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What's a few thousand kays between friends?

My Crewman’s “Extended Car Warranty” rort finished up in January. The whole scheme has been one debacle after another. The continual misrepresentation was one of the reasons I took the advice from the mechanic after a service 8 months ago with a dose of skepticism. He reported that the front brake pads need replacing and only have a couple thousand kays left in them. I declined his offer to “fix ‘em up” and said I’d take care of it. I then promptly did nothing about it.

Six months later, in January 2010, the car was in for its last service under warranty and the situation was reported as quite desperate now - the brakes had “less than a millimetre left” and needed changing right away. I said I’d take care of it and this time I did. The replacement pads were only $70, but it was a bit tough finding some free time at home to fit them. Nervously I continued to drive the car for another couple of months, listening intently for the telltale scraping sound of extinguished pads. No sign became apparent. I thought the mechanic was probably being a bit conservative, but with less than a millimetre to go I didn’t want to push it.

Yesterday I finally had a chance to change the pads.

The first suspicious moment came after I had undone all the wheel nuts on the front right wheel and found that the rim was stuck in some rust on the wheel hub. It took some wiggling to free the wheel from the car. Bit strange, given that the rim is alloy and it should have been removed in the service two months ago…

Rusty hub

With the wheel removed it was on to the brake caliper housing bolts. I could not budge them with my socket ratchet so grabbed the long torque wrench instead. The bolts did not release until about 190Nm! I think the spec is around 80Nm. Certainly not a knuckle busting 190Nm anyway. Either someone has gone nuts doing them up last time or could it be…. they were never taken off during servicing! Admittedly, the mechanics may have some method of measuring the pads without removing the calipers, so I would concede the benefit of the doubt at this stage…

Torqued up!

There was no denying the next stage of the inspection. The calipers were off and the pads exposed. You could blame the rusty hub on the coastal weather, you could blame the over-torqued bolts on manufacturing procedure, but there’s no argument about how long a millimetre is.

Remaining pad depth.

According to the mechanic, the pads had “less than a millimetre left” in January. Well blow me down, they appear to have grown over two millimetres in two months! For comparison, take a look at a new pad:

New pad depth.

The old pads measure a bit over 3mm and the new pads measure around 8mm. Sure, it wont hurt to replace them, but they clearly have some life left! And the mechanic would have been happy to replace them 8 months ago. How many other customers are they replacing pads for at half their service life? How many people would actually check?

It’s a bloody rort, and a sad state of affairs when you can’t trust your mechanic. If you have a trustworthy mechanic, value them, because there’s a lot of dodgy operators out there. Servicing will be done at my place from now on.


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Interesting story, my friend. I like the photos, especially the one with your foot in the background. Oh, thanks for the new word, "rort".

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