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Stiff and Smelly Brakes after brake job

I just had a brake job on my 1999 Camry (new rear brake shoes, front rotors and front pads). Now the brakes feel much more stiff than before. I have to push the brakes harder to stop and the parking brake is also a lot tighter. Also, the car still has that distinct brake smell in front when I get out, and the brake job was at least two weeks ago. Is this normal, or could the people who worked on my car have messed something up?

The only part that’s normal is the parking brake being “tighter” because of the new rear brake shoes. They may also have adjusted the parking brake cable, although I doubt it. The brakes should feel the same, or maybe be a bit easier to use, not harder, and there should be no smell. If you smell hot brakes, something is wrong. Perhaps a caliper is sticking, and not releasing the brakes. That’s just a guess. Go back and let the mechanic correct whatever is wrong. There is, however, something wrong.

Where was this brake work performed?

When you next smell the odor, carefully feel the front wheels at the lugs. If they are hot to the touch after ‘normal’ driving it would indicate a problem. The shop would likely welcome your returning to invetigate the possible problem. Good shops don’t like unhappy customers and especially dislike brake problems. My personal insistance that brake work gets an abusive road test before delivery has served me well.

Stiff brakes? Different people will use different describing words so it’s hard get exactly what you mean.

New brakes will feel different and when you step on the pedal it should not fell stiff but FIRM. If that is what you feel then it is good.

Parking brake tighter, thats a good thing.

It now smells? Might be normal. New rotors have a substance sprayed on them to prevent rust. Some techs will use brake clean to remove the film before installing. Some do not and it not a big deal if they do or do not. When your brakes are new this substance will burn off and that creates a smell. How much do you drive? Very little or do you rack up the miles quickly. If you drive very little it might take a bit to burn this off.

Don’t bother feeling the area around the lug nuts. That will be hot if there is a problem or not. Just go to the shop and explain your concerns. Don’t get mean with them but go in there with some confidence in yourself and they should treat you right. You could also go to a different shop for a second opinion.

hope all goes well.