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Dealership screwed up brake job


97Jon

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Aug 1, 2020
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Just wanted to throw this out there to see if it seems legitimate.

Bought a 97 Wrangler from a private seller with spongy brakes. I took it to the Jeep dealership to have the brakes checked and to get an inspection so that I could register the car.

They said there was a loose fitting on one of the brake lines and it was leaking brake fluid, they tightened it, flushed the lines and put in new brake fluid. They also said the steering box needed to be replaced and a few other things. Paid the $1020.00 bill and left.

Brakes seemed much better for the first few minutes, then a car pulled out in front of me and I slammed on the brakes and locked up the tires. Thankfully I didn't get into an accident. Immediately after that it seemed a bit harder to get the jeep to accelerate and it felt like the brakes were still being pushed. I put the car into neutral and it came to a stop relatively quickly. At that point I realized that the brakes were messed up and turned around and headed back to the dealership. By the time I got there the front brakes were literally smoking.

The guy who did the repair came out and said "yep they smell hot". He took the jeep back and 45 min later they came out and told me that the entire front brake system needed to be replaced. New pads, calipers, rotors, master cylinder, etc. They initially said total cost was $1850 but they would work with me on the labor and got the cost down to $1500.

I know a lot of people on here do their own work and I could probably do it on my own given the time and youtube help but I had surgery on my wrist earlier this week and I'm out of commission, so doing it on my own is not an option right now.

Basically I was just wondering if anyone else had experienced anything like this or for those who have forgotten more about these cars and brakes then I'll probably ever know, does this seem reasonable? When I asked why the brakes were fine when I left and now it all needs to be replaced, they just said because it is an old jeep and the brakes and lines are old. I know the brakes, rotors, etc are glazed from the heat and are shot and absolutely need to be replaced. Just wondering if I exposed a weakness in the brake system that was eventually going to be an issue or if they messed something up or if they don't feel like chasing down the problem and instead just want to replace everything.

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any advice or information
 

chino1969

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Just wanted to throw this out there to see if it seems legitimate.

Bought a 97 Wrangler from a private seller with spongy brakes. I took it to the Jeep dealership to have the brakes checked and to get an inspection so that I could register the car.

They said there was a loose fitting on one of the brake lines and it was leaking brake fluid, they tightened it, flushed the lines and put in new brake fluid. They also said the steering box needed to be replaced and a few other things. Paid the $1020.00 bill and left.

Brakes seemed much better for the first few minutes, then a car pulled out in front of me and I slammed on the brakes and locked up the tires. Thankfully I didn't get into an accident. Immediately after that it seemed a bit harder to get the jeep to accelerate and it felt like the brakes were still being pushed. I put the car into neutral and it came to a stop relatively quickly. At that point I realized that the brakes were messed up and turned around and headed back to the dealership. By the time I got there the front brakes were literally smoking.

The guy who did the repair came out and said "yep they smell hot". He took the jeep back and 45 min later they came out and told me that the entire front brake system needed to be replaced. New pads, calipers, rotors, master cylinder, etc. They initially said total cost was $1850 but they would work with me on the labor and got the cost down to $1500.

I know a lot of people on here do their own work and I could probably do it on my own given the time and youtube help but I had surgery on my wrist earlier this week and I'm out of commission, so doing it on my own is not an option right now.

Basically I was just wondering if anyone else had experienced anything like this or for those who have forgotten more about these cars and brakes then I'll probably ever know, does this seem reasonable? When I asked why the brakes were fine when I left and now it all needs to be replaced, they just said because it is an old jeep and the brakes and lines are old. I know the brakes, rotors, etc are glazed from the heat and are shot and absolutely need to be replaced. Just wondering if I exposed a weakness in the brake system that was eventually going to be an issue or if they messed something up or if they don't feel like chasing down the problem and instead just want to replace everything.

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any advice or information
I had a caliper piston freeze on my front passenger side. The Jeep pulled to the right and the brake and rim were smoking. Melted the wheel cap it was so hot and turned the rotor blue from the heat. I was able to replace both calipers, rotors and new brake pads for less than $250.00 doing the work myself including a full system bleed. Those prices are way too high and IMO they screwed you. I would never return to them and would challenge the amount they charged. Look elsewhere for quotes.
 

Flivver250

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This is why many folks learn to do the work themselves. Find a mentor, buy some tools and take on these projects yourself. Your entire brake system could probably be replaced for less than a 1000 bucks. Probably what you actually needed could be done for a lot less. Calipers seize up, generally from corrosion. Parts wear out and time deteriorates them. Brake jobs are generally easy, barring rust. The bill you paid covers multiple salaries, rent, insurance, taxes, 401Ks, owner profits, service manager's profit sharing, shop foreman, service advisors, dealer fee's, utilities, political donations, health insurance, mechanic's incentives, coffee for the show room, etc etc etc. I learned laying on my back under a 1956 Cadillac, (with no brake lines or shoes at all and a frozen engine) in the dead of a Vermont winter and a hand full of tools and a MOTORS manual. Mastering a tube flaring kit and wheel cylinder rebuild kit at -25° is a powerful learning aid. Shops are expensive to maintain and high profits are usually how they survive. Also, many shops prefer a scorched earth policy on brakes fearing potential litigation. They replace way more than required just to make sure any future failure is not on them. You probably got all OEM parts which cost way more, paid a flat rate on labor that may have been exaggerated by 3X, and your brakes probably work good now.
 

mushdogs

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May 24, 2019
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389
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Plain. WA
Being out of commission with your wrist is too bad, as honestly doing it yourself isn’t that difficult and would save a fair amount of money. That having been said though, stay away from the dealership, and for gosh sakes stay away from Les Schwab. They’re as big a bunch of pirates as dealerships. Find a local shop with a decent reputation. It’s still going to cost, but you’re likely to get a better, honest assessment of the issue.
 

hardtailpan

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Jul 15, 2020
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81
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Northeast USA
Yeah, if you're going to own one of these you've gotta wrench on it or it will become way too expensive. The wrist thing really sucks. If it's your second vehicle maybe put it up until your healed.
As a price point I did a full rear disk brake job on mine a month ago (rotors, calipers, pads, e-brake shoes, hardware, all three brake hoses) and this cost me less than $250 in parts.
 
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mrblaine

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Quail Valley, CA
Just wanted to throw this out there to see if it seems legitimate.

Bought a 97 Wrangler from a private seller with spongy brakes. I took it to the Jeep dealership to have the brakes checked and to get an inspection so that I could register the car.

They said there was a loose fitting on one of the brake lines and it was leaking brake fluid, they tightened it, flushed the lines and put in new brake fluid. They also said the steering box needed to be replaced and a few other things. Paid the $1020.00 bill and left.

Brakes seemed much better for the first few minutes, then a car pulled out in front of me and I slammed on the brakes and locked up the tires. Thankfully I didn't get into an accident. Immediately after that it seemed a bit harder to get the jeep to accelerate and it felt like the brakes were still being pushed. I put the car into neutral and it came to a stop relatively quickly. At that point I realized that the brakes were messed up and turned around and headed back to the dealership. By the time I got there the front brakes were literally smoking.

The guy who did the repair came out and said "yep they smell hot". He took the jeep back and 45 min later they came out and told me that the entire front brake system needed to be replaced. New pads, calipers, rotors, master cylinder, etc. They initially said total cost was $1850 but they would work with me on the labor and got the cost down to $1500.

I know a lot of people on here do their own work and I could probably do it on my own given the time and youtube help but I had surgery on my wrist earlier this week and I'm out of commission, so doing it on my own is not an option right now.

Basically I was just wondering if anyone else had experienced anything like this or for those who have forgotten more about these cars and brakes then I'll probably ever know, does this seem reasonable? When I asked why the brakes were fine when I left and now it all needs to be replaced, they just said because it is an old jeep and the brakes and lines are old. I know the brakes, rotors, etc are glazed from the heat and are shot and absolutely need to be replaced. Just wondering if I exposed a weakness in the brake system that was eventually going to be an issue or if they messed something up or if they don't feel like chasing down the problem and instead just want to replace everything.

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any advice or information
I see no reason to replace the master other than someone screwing you with a shot gun diagnosis.

It is very common for this issue to show up on the TJ due to no one ever flushing the fluid on a proper schedule. I doubt they did a proper flush but it is possible. Unless you have a crap ton of rust on the exterior of the caliper, they just need to be cleaned out. Most won't do that because calipers are cheap, so they replace them.

If the brake hard lines are not rusted badly, no reason to replace them.

I'd clean out the calipers, install new flex hoses, new pads, new rotors and call it good.
 

JEEPCJTJ

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Just wondering if I exposed a weakness in the brake system that was eventually going to be an issue or if they messed something up or if they don't feel like chasing down the problem and instead just want to replace everything.
Slamming on the brakes and locking up the tires is great when needed to avoid an accident. It also can let you know your caliper(s) need replaced which leads to some other parts needing it to. In my neck of the woods a lot of that would be from rust/corrosion.

I'd be surprised if the entire front brake system needed to be replaced. Pads, calipers, rotors, and possibly a brake line or two? Yes. Master cylinder and etc? Probably not.
 

TJ2

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The problem is that most shops now are using young kids to do all the labor, with one master mechanic (old experience) supervising them because all of these electronic sensors are all new tech and the next gen kids are suited to learn them fast.

I suspected that they are not used to working on dino brakes.
 
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Axeman

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The cost is on the high side, but is what you would expect from a dealer. They use OEM parts and have the better trained techs. It sounds like they tried a quick fix to save you some money and it bit them in the a** when you came back. I imagined they recommended replacing it all the 2nd time around so it would cover any further issues. Being a '97 and a private sale, it sounds like this jeep may have been sitting a while. The caliper sounds frozen, I imagine the pads could be stuck against the rotor with the slides being rusted. If you are going to be DD'ing this, you may want to replace a good amount of the system. The lines would only really need replacing if they are rusted out as others have mentioned. Its odd that there was a "loose" brake line fitting...

As for the flush, I know when I worked at a dealer we used a machine that pressurized the master cylinder with new fluid and flushed all 4 bleeders into a waste tank at the same time. It was an efficient system that really cleaned everything out.
 

dbbd1

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Do you know which one (or all?) of the brakes locked up?

Not getting the rears put back together is a common mistake.
The rectangular-shaped clip, with the cable attached (lower left side of photo) needs to be as shown, not on the other side of the adjuster. I wonder if they got that wrong too.

image.jpeg
 

toximus

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Take a look inside the master cylinder reservoir. If there's junk sitting on the bottom they may be replacing it because they have to take it out and dump it anyway. It's an $80 part, but probably $100 in labor either way and difficult to guarantee that they cleaned the old one out completely.
 

chino1969

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The problem is that most shops now are using young kids to do all the labor, with one master mechanic (old experience) supervising them because all of these electronic sensors are all new tech and the next gen kids are suited to learn them fast.

I suspected that they are not used to working on dino brakes.
Which segues into the topic of bringing shop or technical classes back to high school. Most of today's kids are whizzes when it comes to computers but are clueless when it comes to basic mechanical/electrical skills. Real old school mechanics are hard to find as they have been replaced by module changers. It is one of the reasons I never use a dealer.
 

Apparition

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Which segues into the topic of bringing shop or technical classes back to high school. Most of today's kids are whizzes when it comes to computers but are clueless when it comes to basic mechanical/electrical skills. Real old school mechanics are hard to find as they have been replaced by module changers. It is one of the reasons I never use a dealer.
Likely hard to find a teacher worth a damn
 
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97Jon

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Thank you all for taking your time and the time out of your day to reply. I truly appreciate all the information and stories.

It is not my primary car so I could wait and to it myself but I'm anxious to drive it and I'm not entirely sure how long I'll be out of commission for, so in this case I'm gonna pay to play.

I'm going to be paying a premium for the parts that are getting replaced, I knew that going into this but I've had some bad experiences at local privately owned shops in the past and figured the guys at the dealership were being paid by the hour and had less incentive to make shit up just to pad the bill (at least I hope most dealerships operate that way). I'm OK with them replacing the MC at this point because I'm this far in already, might as well just do it proactively while it's all apart and not have to worry about it failing in the future.

I appreciate the comments about similar problems and that this is not an unreasonable problem for a jeep of this age that was probably not properly maintained. Also, you guys were right, the person who had done the work was about as old as the car and probably not very experienced (although I don't know that for a fact). It was just the front two brakes that were locked up but I appreciate the heads up and information about the rear brakes.

After your responses I feel better about the situation so thanks! I'll be lighter in the purse but fortunately I've lived well within my means and I make decent money so I can afford to get beat up a little at the "stealership" every once an a while. Also I got the jeep for a decent price (considering what they are going for these days) and figured I was going to end up spending 1k to 2k to get it to the point where it was safe enough to let my daughter drive it if she wanted to. If anyone is interested I'll post a picture of the final bill and the jeep when I get it back.

Thanks again. I really appreciate it.

-Jon
 

Lou

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Most dealerships do not pay their technicians hourly. Instead they are paid flat rate and I am one to argue most dealerships do not use standardized repair times but instead allow the technicians to quote repair times.
 
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