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Midas v. Dealer

On a road trip this weekend with daughter, my front brakes started making a horrible grinding noise. The nearest place we could find to look at them was a Midas. The guy at Midas said my rear brakes weren’t adjusted correctly and so all the braking was being done on the front, wearing them out prematurely. My back brakes were just done in Nov by the Subaru dealer, who says Midas always tells people stuff like that. Anyone been in this situation?

In my opinion, hardly anything said or done by Midas should be trusted. However, that doesn’t mean that the dealer isn’t wrong too.
What was the dealer’s explanation for the apparently unexpected pad loss on the front brakes?
How many miles since the front brakes were serviced?
Do you routinely use the parking brake?

All the time. The rear brakes should always be adjusted after replacing the front disc brake pads. The rear brakes are usually never touched so premature wear of the front brake pads is quite common. Sounds like a guy at Midas was on the ball for once. I don’t recommend chain shops or dealerships so that guy should open his own independent repair shop if he is competent in most areas of vehicle repair.

As a general rule, when away from home like that , just fix the bare bones basics that you know are bad today.
ALL the rest can wait till you get to your home mechanic.

It depends on the Midas shop. They’re independently owned and it’s all about the individual people there. A local Midas shop was run by a known sheister and I wouln’t have gone there nor recomended them to anyone, despite the nationally known name on the sign.

Does your car have rear disc brakes, or rear drum brakes?

Disc brakes do not require adjustment, and drum brakes on modern cars are self-adjusting.

I’d be disinclined to believe the story Midas told you. It is true, however, that the majority of braking is done by the front brakes. This is true of all cars.

I still think the story you got was BS. That doesn’t mean your front brakes weren’t worn out.

When I first started driving and had a job, I was sucked into Midas a couple times by their “$99 for lifetime brake pads” promotion. Each time I went in, it cost me almost $600, and they refused to release my car until I paid (except for the last time, when I threatened to call the cops, and they suddenly remembered that it was illegal to do that). Never went back.

Interesting side note; My dad almost died about 4 years later when one of the cars with Midas lifetime brake pads stopped braking. He took it to an honest mechanic friend of his, and whoever installed it had done a horrible job. Apparently the entire apparatus was in shambles, and it was a miracle it had lasted that long.

Just remember that Midas is like Supercuts or Massage Envy. It’s the minimum wage version of that service, so there’s no real consistency with service (some people will work great, regardless of their pay, others will slack off).

My “BS” light is flashing bright, based on what the Midas guy said and my previous bad run-in with one. Are the front pads worn out (that grinding noise might just be the wear indicator)?

I agree that modern drum brakes are “self adjusting” but the most common method is stopping from a reverse motion or the use of the hand/emergency brake. If you don’t back up a lot or use your hand/emergency brake frequently (most people don’t) then the drum brakes are not properly adjusted. I rarely see a vehicle that has properly adjusted rear brakes after front disc pad replacement. That’s why I always check the adjustment of rear drum brakes.

One vital tidbit is missing from this Q&A. How many miles are on the front brake pads, and for that matter, on the car? The rear brakes on most cars last a long time, often over 100,000 miles. I don’t know how much the rear brakes being out of whack would affect the life of the front brakes, but the front really does most of the braking anyway, as has already been pointed out here.

How did $600 of work get done without your prior approval? I don’t think we have the whole story here.

Agreed, but I still want to know if the OP’s Impreza has drums or discs on the rear.


As usual, the Devil is in the details, and too many details have been left out by the OP.

We need to know the model year of the vehicle, as well as the current odometer mileage, the number of miles/months since the front brake pads were last replaced, and of course, whether this car has discs or drums on the rear.

The name Midas makes me shudder.

However, you haven’t told us whether the front pads really were worn out, whether they were changed, or whether Midas fixed the problem.

Were they? Did they?

Biggest problem was I had to leave my car and go on the trip with FIL’s car, and he’s the one who took it to Midas. So I had no control over what was fixed or haggling or where it was taken (and he paid for the work. Lovely man). BUT the dealer mechanic said the work would have cost the same at the dealership IF Midas used new Subaru parts, which of course, he wouldn’t have. I do have an independent mechanic to whom I usually take my car; this was just a weird situation all around.

Did a quick search, but don’t know if the brakes are disc or drum (98 Impreza). My old Sub was such a pain to do brake work on, I haven’t attempted again. I started using the parking break more in the last couple of years, and anything done to the front brakes is the ONLY thing I can’t find in the file (seriously, EVERYTHING else is there. Totally frustrating), so I’m not sure when they were last serviced. I have a stick, so I don’t usually use the brakes much, and they aren’t something I have to deal with much. But I have been doing road trips for work lately, and there’s a lot of slowing from high speeds. I do know they were checked in Nov. and May and were not considered a problem. The dealer said there were “many reasons brakes would go bad”, but he was rude and defensive, so basically I decided I just wouldn’t go there again (and write to Subaru about the incident).

I also admit to being a little defensive because I’ve had mechanics in places other than my native Alaska tell me “well Subarus are tricky” or “Subarus have this or that problem” when I know they just don’t have any experience with them. So when I get a quote, I try to figure out whether they are charging me more because they think I’m used to it or won’t know how much things cost. Thanks for all the feedback!

Soooooo…is the car fixed?

Yes. That’s what prompted my post.