I’m all for people fixing their cars themselves. You can save a lot of money by not taking your car to a shop, but sometimes that doesn’t work out very well. I don’t know if this customer had done their brakes themselves or taken them to a shop, but there were three different mistakes I found on this one car.
The car came into my shop because the left front caliper seemed to be seized. When I went to check it, I found that the brake hose had gotten twisted, and because it was pulled tight and kinked with the caliper on, the fluid couldn’t return when the brake pedal was released, causing the brakes to be stuck. When you remove and reinstall a caliper, make sure you haven’t spun it around and twisted the hose in a way that will cause problems like this.
The second issue on this car came from whoever doing the brakes only changing out the pads, and not the rotors. We usually refer to this as “pad slapping” the car. If your rotors are in good shape, this isn’t a problem. However, it was clear that these pads had gotten worn down all the way to metal on metal and had begun to grind away at the rotor. This rotor definitely needs replacing, but instead it was just pad slapped.
The final problem I saw with the brakes on this car was on the rear calipers. These are the style with the parking brake mechanism inside them, and to push the pistons in to install new pads, you need to use a special tool to screw the piston back into the caliper. A lot of times the piston boot will stick and get twisted like this if you aren’t careful. I usually try to pull the boot back a tiny bit all the way around just to make sure it’s not stuck before I turn the piston in. This isn’t necessarily a big problem, but if you’re not careful this could tear the boot, letting water in and rusting up the system.
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