Sunday, February 6, 2011

A botched 9-3SS brake job -or- one more reason why you should always have a SAAB specialist service your SAAB.

I recently got to observe a pretty amazing site... a front brake job on a 9-3 Sport Sedan that had been completely botched in just about every way.

Client stated brakes were soft, making noise, and not stopping well. Front brakes had been "replaced" by a local generic automotive repair shop. Client took the car back to them on two different occasion stating the above issues and overall not being pleased with the work.

The findings were pretty amazing.

Firstly, the shop had "turned" the brake rotors (a process of removing metal from the rotor to create a flat surface). I NEVER do this or recommended it, as replacement with original SAAB parts is a much better option for the same amount that most shops charge for their "turning" service. The rotors had been cut way below their minimum thickness, and had about half of the braking surface removed. Once the pads would have worn down near their replacement point, the brake pistons would have overextended and blown out, causing a loss of front brakes (which provide about 80% of the cars stopping power).




Stock rotor vs. the turned rotor on the car


Now, on to the pads. The pads used were incorrect for the car. The car was a 2003 9-3, which is a tough year to order parts for. In 2003, the sedan version of the car was different from the convertible version of the car. The convertible was the older body style, with different brakes. The issue is that the difference is slight, so if you receive the wrong parts, it seems as if they will install... because they will, but they are completely incorrect!

The pads on the earler 9-3 (which is what was installed on this car) are too large and will rub the caliper, inner hub of the rotor, and bind when the piston trys to compress them. Here's what it looked like when the wheel was taken off:


1: The rattle clip retainer is missing
2: The pad is rubbing the inner hub
3: The pad is not making full contact with the rotor
4: They put some kind of grease on the back of the pad to make it work?


I was pretty amazed at this point. It would have been one thing for them to do the job and send it out thinking it was okay, but the client took it back TWICE to complain about issues with it and they still looked at it and said it was OK!

Things got worse, though. After taking it all apart and removing the pads, it was immediately apparent that something more was very wrong. The pads binding had caused the pistons that push the pads onto the rotors had cracked on both sides due to the binding of the incorrect pads! I can't stress how dangerous this was to be driven. The brake fluid was leaking out from behind the pistons and failure was imminent.


Cracked brake caliper piston


After reassembly with all new and correct parts the brakes work and feel great. I just wanted to put this up as a reminder to everyone... make sure you know who's working on your car. Most inspection stations fail cars on brakes and exhausts, then try to sell them to the customer because that's how they keep their doors open. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I would have easily caught this before I ever installed the new parts. My cost for the job with all new parts was also less than what this shop charged her... just something to keep in mind.


All done


Take care,
-Chad

5 comments:

Eric said...

awesome Chad, way to go. seeing stuff like this is infuriating!

maheswari said...

Your excellent guidelines will be of great help to many. Nice post. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks! Exhaust specialists

Mircea said...

happened to a friend of mine as well,luckily i am a pretty good mechanic wanna be so...spotted this out...they do this in Romania at almost 80% of the workshops (on any car brand) they always skim the client

nice post thanks for the overview

Unknown said...

I'm a service technician out in MA. I started with SAAB and now do Cadillac and BMW (I know, I know..). I see what you do as well. I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS!!! If I were you I would have cataloged this and driven to the shop that did this work personally to have that tech fired. That is so incredibly unsafe, unproffesional, and unbelievable. Just.. wow...

Nathan Houston said...

I'm a service technician out in MA. I started with SAAB and now do Cadillac and BMW (I know, I know..). I see what you do as well. I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS!!! If I were you I would have cataloged this and driven to the shop that did this work personally to have that tech fired. That is so incredibly unsafe, unproffesional, and unbelievable. Just.. wow...