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Poll: who should have known what when about a brake problem?

My car has disk brakes front and rear. One year ago (late July) I had brakes “cleaned”, brake fluid replaced, and all new pads installed at a shop - let’s call it shop A. In October I had rear rotors and all pads replaced by a different shop - shop B. Three weeks ago I had front rotors and pads replaced and rear rotors machined at shop B. I now have horrible grinding from the left rear. So I take it back to shop B, where they tell me that the caliper is bad and has ground everything down and everything in the left rear needs to be replaced - at nearly $1000. So I call shop A to get a quote and in the process explain events and they say they can do it for $500 but that I should really get shop B to do it for free because they must have known the caliper was bad when they machined the rear rotor, given that they have to take the caliper apart to do so.

So, who knew what when? What should I be willing to pay for?

You need to go to Shop C.

I don’t know how Shop A knows to blame Shop B. After all, Shop B might not have caused the problem. It may have been caused by some random circumstance. However, I don’t like that one shop is blaming another. Shop B may have missed this, but there is no way to know now. Therefore, I would not go to either shop. Shop B might have caused the problem, or not caught it, but there is no way to know. Shop A is blaming Shop B so they can scare you away from them and get more of your business, which is quite unethical. You need to leave both Shop A and Shop B behind and find Shop C to do your brake work. Then get all your brake work done at one shop, so all the responsibility is centrally located and you don’t get into another finger pointing match.

I’m with Whitey. You need a new shop.

You must be hard on brakes. Why did all four brake pads wear out between last July and last October? Did you drive multiple thousands of miles in that time? You’re not telling us the reason the brakes needed this work.

I don’t think shop A did a very good job initially, and I don’t see how they can quote you a price 50% below shop B without looking at your vehicle. Besides, you do not have to take the caliper apart to machine the rotor. You remove the caliper, but you don’t take it apart.

Having said that, I don’t think the caliper went bad in three weeks, so perhaps shop B didn’t check everything thoroughly when they did the recent work.

Is there a shop C?

Before I give any opinions, I would like to know how many miles the car was driven between the 4-wheel brake job in July '08 and the rear brake job in October '08, and then again, how many miles were driven between the October '08 rear brake job and the recent front brake job.

Can you give us at least a rough approximation of how many miles between each of these brake jobs?

Yes, shop C is my conclusion. I just wanted reassurance. Thanks both of you for reply.

It sure seems fishy to me that all rotors and pads would need to be replaced multiple times in one year. Though my commute takes me on roads that are in terrible condition, I only drive about 5k miles per year. Each time vibration when braking was the reason I sought repair and shops claimed warped rotors.

I also think shop A “protests too much”. You are the second person to say that the caliper need not be taken fully apart, and I agree that their finger-pointing is unprofessional, so I don’t think I can trust shop A. Shop B allegedly wanted to charge so much because they “never” buy 3rd-party parts (uh-huh) and the hourly labor is more than most places. I got two other quotes around $500 without relating my story, so I don’t think I can trust shop B. So I am headed to shop C, which was recommended to me long ago but I opted for a place closer to home.

See above. I would actually think 2.5k is a high estimate, but let’s just say…

Sometimes the most convenient place works out, and sometimes it pays to drive further to find a good shop.

I hope things work out at shop C.

And what is the year, make, model, mileage of this fine example of the automakers art?

If you are actually wearing out brake pads in 2,500 miles–or even in 5,000 miles–then something is drastically wrong, and from a distance I don’t know whether it is the brake system itself (dragging calipers??), or if this excessive wear relates to your driving style, or if both of your mechanics are charlatans. Even in stop-and-go urban driving, a modern car should be able to get at least 15k on a set of brake pads.

Something is very wrong here.

What kind of car and how many miles? Maybe the problem with the left rear is a park brake cable that decided to hang up and it’s no one’s fault.

Agreed something is very wrong. After feedback here and finally speaking to an acquaintance in the business, seems like shop A is less than ethical and shop B is unethical and probably a charlatan (see next post).

You got it. The car has enough miles for any make and model’s parking brake to go. And in fact I told shop B that the parking brake was not working very well when I brought it in last month. Upon pick-up after repair, he told me that the cable was a little stretched and that he had “adjusted” it. The aforementioned person I spoke to, who at 3000 miles away has no interest in my business, said the guy at shop B is either highly incompetent or a crook. I suspect it’s the latter.

Any case, I’m on to shop C. Thanks, everyone, for the discussion.

Unfortunately, a problem with the parking brake is not really related to the very rapid wear of the front brake pads on this vehicle. If I am correctly reading the information that was provided, namely that the front pads wore out in 2,500 miles (or even in 5,000 miles), there is something very much wrong here.

Yes, I know that GM made some compact cars back in the early-mid '80s that typically wore out their brakes in ~12k-15k, but I am not aware of any modern cars that have this type of rapid brake wear problem.

As I stated earlier, the problems could be any of the following (or a combination of these factors):

Thieving mechanics who replace brake pads that are not badly worn
Brake system problems, such as dragging calipers
Bad driving habits on the part of the OP

Please don’t discount the last factor. Several years ago, I mentioned to a co-worker that she should take her new Volvo to the dealership for replacement of the brake light switch. I had driven in back of her for ~3 miles, and the brake lights were illuminated almost constantly.

Well, guess what? After she and her husband conferred on this point, and after hubby closely observed her driving habits, it turned out that her driving style was to almost constantly keep one foot on the brake pedal! She was apparently a real “nervous Nellie”, and unconsciously, she was braking the car almost all of the time. She literally had to re-learn how to drive.