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#1
Old 11-12-2008, 04:16 PM
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Car Guys: Brake Fluid Flush? Fuel Injector Flush?

The Toyota dealer just called (I'm in for a routine oil change, tire rotation and fluid service), and said that:

1. The rear brakes are down to 10% and need to be replaced ($398).
2. The brake fluid is a little cloudy, and he recommends a full brake fluid flush ($139).
3. They noticed a little carbon near the fuel injectors, and he recommends a fuel injection system flush ($229).

Does this seem reasonable? The rear brakes, OK, but the rest of it sounds a bit like changing the air in the tires. Automotive experts, what say you?
#2
Old 11-12-2008, 04:30 PM
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First, how many miles on the car?

$400 for rear brakes? If that is the pads only, it's a terrible price.

$140 for brake fluid flush seems very high, although it's possible you need the work. The likes of Meineke can do it for much cheaper.

"Fuel injection system flush" I have never heard of, and it sounds like a ripoff.
#3
Old 11-12-2008, 04:34 PM
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The fuel injector flush really sounds like you're being oversold something.
Do you have drivability problems at all?
Check engine light on?

"Noticed some carbon?"

What model/year is the vehicle?
#4
Old 11-12-2008, 04:34 PM
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Thanks.
35,000 miles on the car. Toyota Landcruiser. No problems, no check engine light.

Last edited by shelbo; 11-12-2008 at 04:35 PM.
#5
Old 11-12-2008, 04:38 PM
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I'm calling rip off on everything except the brakes, and while you may need them, at that price, I'm calling that a rip off too unless you live on a mountain, race your car, or do something else causing huge amounts of wear to the brakes where you have somehow destroyed your rotors too (highly doubtful). The brake job should cost half or maybe 2/3 that amount.
#6
Old 11-12-2008, 04:42 PM
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For those prices they better fill up your blinker fluid and replace your flux capacitor while they're at it.
#7
Old 11-12-2008, 04:45 PM
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Landcruiser changes things a bit. I'm sure parts for that are more expensive than Camry.

No way you need brake fluid at 35k.

If you aren't noticing squealing or shuddering when you brake, I wouldn't worry about the pads/rotors either.

I should add, dealers in general and Toyota dealers in particular have the reputation of being crooks. I would take the car to an independent mechanic if you need brake work.

Last edited by awldune; 11-12-2008 at 04:47 PM.
#8
Old 11-12-2008, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by masterofnone View Post
For those prices they better fill up your blinker fluid and replace your flux capacitor while they're at it.
don't forget replacing the muffler bearings...
#9
Old 11-12-2008, 04:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelbo
3. They noticed a little carbon near the fuel injectors, and he recommends a fuel injection system flush ($229).
Unless they pulled an injector, how would they be able to "notice" anything near them? And, I've never heard of it being part of the procedure for an oil change to pull injectors. AFAIK, an injector "flush" can be little more than pouring in a bottle of Techron - something that happens to come for free with every tank of gas from Chevron.

Unless you also need new rear brake rotors, $398 is a crazy price. Sounds like they're trying to sell you a box of muffler bearings.

Needing new brake pads at 35,000 miles is not particularly unusual, at least.
#10
Old 11-12-2008, 04:59 PM
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1.) Most rear brake linings last longer than that, but it is possible that they are worn that much. However, the price sounds way out of line for what would normally be needed at that mileage. I'd be shocked if the rotors need to be replaced, and seriously doubt they need to be machined. (The current advice from vehicle manufacturers is to resurface rotors only if they have deep scoring or warpage, both of which are unlikely at only 35K miles.) It's a virtual certainty the calipers are okay, likewise any other components of the rear brakes. I smell overselling.

2.) Brake fluid flushing is a legitimate maintenance procedure, and the price isn't out of line for a full flush including ABS components. Some manufacturers list it on the maintenance schedule at 30K miles, some at 60K, some just don't list it (I didn't see it for yours). It's not a bad idea to flush it at this time, but then again I wouldn't lose sleep over waiting until 60K.

3.) A fuel injection flush is a legitimate procedure, but not all vehicles have a need for it, especially at that low a mileage. I particularly question the notion of "seeing a little carbon near the fuel injectors." Without doing significant disassembly, there's no way to get a look at anything near the injectors. It is possible to see carbon build-up on the throttle body, but that's a different animal - if it needs cleaning, it's done at the throttle body itself, and has nothing to do with the injectors or any part that gasoline goes through. I smell a lie.

My recommendation is to pass on all of these at this time, and get a second opinion at a reputable independent shop.
#11
Old 11-12-2008, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masterofnone View Post
For those prices they better fill up your blinker fluid and replace your flux capacitor while they're at it.
...and along with the brake shoes, replace the brake socks and laces, too.
#12
Old 11-12-2008, 05:21 PM
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This, of course, is all assuming that you're in the US. Are you?
#13
Old 11-12-2008, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
Without doing significant disassembly, there's no way to get a look at anything near the injectors. It is possible to see carbon build-up on the throttle body, but that's a different animal - if it needs cleaning, it's done at the throttle body itself, and has nothing to do with the injectors or any part that gasoline goes through. I smell a lie.
Call them on it. Call them back and say "Oh my, you did? On the fuel injectors? Are you sure? The fuel injectors? So you're saying that I bring my truck in for an oil change and you dissassembled the engine?!?! Without calling first? You've got to be kidding me? I want the service manager on the phone, right now.
#14
Old 11-12-2008, 05:49 PM
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Thanks all.
About what I thought.
#15
Old 11-12-2008, 05:55 PM
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I got my brake lines "flushed" for $40 at my local brake shop.

I can't comment on the fuel injector thing although Wal-mart did some sort of injector "clean out" for $25, I think, the last time I got my oil changed.
#16
Old 11-12-2008, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Belrix View Post
I got my brake lines "flushed" for $40 at my local brake shop.

I can't comment on the fuel injector thing although Wal-mart did some sort of injector "clean out" for $25, I think, the last time I got my oil changed.
That's a *little* more reasonable.
$10 worth of Techron, $15 labor to pour it into your tank...
#17
Old 11-12-2008, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belrix View Post
I can't comment on the fuel injector thing although Wal-mart did some sort of injector "clean out" for $25, I think, the last time I got my oil changed.
They poured a $4 bottle of STP fuel injector cleaner into your gas tank.
#18
Old 11-12-2008, 07:12 PM
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Just a quick look at partsamerica.com...

Rear brake pads for a Land Cruiser (I'm assuming about a 2004) start at $29.95 for the organic pads, all the way up to $109.99 for ceramic pads, with a bunch of in-between options. I'm guessing they all have rear disc brakes since there is no mention of shoes anywhere.

At 35,000 miles, I can't imagine that the rear brakes would be worn enough to require turning or replacement of a rotor....actually, partsamerica.com doesn't list rear rotors, so they may be a dealer-only item. But the front rotors are as cheap as $38 each. Most auto parts stores will resurface a rotor for $5 to $10.

I've replaced disc brake pads on probably 20 different vehicles and not one of them required any special tools...usually a box wrench or allen wrench and a c-clamp to compress the piston. The job can be done in about 15 minutes by anyone who's done it before. So the labor couldn't possibly be very much. If you have to pull the rotor, it gets a little messy with the greasy wheel bearings, etc, and can take longer. If you somehow force air into the brake lines, it can get a little complicated, but that usually doesn't happen (see the next paragraph about bleeding/flushing the lines). The calipers might have to be rebuilt or replaced or the brake lines may need replacement, but not likely at 35,000 miles.

Flushing the brake lines involves opening the bleed valves and forcing clean brake fluid through the system. The only part involved is a couple of quarts of brake fluid.

Find a reputable local mechanic and you'll find a much better price (and you'll probably also find that none of the work is necessary).
#19
Old 11-12-2008, 07:16 PM
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I think people tend to be a bit paranoid about brake rotors. . Twice (different vehicles) I've gone to replace the pads and noticed some scoring, but decided not to have the rotors turned. I replaced the pads and the brakes worked just fine.
#20
Old 11-12-2008, 07:36 PM
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Even though I always asked my Toyota dealer to do just the manufacturer-recommended service items (the "dealer-recommended service" is just upsell, according to a friend in the trade) I got fed up with the number of times they suggested various flushes and such. I started keeping a record so that when they called me I could point out that they did that only 15,000 miles ago. So I fired them and I now go to a local mechanic. They have no service recommendations - they change the oil and check out the car and tell me what needs doing. It was such a refreshing change to get a call telling me my car was ready (no extra work needed) rather than the hundreds of dollars of extra work that the dealer would call with.
#21
Old 11-12-2008, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatriotGrrrl View Post
I think people tend to be a bit paranoid about brake rotors.
Can't imagine why....
#22
Old 11-12-2008, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluricaun View Post
Call them on it. Call them back and say "Oh my, you did? On the fuel injectors? Are you sure? The fuel injectors? So you're saying that I bring my truck in for an oil change and you dissassembled the engine?!?! Without calling first? You've got to be kidding me? I want the service manager on the phone, right now.
Personally, I would have just said "Really? Can you show me?" I'd think that would get an interesting reaction from them, maybe along the lines of "Ummm...errr"
#23
Old 11-13-2008, 12:20 AM
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To echo What Gary T said
Since the brakes are listed as being at 10% I doubt there has been any destruction of the rotors. So unless there is a noise complaint, or a pulsation in the brake pedal, (not the steering wheel, that would be front brakes) I can see no reason to replace the rotors. I think Toyota dealers turn rotors, rather than replace them.
But I can tell you that a normal pad replacement at my shop runs about $200 for the rears, and I can guarantee that pads for a Toyota are way less expensive than Volvo ones.
Turning the rotors would add some to that, but probably not that much, for sure less than $100.
A full pad and rotor replacement for the rear of a Volvo would run about $400. Again the parts are about 1/2 as much for a Toyota, so figure about $300 total parts and labor. If you are really interested, I can look up exact prices in the AM.

Brake fluid flushes are a good idea. Brake fluid absorbs water. Water does two bad things, first off it lowers the boiling point of the brake fluid (A very bad thing). If your brake fluid boils due to using the brakes a bunch, you will have no brakes.
The second bad thing is the water attacks the insides of the braking system. If we are talking a steel cylinder, it causes rust. If aluminum, it pits through the anodizing. Either way, it can cause leaks that will require parts replacements.
Volvo for example suggests brake fluid flush at 30K or 37.5K (depending on the year) and more often if you live in humid areas, or in the mountains. A BFF is under $90 at our shop.
Fuel injector flushes are way way oversold. A modern car with 35K should not need an injector cleaning. We do them on major services on older cars. We did one last week on a 1989 car with 270,000 miles on it. A proper injector flush is not a bottle of Techron in the tank. We disable the fuel pump and use air pressure to supply the concentrated cleaner directly to the injectors as we run the engine. So the system runs on straight cleaner. Price? Not sure, but less than $200
A can of the industrial strength cleaner we can dump in your tank runs about $15. No labor.
I would contact the dealer and ask what exactly they are doing to the brakes for that price. (new rotors, turn rotors etc)
I would go with the brake fluid flush
I would tell them no way in hell on the injector flush.
[shameless plug] Don't know where you are located, but if you are in LA, I would be happy to do the job [/sp]
#24
Old 11-13-2008, 03:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Absolute View Post
Can't imagine why....
I'm more paranoid about wheel nuts that aren't torqued down. Just saw a guy on the highway lose a wheel because all 5 studs snapped off.
#25
Old 11-13-2008, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelbo View Post
The Toyota dealer just called (I'm in for a routine oil change, tire rotation and fluid service), and said that:

1. The rear brakes are down to 10% and need to be replaced ($398).
2. The brake fluid is a little cloudy, and he recommends a full brake fluid flush ($139).
3. They noticed a little carbon near the fuel injectors, and he recommends a fuel injection system flush ($229).

Does this seem reasonable? The rear brakes, OK, but the rest of it sounds a bit like changing the air in the tires. Automotive experts, what say you?
Great job Gary and Rick, just a couple of things to add..

1.) Most of your braking is done by the front brakes as a result, rear disk calipers and rotors are notorious for rusting up especially in harsher climates with snow and salt so this could account for the brakes needing replacement.
Have the front been replaced before? The uneven wear between your front and back brakes, should be a concern, unless you were to drive with your parking brake on.
Your brakes are the most important component of the car so replace them.
Changing the pads regularly will save you a fortune on rotors, don't wait till they squeak and don't rely on the wear indicators.

2.) Brake fluid is always a little cloudy, but how bad is it? I would be concerned if there were discoloration or particulate which would indicate contamination or corrosion, etc..

3.) Actually, it is possible to view carbon build-up on the injectors, etc. via a fibre optic scope, but a little carbon after 35 000 miles is not something to worry about.
If it bothers you try a fuel additive.

I'm assuming this is a warranty visit, or why would anyone go to a dealer for repairs, so what you need to know is that they are not making any money off the service warranty so they look for other problems which are not covered.
I would be wary of a mechanical who describes things as "a little cloudy" or "a little carbon" because he's being vague.
Have your mechanic show you the problems they find, then ask why and how it occurred, how to fix it and how you might prevent it, especially if the car is under warranty. It's your vehicle and your money so you have a right to know.
#26
Old 11-13-2008, 10:18 AM
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I use this one...

"Sir, we found the problem, there seems to be a loose nut behind the wheel."
#27
Old 11-13-2008, 10:43 AM
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Regarding injector cleaning; modern gasoline is incredibly clean-I have replaced several fuel filters, and NEVER found any gunk or residue in them. I suspect the injector cleaning stuff doesn't do a whole lot-except make money for the shop.
What i don't understand; nobody turns brake rotors anymore-is it cheaper just to replace them? is suspect that turning a rotor takes up to 1 hour-in that time a mechanic can change 4 sets of rotors.
#28
Old 11-13-2008, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c
What i don't understand; nobody turns brake rotors anymore-is it cheaper just to replace them? is suspect that turning a rotor takes up to 1 hour-in that time a mechanic can change 4 sets of rotors.
The trend seems to be to equip cars with thinner rotors that can't handle being turned. Less iron = cheaper to make.

Same thing's happening with floors - a lot of "hardwood" flooring now is veneer on something else. The days of being able to sand 1/8" off the boards to refinish a floor are gone, just as the days of being able to peel a tenth off a scored rotor are gone.
#29
Old 11-13-2008, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Regarding injector cleaning; modern gasoline is incredibly clean-I have replaced several fuel filters, and NEVER found any gunk or residue in them. I suspect the injector cleaning stuff doesn't do a whole lot-except make money for the shop.
What i don't understand; nobody turns brake rotors anymore-is it cheaper just to replace them? is suspect that turning a rotor takes up to 1 hour-in that time a mechanic can change 4 sets of rotors.
It's not gunk in unburned fuel, AFAIK; it's build-up of the byproducts of combustion.
#30
Old 11-13-2008, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Sparky812 View Post
Great job Gary and Rick, just a couple of things to add..

1.) Most of your braking is done by the front brakes as a result, rear disk calipers and rotors are notorious for rusting up especially in harsher climates with snow and salt so this could account for the brakes needing replacement.
Have the front been replaced before? The uneven wear between your front and back brakes, should be a concern, unless you were to drive with your parking brake on.
Your brakes are the most important component of the car so replace them.
Changing the pads regularly will save you a fortune on rotors, don't wait till they squeak and don't rely on the wear indicators.
It is quite normal for front and rear pads to wear at different rates and this is not a cause for concern. Rusting or sticking calipers is a cause for concern, and might account for the price, but I would expect a service adviser to mention this, if this were the case.

Quote:
2.) Brake fluid is always a little cloudy, but how bad is it? I would be concerned if there were discoloration or particulate which would indicate contamination or corrosion, etc..
Usually after 30 K or so the fluid is fairly discolored, and may show some debris in the master cylinder.

Quote:
3.) Actually, it is possible to view carbon build-up on the injectors, etc. via a fibre optic scope, but a little carbon after 35 000 miles is not something to worry about.
If it bothers you try a fuel additive.
While it is possible to view the injectors, it would require removal of the injectors ( I got $5 that says they didn't) or the use of a borescope, which most guys don't own.

Quote:
I'm assuming this is a warranty visit, or why would anyone go to a dealer for repairs, so what you need to know is that they are not making any money off the service warranty so they look for other problems which are not covered.
I would be wary of a mechanical who describes things as "a little cloudy" or "a little carbon" because he's being vague.
Have your mechanic show you the problems they find, then ask why and how it occurred, how to fix it and how you might prevent it, especially if the car is under warranty. It's your vehicle and your money so you have a right to know.
While I agree with most of your statement, I would like to point out that dealers do make money on warranty repairs. They make money on both parts and labor. Maybe not as much as they do on customer pay work, but they make money nonetheless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparky812 View Post
I use this one...

"Sir, we found the problem, there seems to be a loose nut behind the wheel."
Exactly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Regarding injector cleaning; modern gasoline is incredibly clean-I have replaced several fuel filters, and NEVER found any gunk or residue in them. I suspect the injector cleaning stuff doesn't do a whole lot-except make money for the shop.
What i don't understand; nobody turns brake rotors anymore-is it cheaper just to replace them? is suspect that turning a rotor takes up to 1 hour-in that time a mechanic can change 4 sets of rotors.
Injector cleaning is not to remove dirt from the fuel, it removes carbon and other deposits from the injectors themselves. Back in the mid 1980's gasoline was being reformulated and as a result, injectors were getting plugged, and deposits were being left on the intake valves and intake tracks of cars. Injector cleaning on those cars helped a bunch. But that was 20+ years ago, and injector and gasoline technology has marched on. As I said before, I would not expect a modern car with 35K to need an injector clean.
As far as rotors go, in many cases, the rotor turning machines cannot machine the rotors to a close enough tolerance, and you can wind up installing a brake vibration where not existed before. From both a customer satisfaction, and profit point of view, it makes more sense just to leave them alone until it is time and then replace them.
#31
Old 11-13-2008, 12:08 PM
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FYI, if you actually have concerns about carbon building up, just run to your local store and get a container of the high-concentration Chevron Techron stuff.
Just pour one bottle in per oil change, and the wheels will fall off before you get enough carbon build-up to require a mechanic's attention.
#32
Old 11-13-2008, 12:25 PM
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A little further note on rotors:

Brake rotors should be repaced or machined if there is deep scoring (over 0.060"), warpage, or a surface problem such as significant rust (usually from sitting for a long time) or severe glazing (often accompanied by a blue color, from severe use). Machining is only advisable if there's enough thickness left to accomodate it, and even then there's a potential problem from the rotors being thinner, particularly if they're left close to the minimum spec. Depending on the vehicle and its use pattern (mountain driving and towing are the main concerns), machining may not be a good option even if the rotors would still maintain the minimum thickness. The official recommendation from most (all?) vehicle manufacturers nowadays is to not machine or replace the rotors if they only show normal wear.

Disc brake systems have an inherent tendency to make annoying noise, most commonly a squealing during application. Among the many factors that contribute to this is the surface texture of the rotors. Field experience showed that replacing or machining the rotors was often necessary to prevent noise, and many shops insisted on doing so when replacing pads so as not to have customer complaints. However, over the last several years there have been advancements in pad material that reduce or eliminate the occurence of noise with a non-machined rotor. Now the better shops tend to insist on using high-quality pads while not doing anything with the rotors.

I have been using Wagner ThermoQuiet brake pads for several years and have not had one noise problem with them. Of course, I also do the other things known to help minimize noise, such as cleaning and lubing the metal-to-metal conact points. The additional cost of these pads is less than the additional cost to machine (or replace) the rotors, and the rotors last longer because they're not being thinned down by maching. The pads also last longer and stop better than the lower quality ones. In the great majority of cases, it's in the customer's best interests to use premium pads and NOT machine the rotors unless they really need it.
#33
Old 11-13-2008, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotpasswords View Post
The trend seems to be to equip cars with thinner rotors that can't handle being turned. Less iron = cheaper to make.

Same thing's happening with floors - a lot of "hardwood" flooring now is veneer on something else. The days of being able to sand 1/8" off the boards to refinish a floor are gone, just as the days of being able to peel a tenth off a scored rotor are gone.
I have a beef with this sort of thinking (engineered floors are worse than solid floors), or that thinner rotors are worse than thicker rotors (the rotors can't be machined).

As to flooring: an engineered hardwood floor with a veneer and a modern factory-applied polyurethane finish is more stable than an solid wood floor, and will probably outlive the purchaser. It's not about the manufacturer cheaping out, it's about the manufacturer producing a sensible product that keeps its company solvent and makes good financial sense for the company, the seller, the installer, the purchaser and their investment. It makes more sense for most people to buy an engineered wood floor!

As to thinner rotors: modern cars are built to much better tolerances, and when brake rotors are sized properly and maintenance schedules are maintained, most people will realize that they never have rotor issue. So, why throw rotors that can be machined onto every car? It doesn't make sense to have the cost incurred by everyone so that some people can have their rotors turned. Give me the lighter, better designed brake system and I will have my brakes done properly and call it a day.
#34
Old 11-13-2008, 12:58 PM
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OOO land bruiser parts are spendy!
I just looked online at one of my parts sources
Rear pads list at $75.00 (MSRP)
Rear rotors list at $125 each
The time guide shows pad replacement at 1.1 hours, and add 1.4 hours for rotors. Multiply these numbers by the driveway labor rate.
#35
Old 11-13-2008, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
It is quite normal for front and rear pads to wear at different rates and this is not a cause for concern. Rusting or sticking calipers is a cause for concern, and might account for the price, but I would expect a service adviser to mention this, if this were the case.
I disagree slightly, the rear brake pads wearing down to %10 before the front is irregular and may be a concern, but could be caused by a number a factors such as rusty calipers or rotors.

Quote:
Usually after 30 K or so the fluid is fairly discolored, and may show some debris in the master cylinder.
Yes, I know but my point was that a diagnosis of "a little cloudy" does not indicate either or warrant a brake fluid flush.

Quote:
While it is possible to view the injectors, it would require removal of the injectors ( I got $5 that says they didn't) or the use of a borescope, which most guys don't own.
I have a borescope but to tell you the truth it doesn't come out much and I wouldn't take your bet.
My guess is they plugged in, and got a lean fuel code, and diagnosed the injectors as being dirty.

Quote:
While I agree with most of your statement, I would like to point out that dealers do make money on warranty repairs. They make money on both parts and labor. Maybe not as much as they do on customer pay work, but they make money nonetheless.
OK, I was just simplifying things.

Quote:
As far as rotors go, in many cases, the rotor turning machines cannot machine the rotors to a close enough tolerance, and you can wind up installing a brake vibration where not existed before. From both a customer satisfaction, and profit point of view, it makes more sense just to leave them alone until it is time and then replace them.
This was my understanding as well.
#36
Old 11-13-2008, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster
I have a beef with this sort of thinking (engineered floors are worse than solid floors), or that thinner rotors are worse than thicker rotors (the rotors can't be machined).
I never said engineered flooring or thinner rotors were bad. Just that both of them are designed in such a way that resurfacing is not feasible.
#37
Old 11-13-2008, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Sparky812 View Post
I disagree slightly, the rear brake pads wearing down to %10 before the front is irregular and may be a concern, but could be caused by a number a factors such as rusty calipers or rotors.
Depends on the car and the driver, and how the system is engineered. I know of some systems where if the brakes are applied lightly, the rears do a higher percentage of the work, and if the brakes are applied harder, the front do more of the work. Customers that drive very, very gently, can actually wear the rears out first, as the front are hardly being used.
I don't know how long land bruiser front generally last, but it would not surprise me if they have been changed once.
#38
Old 11-13-2008, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotpasswords View Post
I never said engineered flooring or thinner rotors were bad. Just that both of them are designed in such a way that resurfacing is not feasible.
Yeah, I jumped on you. Sorry. I am just way to used to the 'they don't make 'em like they used to' argument from people, which is usually a slight against modern things. Yeah, they don't make 'em like they used to, they make 'em a lot better now (especially cars!).
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