New rotors and brake pads on a 3-year (25 K mi) vehicle?!

I just had my Escape Hybrid serviced at the dealership. I was told I my right rear brake was almost gone. It was severely rusted, and the brake pad was worn considerably. The SNAFU in this situation was that my registration had expired (oops) and to get it registered, I needed a new safety inspection, which Ford wouldn’t give me because of the condition my rear brake was in. So, I gave the go-ahead to install the new rotor and pad…

What I can’t figure out is this: if it was so rusted (not shiny like it should be) wouldn’t that mean that the pad wasn’t grabbing? But I never noticed any problem with my brakes, and they don’t feel any different now with the new rotor and pad. Did I get taken for a ride??

I’m not clairvoyant, so I don’t know. But, it is possible. If the caliper got stuck due to rust, possibly from the salt used on roads in the last 3 winters, it will wear quickly. Then stop grabbing as the pad wore out and not do anything after that. It is hard to tell sometimes if the rear brakes have problems, because the front brakes do as much as 70% of the work. That is why the rear brakes are much smaller that the front. A stuck rear break may cause a slight dragging feel, but will no cause the car to pull to one side. As I’ve witnessed with some of the cars I’ve worked on, the rear brakes may not work at all and some driver’s simply cannot tell.

If the brakes are working properly, the ROTOR will be shiny on both sides where the brake pads press. Are you saying that BOTH sides weren’t shiny; or, that ONE side wasn’t shiny?
One side of the rotor can be shiny, and the other can be rusty, when a brake caliper doesn’t slide (“float”) on it’s pins (bolts). This could be because the PINS are rusty and not letting the brake caliper float. When this happens, only ONE brake pad will make contact, and the wear on that one side will be accelerated. Ask the service manager to ask the service writer, to ask the mechanic foreman, to ask the mechanic if this is the case.
If the caliper pins were stuck (from rust, or something else), ONLY changing the brake pads and brake rotor won’t fix the problem. The pins need to be taken out, replaced if rusted, and lubricated (new, or used pins). This MAY NOT have been done. Place your bets, folks.

Rotors can rust up in a matter of days, especially on snowy salted roads. One driver may easily get twice the miles out of brakes than another, just based on driving style.

I would watch the brakes for a while. If you have questions see if your dealer will check out their work for free. If not, find a local independent shop. They are at least as good, on average, and are almost always cheaper.

On several occasions when in for routine service I have been advised to clean and relube the caliper pins since the pads were beginning to stick…salt and the use of brine for pre-treating roads are the cause.

I’m wondering if this is a cause of the hybrid regenerative breaking system. When trying to stop the car the first thing that kicks in is the regenerative breaking system. Then the brake pads kick in.

Thanks for all your responses; you certainly enlightened me on the subject of brakes.

First of all, I live in Hawaii, so salt on the roads isn’t an issue. I have driven my car at least three times a week since purchasing it, so it has never sat for a long period of time. And I live at 1,700 feet elevation, far from the ocean. I think the rotor was rusty from the start, from the barge trip from the mainland to Hawaii; consequently, the brake probably wasn’t functioning properly right from the start. I don’t know if both sides of the rotor were rusty as I only saw the outside.

Rusted caliper pins is a great point, and I’m going to bring it up with the service manager.

And the regenerative breaking sysem is another great point to ponder. A big mahalo (thank you) to all of you!

BTW: I absolutely love my car… I would recommend the Escape Hybrid (mine is 4WD) to everyone.

A 2nd opinion was in order.

I have suggestions(not requested) all over the map on my brakes when getting other work done to car. However they pass state inspection but do shake a bit on hard stops.

I would doubt very much if the brakes was rusted badly, in 3 years. 25k miles should not wear out a brake. I doubt if you needed the work done,

A lot of brake use will do it,especially driving up and down the hills/mountains in Paradise.

I agree with the salt brine problem in the north (not yours). The rear wheels seem to take the brunt, and any rusting can seize brakes. I’ve had two cars with identical miles (less than 50 K) needing rear brake jobs. We usually do 150k to 200 K with few brake problems and always on the front first. Another culprit is traction control if you drive too aggressively in slippery weather.
Hawaii…then salt air. I blame salt for every problem

Salt air, hills, driving habits and it’s quite possible to need brakes at an even lower mileage than that; all depending.

A worn pad does not necessarily grab and it’s also possible the park brake may not be releasing all of the way; binding cable, one notch on, or whatever.