“When should I get new brakes?”

brake pad wear indicator light

It’s safe to say that the brake system is one of the most serviced systems in your vehicle. Between regular adjustments, periodic inspections,  Brake Fluid Flushes (yes this is a real thing), and pad replacement the average driver can expect to be performing some type of maintenance or inspection on their Brakes about once per year. With that said, one of the most askbrake pad wear indicator lighted questions is “When should I get new brakes?”. The next question is “How much for new brakes?”. Today I’m going to take a few minutes to address both of those questions so that you have a better
understanding of what’s involved and why.

“How do I know if I need a brake job?”

A lot of new cars come with a Brake Pad Wear Sensor. This is a sensor that is located inside the brake pad that gets cut when the brakes wear down causing the wear light to come on. When the light comes on, you’re ready for brakes. Simple! The most common way to know you are due for a Brake Job is during periodic inspections. These inspections are performed regularly when you come in for normal Scheduled Maintenance. Aside from simply changing the oil and filter we perform a visual inspection of roughly 55 key areas on your vehicle. From here we can tell you pretty decisively what will need to be replaced and more importantly, when.

Click here for more information on Brakes and different types of Brake Systems.

“How much for a brake job?”

When the brake pads wear down most cars simply need Brake Pads (or Brake Shoes, read more about this here) and to either machine the Brake Rotors (shave them down just a little to get a nice clean and true surface for the Brake Pad to contact when stopping) or replace them. When everything is being replaced there are a few other things that go into ensuring that the brakes will function as designed for many years to come that are generally overlooked when someone replaces brakes on their own or at a place advertising  an “$89 Lifetime Brake Job”…..

The thing that’s most commonly overlooked is part quality. Yes, you can probably get brake pads for your Mercedes for $29, but when they literally fall apart or fail in a few weeks or months you’ll be replacing them again and again and again. We only use top quality parts. If I wouldn’t use it on my car I’m not putting it on your car, there’s really no other way to say it.

The second most overlooked part  to a Brake Job is actually one of the most simple pieces and we see it every single day. It’s lack of lubrication on the contact points (not to be confused with friction contact points). Friction Contact points are where the Brake Pad contacts the rotor. The brakes create friction so you don’t want any lubrication there. Contact points are anywhere that the Brake Pad touches the caliper or the bracket where the pad sits. The brake pads are constantly moving when braking, sliding back and forth (good movement). Without proper lubrication the pads will eventually stick in the bracket and when you release the brake pedal the pads stay rubbing on the rotor. This causes the brakes to wear out sooner, pulsate, or make noise. You also want to have all of the slides that go into the caliper bracket removed, cleaned, and lubricated. We do all of this during every single brake job as well as a bunch of other things so that you don’t have to worry about any issues until you need your next set in 30-40,000+ miles.

Price for brakes

A few months back a woman called for the first time. She said her regular mechanic didn’t have the “right tools” to do her front brake job (literally any basic set of tools has about everything you brake jobneed). I asked her what she was told needed to be replaced so I could properly quote the job. She told me that the brakes aren’t making noise, need to be replaced soon, and pads and rotors will suffice. She also said that her regular mechanic had been properly servicing and inspecting the vehicle regularly. I explained the importance of properly inspecting the brake system so we could be sure the price we give includes each and every single thing she will need to make sure that everything that needs to be replaced gets replaced. She insisted that she only needed “Pads and Rotors” then began to get pretty upset that I wouldn’t just give her a price. Since I didn’t know the exact brake system on the vehicle (there were 3 choices for this vehicle), I gave her a general quote of “$350-$500 if it’s just pads and rotors” then stressed the purpose of the brake inspection again. Big mistake!!

She scheduled the appointment based on the price that I gave her. When she came in the next day we saw that the brakes not only had been grinding for quite a while (months at minimum, take a look for yourself) but the calipers were also damaged beyond repair because she wore completely through the brake pads and the only thing stopping her were the caliper pistons pressing on the rotors (You can see from the pictures that they’re completely destroyed). Since there was no brake fluid in the system there was also no brake pedal, when you pushed it with your foot it just went to the floor. The car had to be stopped with the emergency brake. Her rear brakes were also grinding. In short she needed both Front Calipers, Front Brake Pads, Front Brake Rotors, Rear Brake Pads, and Rear Brake Rotors. Then the entire system needed to be purged of any air (bled). So I explained it to her and showed her. Clearly since the scope of work changed significantly, the price was going to change. More parts + more time = Brake calipermore money than we initially quoted. We would have known all of this if we inspected the brakes before quoting. Well she wasn’t happy….

This story doesn’t have a happy ending although it is slightly comical. She demanded that we fix the brake system within the quote I gave her. When I said that wasn’t possible she got very upset (this is an understatement). She ended up screaming that I must be a “Trump supporter” and accused me of trying to ruin her family’s Christmas because we wouldn’t fix her car. Then she took to social media (using our WiFi) to tell everyone how horrible we are and how our staff broke her car because it was “perfect” when she brought it in.

So this was the last time we ever gave a price for brakes without first seeing the vehicle.

I don’t know about you but if I have to pay for a brake job I don’t want to find out the hard way that the one time I need to stop quickly when going 60 mph that I should have paid an extra $40 – $50 to get my brakes done properly by someone that knows what they’re doing.

If you have a brake issue and want us to check it out for you, we would love the opportunity. Simply schedule an appointment by giving us a call 413.363.0306 or feel free to schedule online 24/7.

-James

Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MA Best auto repair shop near me

 

You want it done right then you go to Precision. I have 4 vehicles I use for my electrical contracting company and each of them have never seen a dealer except for the day I bought them. If my vehicles are down then I can’t do my job. The people at Precision understand that. Top notch service from James and the guys over there for all of the 9 years I’ve been using their service.

Devon R.

Agawam, MA

Volvo grinding noise

Volvo repair differential replacement

Volvo Grinding Noise While DrivingVolvo repair grinding noise while driving

About a week ago we received a call from a long time customer saying that he hears a noise coming from the back  of his Volvo XC90 when driving down the road. We didn’t think much of it because wheel bearings are a common Volvo Repair and they could give him the noise that he was describing. We definitely had the wrong assumption.

When the vehicle came in the customer said that there had been a warning light lit up on his dash for about a month but since the vehicle seemed fine he didn’t bother to call for an appointment. We attempted a road test the vehicle but the noise was a loud grinding that could be felt throughout the entire vehicle as the wheels turned. One of our Master Technicians immediately pulled the vehicle into the shop rather than take the standard road test. We just didn’t want to potentially do any further damage than was already done. When we pulled the Volvo into the shop we hoisted it on the lift and saw a large amount of fluid all over the rear portion of the underside of the vehicle.

Volvo Repair

It didn’t take long to see that the rear differential (in short, a differential is the gears that turn the wheels) was literally split in half. Since there wasn’t any way to know what caused the damage Volvo repair broken differentialwithout removing and disassembling what was left of the Volvo Rear Differential and it had to be removed to be replaced, we went ahead and removed it. It was fairly involved but we got it out without much of an issue at all.

Once we got it out we took it apart for inspection to find out what had failed. There is a bearing in the rear differential called a “Pinion Bearing”. This bearing started to go bad and over time completely failed. This caused the gear that the bearing guides to move around allowing the main gear in the differential to rub on the inside of the differential housing until it eventually banged against it hard enough to break it in half.

Since the housing and gears were all completely destroyed we ended up replacing the entire differential unit. Then we performed an alignment because most of the rear suspension had to come apart to remove the old differential and to install the new one. The part was special order and took a few days to come in but the customer ultimately had their vehicle back in their possession within 2 business days.

When warning lights show up on your dash, it’s never a good idea to ignore them. This differential is equipped with a fluid pump on the differential that’s controlled by a computer that’s also mounted on the differential. The computer had shorted out internally causing the pump to malfunction. This caused a great deal of heat which ultimately caused the pinion bearing to fail.

Do you have any lights on your dash that need to be addressed? Give us a call today or schedule online 24/7.

Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MA Best auto repair shop near me

Volvo repair differential noise

 

I’ve been going to James since his first shop opened over 10 years ago. I was happy to use him then and I’m happy to use him now. Always professional and honest. The pricing is also more than fair considering the service you get with anything that they do. Great spot and great people.

Matt R

Longmeadow, MA

Porsche Vibration Repair

Porsche repair technician

Porsche Vibration Repair

In my opinion, Porsche makes one of the nicest vehicles on the road today. But there’s nothing worse than driving one that has squeaks, noises, and vibrations. We saw one today where the customer was concerned about an aggressive vibration when accelerating. While there are many things that can cause this issue, this one was pretty simple to identify. Today I’ll tell you about this Porsche Vibration Repair, what happened, how it happened, and how you can prevent it from happening to you.

Porsche repair driveshaft replacement
You can see from this picture that the housing for the bearing support is just hanging on the shaft. It’s not connected to anything.

Porsche Vibration while accelerating

This customer’s concern was a vibration while accelerating. The back story is that he called a few other shops and went to one that wanted him to replace the front brake calipers (spoiler alert, the brakes and calipers are perfect). The first step for any customer concern is to first verify it. This is done with a simple road test by one of our Master Technicians. In this case when accelerating normally the vibration was so violent that it felt like someone was under the vehicle hitting the bottom of the driver’s seat with a hammer. The next step was to put the vehicle up in the air to take a look and inspect for the exact cause of the vibration.

The Technician checked all of the tires, brakes, suspension, and drive line. While most everything was in great shape it was obvious that there was a problem with the drive shaft. A drive shaft is a rotating shaft that transmits torque in an engine. More simply put, when you step on the gas pedal the engine turns, the engine turns the transmission, the transmission turns the drive shaft, the drive shaft turns the gears that make the vehicle move forward or backwards.

On this Porsche Cayenne the drive shaft is pretty long so in the center of it there needs to be a support to hold it tight while rotating so there is no vibration. This support is called a “Carrier Bearing”. The carrier bearing just sits in the center of the shaft and the shaft rotates through the center of it.  There were a few problems here.

First, the customer recently purchased the vehicle second hand. The drive shaft in the vehicle was replaced somewhat recently with a used part from a junk yard. This was obvious due to faulty installation, missing bolts, and yellow writing all over the shaft indicating a stock number from a junk yard. The second issue was that the bearing wasn’t just faulty, it was completely destroyed. It literally wasn’t connected at all. So when the drive shaft would spin to turn the wheels, it would vibrate and essentially hit the floor of the vehicle causing the aggressive vibration felt while driving.

Porsche repair technicianPorsche Repair in West Springfield, MA

The repair was actually pretty simple. Since the carrier bearing is part of the drive shaft and has to be purchased as one unit, we simply removed the old shaft and installed a new one. While putting the new one back up, we installed any and all missing hardware to ensure this one lasts. The total repair took a little over an hour and the customer had the vehicle back the following day because we had to order the part.

After the repair we took a second road test with the vehicle to be sure that the vibration was gone. We’re happy to say that this Porsche Cayenne Repair fixed the issue and the vehicle is back to

rolling down the road as smooth as silk.

How can you prevent this from happening to you?

The reality is that if you drive a vehicle, things wear and eventually break. If a vehicle sits and doesn’t get driven, things break down and need replacement. In this case the bearing was pretty bad. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst) this bearing was about a 12. There was nothing left to it. Which leads us to believe that there was a significant noise and smaller vibration for a while before the bearing came completely apart.

The first step towards preventing this level of failure would have been to have the vehicle properly inspected by us prior to purchase. Whenever buying any used vehicle you always want to have a trained and impartial set of eyes check it over for you to spot any apparent problems or anything on the horizon (like a faulty drive shaft….). Our Technicians see Porsche Repairs all the time so it’s  very easy for us to spot common problems before they fail.

Porsche repair carrier bearing replacement
This is how the bearing should look without the bracket in place.

The next option is to have your vehicle serviced regularly. I say it all the time, “Scheduled maintenance is the key to avoiding costly and unexpected break downs.” By following the service schedule for your vehicle we would see your vehicle roughly every 3-5,000 miles. During each of those visits the vehicle gets a full 55 point inspection for FREE. This inspection is specifically designed by our staff to spot safety and mechanical issues before they cause major issues or put you in harm’s way. If we had seen this vehicle, we most definitely would have seen this so that the customer would have time to prepare and budget for the repair.

In this case since it was unexpected and the part was pricey, he took advantage of one of our Payment Plans. Approval took about 10-15 minutes and he had the funds available the same day. His repair is also backed by our 2 year, 24,000 mile Nationwide Warranty and 12 months of Roadside Assistance at no additional cost. This customer can rest easy knowing that he received a quality Porsche Repair and peace of mind at a fair price that he can pay for over time.

Precision Auto Repair and Sales West Springfield MAI’m new to Porsche ownership. I always wanted one and finally had a chance to get my dream Porsche Cayenne. When I had this issue I just din’t know where to turn. Some co workers recommended James so I gave him a shot. I was not even slightly disappointed. They got my baby in right away and had the issue pin pointed in a few minutes. The pricing was very fair and the financing was a breeze. I got 0% for 6 months, my car back the next day, and they even washed it for me. I’ll most definitely be returning for future service here. Great job James and staff. My family and I are very appreciative.

Adam R.

Suffield, CT