an apology.

Mechanics come-back line: “If I wanted to work in a junk-yard, that’s where I would work…”

“The mechanic inspected the car in December. I haven’t checked the state manual, but generally, doesn’t an emergency brake have to work?”

If your state’s vehicle inspection is actually a safety inspection (rather than just the emissions check that many inspections are nowadays), then–yes–the e-brake should have been working at the time of the inspection, in order to pass the inspection.

However, you state that you used the e-brake twice recently, which would seem to imply that it was working–at least to some extent. If you did use the e-brake recently, that would seem to indicate that it was working a few months previously, when the car was inspected.

Have I missed something here?
Can you clarify the facts if I am mistaken?

If you drove for three miles with the E brake on, your E brake wasn’t working to begin with. I don’t know why he replaced the caliper but he may have seen something that was of a more eminent danger. He may have saved your life. If you fail inspection, then the E brake will need to be repaired, but its not an E brake anymore, it’s a parking brake.

Jumping the battery didn’t do the damage. There was battery voltage there when the water leaked in in the first place. The damage was already done. If you are responding to something that has just happened, it may be possible that when the electronics dry completely, they will start working again. There are drains in the sunroof that need to be cleared so the vehicle doesn’t get flooded again.

If the electronics aren’t working and the car is “deader than dead”, how can your mechanic determine that there is no oil pressure? That is the only thing that concerns me here.

Car #1 sounds to me like a miscommunication between the mechanic and yourself.
You did offer to him that the E brake worked and you left it on twice, but that was not why you brought the car into him…it was the noise in the rear. He then found a bad caliper, replaced it and got you on your way. I can see how when you asked “some hours later” about the E brake that it had reminded him of how coroded everything was. I can see how then he would suggest not using them because they wouldn’t take much to break completely and that it would be too expensive to fix.

Car #2 unless there was still the inch and a half of water on the floor when he hopped in and found that he needed to jump it, I wonder if he would think about the electronics under the seat,
All cars are contoured a bit differently under the seats and unless you really look you wouldn’t know how low the electronics are. Even if you did look and they were high enough that the inch and a half wouldn’t have gotten near them…would the guy think “when the wrecker lifted the front end the, water got deep enough to cause a problem”. Many cars do not have the electronics under the seat.

Wait I just reread the post. You already tried to start the car. Couldn’t your attempt have fried the electronics and you sent it to him that way and now he thinks that his jump did the damage.
You put 12 volts to the system by trying to start it, and so did he!!!

parking brake: parking brake is not part of the safety inspection in my state. in older cars they often are corroded and break or lock up when tried to be used after many years of non use. they are a pain to fix, but the parts are cheap and definitely not worth more than the value of your car to fix. he was just brushing you off because he did not want to do the work, or did not want to deal with you, IMO. but I may be wrong because I m not sure how e-brakes work with calipers, only drums and shoes. leaving your brake on for 3 miles, and they will drive with brake set if the e-brake is not adjusted tightly, may have damaged some thing , or he may have been able to free locked e-brake and the caliper would just release. it can t be good for caliper to drag for long periods, so I would trust his opinion.

brake pedal went to floor: if your brake pedal went to the floor, the brakes were not fine no matter what was reported to you. brakes do not go to the floor in a properly functioning brake system.

I think your systems shorted out before he ever touched the car, he just verified it.

it sounds like the fault is not the mechanics in these cases

As far as the battery being located under the seat . . .

Many cars with batteries in remote locations still have a jump post located under the hood

I can think of any number of cars where that is the case

I would have tried the jump posts first

Did he try the jump posts . . . assuming you have them . . . or did he go directly to the battery?

I don’t think that the OP meant the battery was under the seat…rather electronics.
Maybe Drive train control computer

At least that is the way I took it.

Car #1 - Any mechanic that sends you home telling you everything is fine after your brake pedal goes straight to the floor should get into another line of work. Perhaps there’s a job opening for a parts counter guy.
I’d park this one until I got a chance to change the master cylinder out.

"he said that I didn’t need an emergency brake with an automatic transmission, and that no, he hadn’t replaced it because the emergency brake was so corroded and jammed and eating the pads, it would cost more than the value of my car to fix it. He said that under no circumstances should I use it.
The man is an idiot. I’m sorry, but no other description fits.

Car #2 - Same guy? PLEASE, Mr. mechanic, find a new line of work!

To the OP I say, the problem is not that cars are bad, the problem is that your mechanic is. You need a new shop.

Based on Number 1 the point could be made that the mechanic is incorrect in his thinking but with the murkiness around Number 2 I’m of the feeling that if the finer details of the story and the exact words used were provided the story might go off in another direction and absolve the mechanic of any blame.

There’s a lot of murkiness when tying in a flooded car to a lack of oil pressure on an engine which the mechanic touched 6 months before.

There’s always 2 sides to every story and it would be interesting to hear the flip side, or sides as it may be.

THe OP also states in both stories that each vehicle has been seen by this mechanic…one last December and the other car 6 months ago.
To the OP…please don’t rely on your mechanic to remember what the particulars are of your car.
Even 6 months ago, 128 working days X 4 cars per day, is well over 500 cars ago, but be probably works on twice that many.
I just seem to be missing the point about him seeing these cars in the past 6 months.

When the pedal went to the floor on #1 and you had it towed, it sounds like it was such a minor fix that he did a quick repair and got you on your way that day. It may have been so minor a repair that he didn’t even feel he should write it up and figured he’d get paid with a repeat costomer.
After that you took the car it was two weeks until you had another problem. WE don’t know what he did that the pedal was fine. So this is not an ongoing repair…rather two different problems unrelated.
Granted it is all problems with the brakes, but I don’t think they are related to the same repair. If he repaired a line to fix it when the pedal went to the floor…this would not have anything to do with a caliper sticking two weeks later.
Thats kind of like saying “You replaced the left tail light last month, and now the right directional light went out” What did you do!!!


Thanks to all who responded. I apologize for murkiness on my part.

When the pedal went to the floor on #1 and I had it towed, if it was a quick fix, he had the car for a week. He almost always has the cars for at least a week. He had repaired the bluid line last year. I have more respect for mechanics and the vagaries of vehicles to throw blame off-hand.

He might well have saved my life by replacing the caliper, but, on the other hand, is it safe to be driving a vehicle that has such massive corrosion around the parking brake unit? Tomorrow, I will find out what the chances are that it could lock up the car while I’m driving it.

Car 2 was started and driven with no problems after the rain, so I doubt the electronics were fried as everything worked. It was only after it was parked and restarted that it wouldn’t start. Both cars were towed on flatbeds.

Gonna mull all this over and try to get more objectivity. Thank you.

Cancel that. Not mechanic error. Question remaining is what are the chances of the corrosion locking up the car. Will find out.

if you don t set the parking brake it should not lock up

@whereisthebus; Sorry if we all were a bit confused, but we’re just trying to make heads or tails of what we percieve from a person that posts on here.
because we don’t have a clue as the make and model of car #1, it is hard to answer why the e-brake may lock up. He may just feel that if you use it, it will not release like it should some day. It might work today, but because of the corrosion it might not tomorrow.
I doubt that he meant that one day you’d be going down the road and they would engauge and cause an accident.
There are so many vehicles out there on the road without working E-brakes. People with automatics tend to rely on the parking pawl in the transmission and forget that they even have an E-brake. THen because of non-use the cable rusts and one day it doesn’t work at all.
That’s usually how people know it’s broken or siezed with rust.
I have all automatics and I try to remember every now and then to work the e-brake a dozen times…to keep things free and moving. I try!!!
If thats the problem and he feels that it’s not a problem…just have him Zip-tie, down the handle so you cannot forget and set it.
Maybe then in a couple of months when it’s in your budget, have him replace it all. It really should not cost that much, but don’t wait so long as the cables rust up.


I forgot to mention that when the mechanic inspected the car in Dec. He most likely did not inspect the e-brake pads and parts. I know you are thinking that he should have, but to do that you would have to pay him a lot more. If it has rear disc brakes he would have to remove more parts than a normal brake job to be able to inspect the e-brake pads. Then put it all together again.
With all that work he may as well have you agree to do a rear brake job and new rotors for $175-$250…depending on the car and "if the E-brakes need work It’ll cost you more.
If it would cost the $175 for new rotors and brakes in the rear…I’d charge you $100 just to tear all that apart to inspect and put it all back together.

So how much did the inspection cost???


No manufacturer that I know of claims to have an emergency brake anymore. They all call it a parking brake. Was it during one of those 3 mile trips with the parking brake on that your cars brake pedal went to the floor? If so, you may have gotten tje rear brakes hoy enough to boil the brake fluid. That would have sent the pedal to the floor.
Not all states require the parking brake to be inspected and you have not told us where you live or even what your cars are.