Rear Brakes Noisy But No Money To Fix Car

A customer came in with a complaint of his brakes making a grinding sound on his car. He said that it just started. We get that a lot- “It just started”. Usually that means the brakes have been noisy for quite some time, but they finally now have brought it in for repairs because it got so bad. So I took his car for a short drive. It had to be short since I did not think I was going to be able to stop ! There was a very loud squealing and grinding from what sounded like the rear brakes, and the pedal went all the way to the floor.

So up on the lift it went. Took the wheels off to inspect the brakes. The front looked fine, but the rear drum brakes were gone. The brake shoes were worn down so far that the rivets that hold the pad material on the steel backing were sticking out and grinding into the drums. There were two 1/8 in. grooves in both drums.

This did not JUST START happening. It must have been going on for several hundred miles at least. So the service adviser took the customer out to his car so I could show him all that was damaged and needed replacing. The bill was not going to be that expensive. Just two rear brake drums and a set of brake shoes, plus labor. About $250. So maybe this story does not sound that interesting so far? Well, the best part is this. The customer declined to get his car repaired. The reason he gave was, and I quote “Just leave them, I don’t use the rear brakes that much anyway”. My jaw dropped. At first I was not sure if he was trying to make a joke or not- but he was serious. Now I know that most people don’t understand a lot about how different systems in vehicles work, but really. He actually thought he chooses how much of the front or rear brakes he uses when hitting the pedal? Needless to say we had to convince him that these repairs were badly needed and the car was unsafe to drive, and did get eventually get the repairs done.