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Old 07-20-2009, 04:54 PM   #1
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Default Car trouble, not sure how to proceed

Let me start by saying I know diddly about cars. I can do the very basics, but that is it. So here is my problem:

I drive a '97 Infiniti I30. Love it. 157k on it. Engine and everything else runs great as far as I can tell. I have maintained it very well. Personally, I think I could get the engine past 200k. However, I recently had my car checked out and apparently my rear brakes are effed up. The guy told me that my calipers were out of line and it is causing my brake pads to wear down quicker than they should. My left rear pad is at 1/32 while my right is at 8/32. I told this to my brother and he said that didn't even make sense, but that is what they told me. The solution? A complete brake overhaul topping $800. I know that $800 is not a magnificent amount of money, but the car is probably only worth about $2,000 at this point, and I need a couple of tires too, so to fix this issue, I would be dropping about a grand on a car worth about two grand. I can't help but wonder if it is even worth it. I have looked at cars, and have found some I like, and the payments would certainly not break the bank, but I enjoy not having a car payment. Also, my car wont need to pass inspection for about another year.

So...what should I do? I think my first step is to take it to another mechanic and see if I can get it done cheaper. If I can get the work done for say, $500, then I probably just do it and keep driving the car for a while. But if I can't, maybe I just put a new pad on and drive it until it needs to be inspected again? Or should I just say screw all that work and just go out and get the new car?

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Old 07-20-2009, 04:56 PM   #2
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I'd get another opinion before I plan anything. And don't tell the mechanic you know "diddly" about cars.

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Old 07-20-2009, 04:59 PM   #3
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That vehicle probably has another 100k miles left in it.

Keep the car, spend the money on brew gear.

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Old 07-20-2009, 05:01 PM   #4
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Why not put new pads on, and live with the uneven wear?

Not absolutely pretty buy works in your case.

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Old 07-20-2009, 05:03 PM   #5
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Sounds fishy to me. Breaks seem to be the biggest mechanic robbery on the planet. Your rear breaks do very little actual breaking. The front does most of the work. Rear brakes can last 3 or 4 times as long as front breaks. If it was me, I'd just take them apart and change the breaks myself. But if you aren't confident in that (drum breaks are a bit tricky), I'd take it to another mechanic and tell him you want new pads put on your rear breaks. Don't tell him anything else... see what happens.

"Calipers out of line" doesn't sound right. I've taken plenty of drum breaks apart. I've never heard of that. But I'm not a professional mechanic either. But your drum break shoes will wear differently. The front shoe (on the rear brakes) will always be worn more than the rear shoe. Even if the calipers really are "out of line", I wouldn't worry about it. Rear breaks last 50,000 miles or more.

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Old 07-20-2009, 05:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menschmaschine View Post
I'd take it to another mechanic and tell him you want new pads put on your rear breaks. Don't tell him anything else... see what happens.
That actually sounds like a good idea. What is the worst that could happen? He calls and says he can't do it? So what? Best case scenario he puts a new pad on, doesnt cost me much and I can keep on rolling at least until inspection. Thanks.

Oh, and yeah I know not to tell a mechanic I don't know anything about cars
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Old 07-20-2009, 05:21 PM   #7
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Sounds like hooey to me. I think they are 4 wheel disc, haven't heard the brake piston in drums called calipers. Caliper usually implies squeezing something.

there are many reasons why one brake would wear faster than the other like rotor wear or deviances in pad quality from pad to pad, hydraulics, etc etc. If your pads are getting thin then just have them replaced, expect to replace the rotors too if they are original. Doing it your self is pretty easy and a good way to start learning about vehicle mechanics.
So... RWDAHB and drive that sucker into the ground.

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Old 07-20-2009, 05:42 PM   #8
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First, rear DISC brakes can have caliper problems. Never heard of a caliper being out of line or alignment, or whatever. They could be out of round, which would cause vibration when stopping. They could be "thin", which means new rotors.

Either way, if you do this yourself, you could probably save hundreds. Even if it has anti-lock, which can be "tricky", it's worth looking into a second opinion.

My Durango has nearly 200,000 miles. I don't see any reason why your car should not make that easily, if it's been well cared for.

Also, keep in mind that rotors are a wear item. eventually they will wear out. However, pads are very cheap and super easy to replace. Even if you do nothing with the rotors you could change the pads once every year or so and keep driving it.

If is was me, I'd ask around for reputable shops in the area and get a second opinion. Nearly eveyrone has good and bad stories about car shops.

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Old 07-20-2009, 05:48 PM   #9
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replace your breaks yourself, all you need is a jack, a C-Clamp, and a couple of wrenchs. It takes about an hour each side if you aren't sure exactly what you are doing. As someone else said, live with the uneven wear, if that is really what is happening.

$800 for a complete break overhaul is probably a mechanic trying to rip u off. Google has nothing on "Break calipers out of line" Even if you replace the pads and rotors yourself, you probably won't spend more than $150 for the rear breaks, and odds are your rotors just need to be turned.

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Old 07-20-2009, 05:52 PM   #10
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That sounds like a LOT, even for a complete brake replacement. We just replaced the rotors (and pads, of course) on the Element, and the total for the job (being done at the dealer) was about half what you're being quoted.

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