: Rear brakes/drums - am I being lied to???

03-31-13, 02:29 AM
I was driving home and heard a nasty squeal from the passenger side. I knew it was the brake wear indicator and since I know little about doing my own brakes, I stopped and got the front brake pads replaced and rotors turned. No problems there - $88 and I'm out the door - the squeal is gone.

However, before we were done, the mechanic took me out to the car, showed me the rear brakes and said:

1) my rear brake shoes are still good - not near the rivets
2) my rear wheel cylinders are "weeping" and need to be replaced
3) my brake drums are "right at" the discard-measurement and therefore, my wheel cylinders are pushing to their max settings and so the drums need to be replaced; thereby also necessitating new brake shoes
4) it could be in an hour or in a year, but sooner-or-later, my wheel cylinders are going to fail, I'll lose all of my brake fluid and all-of-a-sudden, I'll be barreling toward my death in a 4,000+ lb vehicle with no brakes (unless I'm clever and can turn off the car and push on the e-brake fast enough)
5) that for $350-$375 (he was guesstimating), I can have it all replaced and save my own life and the lives of all others who dare to drive in my vicinity. (OK, he wasn't quite so dramatic...but was insistent that it NEEDS to be done ASAP.)

Now, I'm familiar with the hard sell tactics, leaving me wondering if I'm being taken for a fool...but I also don't want to be a fool and actually risk my own life and the lives of all others who dare to drive in my vicinity. Hence, my bring this to you lot for your input...

If I'm fair, the mechanic did not try at all to up-sell anything relating to the front brakes...he said the disks were still good and new pads and turning the rotors were all that's needed. His attempts to up-sell were centered around the rear brakes.

In looking at the wheel cylinders, there was a bit of dampness...but very little...I'd dare say barely noticeable...and I've never seen any brake fluid leaking in my garage. My pedal doesn't feel spongy or non-responsive...it doesn't go to/near the floor...and my BRAKE light comes on at start-up, but not ever during driving/braking. In fact, the ONLY reason I stopped in was because the front brake wear indicators told me there was a problem...otherwise, I'd have never had the brakes looked at today.

In the end, I only had the front brakes done today. I've not done the rear brakes yet.

So, is it as dire as he says? Should I replace ALL of those components at once? Is $350-$375 a decent price to replace the lot? (I'd love to do it myself, but I don't know that I am that confident in my mechanical inclination)

Thanks in advance, everyone...

03-31-13, 02:36 AM
they always try to get extra money out of you but if it was me id get a second or third opinion from other shops,thats alot of money,some people just ant got that sitting in there pockets

03-31-13, 03:03 AM
It's not lying , its selling... If I had a leaking wheel cylinder, I would change it... I would not change the shoes and drums until the shoes are worn out.. I am willing to bet if I got my dial calipers out and measured the drum it would not be over max diameter...By the way not long ago rockauto had a closeout on wheel cylinders and had them for $3 each ...They might still have some... AND if you broke a brake line and lost all your brake fluid to the rear wheels , the car will still stop with just the front brakes...

03-31-13, 07:41 AM
It's true, but I agree with drmenard. If the cylinders are leaking, just replace them. They're cheap and easy to replace IF the line comes loose for you. If not, things snowball in a hurry. If they cylinders have leaked to the point where the shoes got fluid on them, they're toast anyway. If the drums aren't scored I'd reuse them with new shoes.

The Ape Man
03-31-13, 09:39 AM
Did the snailsman show you the actual brake drum measurement?

Did they check for axleshaft bearing play? Very important on these cars. That price seems high.

Any sign of weep on a wheel cylinder is bad news.

03-31-13, 10:22 AM
Seems legit to me. Labor seems high but I bet theres about $150/200 in parts markup.

Cadillac Giovanni
03-31-13, 10:38 AM
Yeah, that's not too expensive. If you can afford it, do it. It'll have to be done sooner or later.

But you certainly won't be in much danger. Even if your rear brakes fail, your front brakes will still work, and in cars with discs in the front and drums in the back, the front handles 75% of the braking anyway. You'll be able to stop.

03-31-13, 10:44 AM
Any seeping and the wheel cyl should be replaced. As for the drums have them measured when turned and change the brake shoes and all hardware. For a hundred bucks you can have everything except new drums easily and no worries. But yea he was selling hard...

03-31-13, 01:10 PM
Cheers, everyone, for your responses. I'm glad knowing that I don't have to rush out and get this done yesterday.

They did not show me the measurements on the drums...but they didn't show me the measurements on the disks, either, and they said that the disks were just fine and did not need replacing...made me think that there may be some truth to their claim on the measurements of the drums.

They did not mention anything about rear axleshaft bearing play, though.

I have no problems with getting the cylinders replaced...in fact, on Rockauto, they seemed to be very inexpensive. I may buy them and take them to my regular mechanic to replace...he's always been fair to me, but he wasn't available when I needed the fronts done straight away. I can then replace the drums later on, when the rear shoes need replacing.

The Ape Man
03-31-13, 05:45 PM
All these cars use axleshafts as bearing races. They should be checked for play any time the drums are off. Brand new rear brakes won't last long with a gouge in an axle shaft. Just something to check along the way. Not saying you have this problem.

03-31-13, 11:00 PM
Well, I know it's in bad taste, but nevertheless, I'm going to toot my own optional-trumpet-horns...

I did it...I went to the AutoZone and bought wheel cylinders at $9/ea and replaced them myself. With a $8 bleeder kit and a bottle of brake fluid...and a little help from YouTube, I was able to change them out. I've learned how to bleed the brakes...which is something I've feared I'd screw up...and roadtested to be sure that everything works properly. If I'm honest, I made a mess...brake fluid everywhere, but it's all sorted now.

I'll look to replace my drums when it's time to replace the shoes.

Cheers to everyone for your input.

Happy Easter!

The Ape Man
04-01-13, 07:16 AM
Good show.

04-01-13, 09:19 PM
The price he gave you to do the backs is good but like already been said he really did try to sell that one up pretty hard. Good to hear you got the wheel cylinders replaced and did it yourself. There's a feeling of acomplishment for you.

04-15-13, 09:12 AM
Most Shoes or pads are made with the same materials as clutches. Brake fluid or any petroleum based product including penetrating sprays on ur shoes or pads renders them useless. (this also applys to a/c clutches, so dont spray them either). I'd change it all out cuz even a small amount on ur shoes... not good. As for pricing, not the worst I've heard, the mechanic may be accounting for potential rusted or seized parts which may require more labor. Shop around or even ask about price matching. Be safe. Get'em done, drums, shoes, wc's, and hardware. Trust me, you'll enjoy the peace of mind when something jumps out in front of you.