Tag Archive: Brakes

No, not finished yet with prepping my RV, sigh. My friend Tom…  I now call him Tomlettie, drove us around the day before yesterday up on Gibraltar Road, a 48-mile narrow twisty climb into the Santa Ynez mountains above Santa Barbara. Great views and very popular for rock climbers and bicyclists. One gains 3,995′ from sea level to La Cumbre Peak. Yesterday there were clouds as we climbed, very lovely, the town below us spreading out into the haze of the sea. I enjoyed myself from the passenger seat as Tomlettie handled the curves in due diligence to loosen up the tight steering gearbox.


Trouble didn’t start until we stared down the 7% grade coming home. The burning brake smell was stronger than I’d ever expected. When he got to his house and I started down the road to my house I found instead of a bit looser steering that I could barely steer at all! The LT was determined to head hard off to the left into some secret missive until I tapped the brakes at which point the LT wanted to head equally insistently to the right (this was the opposite of the previous brake pull to the left at higher speeds.) Fortunately I didn’t have far to go. I struggled to get home; never having stuck brakes  in the past I wasn’t sure what was wrong, I kept checking the hand brake but yep, it was off.


Today back at Motor Brake and Wheel I got the news from Alex ….  my front brakes were shot! The LT required a complete front end brake job: brake pads, calipers, rotors, wheel bearing, wheel seals, and still to come on Monday brake hoses. I was given a point by point list of the brake inspection which it had mostly failed. The LT is back home now, when I take in Monday for the brake lines I will ask them if they can bring the brake pedal up. . . maybe it needs more bleeding.  The brakes were so unsafe its terrifying.  How would one know when it’s taken to other “brake shops’ and given the a’okay?   I will talk about this more later and what I intend to do about it.  I have the old brake parts and photos…  I’ll post them next time. Right now I’m tired.

There are certainly differences of opinion when it comes to when to replace parts on brakes and I’m in the position of having to “trust” the mechanic and the reputation of the shop I take it to. I consider the ability to stop quickly and easily vital to road and personal safety. I don’t want to risk the security of my dogs, my precious travelers!

Bruce’s Auto had given me the A OK on the LT brakes yet suddenly they started squeaking. My Ford has had squeaking brakes as a mater of course, I keep taking it to my tire place, they rotate the tires and tell me everything’s fine. I can still get more use out of them, not to worry. The same is not true for my little RV. It’s very heavy so stopping it takes a lot of force. The squeaking worried me;  I’ll be hitting steep mountainous roads soon enough so I figured an extra opinion would be worthwhile. I bought my tires at Ians, so that’s where it is now, at an Ians; they pride themselves on doing top quality work.  As the serviceman told me, they use the better parts, of course these cost more, but (hopefully) one can expect a greater longevity.

Perhaps ethics is at issue here, one can save money on a vehicle they don’t plan to put a lot of miles on. If you’re thinking you may sell or trade up your RV in a year or two you can shirk on high quality parts, but I never like doing that. Ians told me my front pads were less than 15% and the rears 10%; not a sure thing for continuing a long road trip if I planned steep mountain driving; on the freeways, maybe. He then explained “to do it right” the front rotors should be done; he quoted me a heart stopping price. . . I could spend a large chunk of my travel budget just for brakes! In the end we settled on new pads for the front and new pads and shoes for the rear; enough, he said, to see me though 20,000 miles or so. The front pads will wear quicker than normal since the rotors are not smooth, this can also cause squeaking so that  may continue even with the new pads on the front. In the end it will cost $450 without the doing the rotors. Lucky me, I’ll save that for somewhere down the road.

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The bill was $309.. . . more reasonable, but they left greasy hand prints all over including on my steering wheel cover. And of course I thought I heard a new noise, a growling, knocking sort of noise. Dear mechanics of the world, sure I know your boss is telling you to hurry but can’t you use the door handles. Cleaned up the grease. Will have the engine re-inspected tomorrow. Seems weak on hills and at about 60 – 65 – 70  mph it still makes that nasty whining sound.