Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Think a mechanic may be BSing me on brakes

I have a 2008 Toyota Matrix. (My very first NEW car after 27 years of driving) The front brake(s) will make a ‘clunk’ when the first time or two I brake after the car has sat. After that it doesn’t do it. It could sit while I have gone into the store, work or overnight. It sounds to me like it is the right side but then again I am never the passenger.

The mechanic said he checked both sides and sees nothing wrong. He then suggested that Toyota brakes have a reputation for creating a space within the piston after it has sat. So, he says, the noise comes when the brake(s) are compensating for the inital space. He said it is not any kind of problem, I just have to deal with it.

Is this true and is this an is something I should fix? This is a new car and I plan to drive it for MANY years.

Is this the dealership or an independent mechanic? Is the car still under warranty? If it is the dealer, ask to drive another Matrix to see if it has the same symptoms as your car.

It is an independent mechanic (well, goodyear service station) and no, it is no longer under warranty. This did not happen for the first 25K miles.

Has the vehicle recieved its first front brake job yet or are we still dealing with all the original equipment.

The mechanic inspected your car pronounced it OK and you feel he is BSing you.

With very little effort you will be able to find someone to take your money. Give this Indy. mechanic some credit for being honest.

I brought it in to see if i needed a brake job and the pads and all are fine. But I still have this ‘clunk’. I have no way of gauging if he is being honest or doesn’t want to deal with the problem. I am not trying to speak ill of the guy, I just want to know what and how I can fix this problem. Since I feel it is a problem, I don’t feel he is being totally up front with me.

As a mechanic and former garage owner I would “read” customers and if I felt that a customer displayed a attitude that nothing I would do would please them I would give out “hints” that I did not want to work on their car. My shop, my decision it is within my rights to choose not to deal with certain customers just like they could choose not to deal with me.

I understand. Do you think there is a problem with my brakes that can be fixed? If so, what do I need to do.

If this happens immediately after starting the engine each time, and only after you have begun to move the vehicle, it is possible that you are only hearing the ABS Self-Test. The ABS system is supposed to run a self-test each time that you start the engine, and it is normally heard after driving for…maybe 10 or 20 feet. It can be heard with or without the brakes being applied, and since the ABS pump is located under the hood, it may sound like the noise is coming from the front brakes.

Some cars have a louder, more obvious ABS Self-Test than others. On some cars, it sounds like a clunk or two, on some it may sound more like a vibrating noise, and on others it might not even be noticeable. And, if your previous car(s) did not have ABS, you might not be familiar with this syndrome.

In a case like this, I would suggest taking the car to the dealership’s service department to find out if the ABS self-test is operating and to have them point out to you what it actually sounds like on these cars.

That is what I was going to say. ABS self test.

And, if both of us turn out to be correct about this being simply the ABS Self-Test, I think that this should be a signal to the OP to AVOID that Goodyear place in the future. If their mechanics are not familiar with the ABS Self-Test, that does not say very much for their expertise.

I would also suggest that the OP read his/her Owner’s Manual, as it likely mentions the existence of this normal function of the ABS system each time that the engine is started, and it may even describe the noise that is heard. It’s amazing what you can sometimes learn by reading that little booklet.

Thank you both! Just to clarify, this happens only when the brakes are applied and regardless of the distance. If I can drive 5 miles, it won’t happen until the first time I apply the brakes.

The description of when your sympton appears (after brakes have been applied) and the fact that you have not noticed this sympton until after you have had the car many thousands of miles makes me wonder how anyone could consider this to be a ABS self-test noise.


Compare the NEW description of the symptoms to the OP’s first description of the symptoms. Now that he/she has explained it more clearly, I agree that it is not the ABS self-test.

As we both know, the biggest problem on this board is the way that questions are asked, and how the necessary information is presented–or not presented–by the person asking the question.
It often takes a few tries before a lot of these OPs give us a really good description of what is going on.

And, as to why someone might not have noticed something previously, I can distinctly recall a thread from a few months ago where someone was questioning a “new” noise from his car. After much back and forth on the board, and after the OP visited his Mazda dealership, it did turn out to be the ABS self-test that the OP was hearing. In the aftermath, he came to the conclusion that he was not always very aware of car noises, and that the noise had, in fact, been there all along.

Thank you for your patience as I try to get the explaination as precise as I can. Since it isn’t the ABS self-test, do you have any other ideas as to what I might be looking at. Originally, I was told that it was some space in the piston and couldn’t do anything about it. I hope that is not true. A second or third opinion would be greatly appreciated.

I think you may have a problem, but it may not be the brakes. You should have the whole suspension checked out. I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what it could be, but it could be almost anything under the hood or under the dash that is loose and rocks forward when the brakes are applied, but it should do it every time, not just the first time the brakes are applied. BTW, it could be something in your glove box moving around.

Thanks to the posting by keith, the sound might even be coming from the blend door in the ventilation system. My GMC makes some good clunking noises and I don’t worry about them.

How many miles on the car? Is this clunk new or has been there from day one? Does it clunk in reverse too?

It is definitely not something in the glove box. It is rather new and happens only after I have applied the brakes the first or second time after the car has sat even for a little while and then it does not happen again. It only happens in reverse if that is the direction I am going when I first appy the brakes.