Attn Tegger: '95 Civic EX Sedan: Brakes Failed Inspection With NoMalfunction

Discussion in 'Civic' started by Leftie, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. Leftie

    Leftie Guest

    I made the mistake of having a dealer inspect the car today, and
    they failed it. The front brakes, which were replaced by the previous
    owner 3 years (5k miles) ago and have passed the previous two
    inspections, have performed perfectly, but I was told the 'front pads
    were incorrectly positioned and had to be reinstalled' - to the tune of
    about $100. The rejection notice just says "79.21(a) Service Brake
    System." The car has ABS, but the only time I got a warning light was
    when the old battery was failing. Once I replaced the battery, no ABS
    light. Were they trying to pull a fast one, being a little too strict,
    or is there actually a real problem that requires removing and
    reinstalling the pads? The car is waiting at a local shop now.
    Leftie, Aug 6, 2009
  2. Leftie

    Tegger Guest

    "Incorrectly positioned"? That sounds a bit odd.

    Did you ask the service advisor what the technician's evidence was
    in determining "incorrect" position?

    Have you checked the pads yourself?
    Tegger, Aug 6, 2009
  3. Leftie

    Leftie Guest

    No, I told them I was taking the car elsewhere to have the
    inspection finished. The Service Manger told me that it was a
    misdemeanor for a shop to pass the car without correcting the "problem."
    I told him that it was also illegal to report nonexistent problems. I
    dropped the car off at the local shop we use on the way home, as they
    had removed the just-expired inspection sticker. Thanks for responding,
    Leftie, Aug 6, 2009
  4. Nuff said, IMO.
    How the heck can brake pads be 'incorrectly positioned?' I could see a
    missing anti-rattle clip at worst. In that case, I'd think they would
    tell you specifically what's wrong.

    $100 ought to buy you a complete front end brake job, complete with new
    pads, etc.

    Their vague, threatening ("it's illegal!") language makes me think
    they're scumballs.
    Greg Campbell, Aug 6, 2009
  5. Leftie

    Leftie Guest

    Well, they had Glenn Dreck playing in the waiting room. This is
    Saratoga Honda, which at one time was good dealership. Things change...
    Leftie, Aug 6, 2009
  6. Leftie

    Leftie Guest

    So it would seem. I just got the car back from my local shop, and
    they said there was nothing at all wrong with the pads or how they were
    installed. They charged me $11.00 and passed it.
    Leftie, Aug 6, 2009
  7. Leftie

    Tegger Guest

    Just out of curiosity, would you be willing to call the dealership and ask
    exactly what it was that the original tech decided constituted "incorrectly
    positioned"? I'd absolutely love to know.
    Tegger, Aug 7, 2009
  8. Leftie

    Leftie Guest

    The receipt says it failed inspection "due to the front brake pads
    are improperly installed." Does that help any? Keep in mind that the
    brakes worked perfectly and there was no noise at all. Also, it wasn't
    just a tech: one of the other 'service' people overheard my argument
    with the know-little woman who handled the paperwork, and he's the one I
    really talked with. I believe he's the one who brought up the ABS, but
    without providing any details - I at first thought they wanted to
    replace a sensor. Not sure if he's the current Service Manager or not.
    I'd love to file a few complaints, starting with the DMV about their
    licensed inspection station, but I don't want to manage to snatch a
    defeat from the jaws of victory...
    Leftie, Aug 7, 2009
  9. Assuming they are scamming people, doing nothing will only subject more
    innocent people to these worms.

    It can't hurt to file a complaint with the BBB. Even if names and
    details are a bit fuzzy, and hard evidence lacking, every testimonial
    will help.

    Heck, forward your story to the local TV station and suggest they whip
    up one of those undercover sting episodes.
    Greg Campbell, Aug 7, 2009
  10. Leftie

    Leftie Guest

    I may well go the BBB route. I'm reluctant to complain the the DMV
    because my local shop will cut people some slack on minor defects, and I
    don't want them investigated when the dealer raises a fuss. Just posting
    it here will have an effect: when I had a local Volvo dealer tell me I
    needed a new $3k transmission for a $300 problem, I posted it to usenet
    and it now shows up when you search that dealer for complaints.
    Leftie, Aug 7, 2009
  11. Leftie

    Tegger Guest

    No, because it does not say WHY or HOW they were "improperly installed".

    Don't bother trying. You got your pass and that's all that's important.

    But there's nothing wrong with asking how the diagnosis was arrived at.
    Tegger, Aug 7, 2009
  12. Leftie

    ACAR Guest

    In Maryland it was the State Police that regulated inspection
    stations. (I had a similar thing happen to me years ago.)
    ACAR, Aug 7, 2009
  13. Leftie

    Leftie Guest

    I had left some very negative feedback when Honda asked me if I was
    satisfied with my last service visit, and although I had not asked for a
    response from Saratoga Honda, I got one anyway:


    "I am responding in writing to answer your comments about your last
    visit to Saratoga Honda. Your vehicle was indeed failed for “improperly
    installed front brake pads”, as they are not installed as per Honda.
    The sensors on the pads have to be in the proper position in order to
    work correctly. We can provided you with pictures and documentation to
    support our proper decision.

    If your vehicle passed two previous inspections with the pads in the
    same position as we found them, then the person doing the inspection was
    unaware of the proper installation of Honda disc brake pads. If you did
    not have the pads reinstalled in the proper position prior to the
    “subsequent examination by another shop showed no problem at all”, then
    they do not understand the proper position of the pads on a Honda. You
    are required by inspection law to notify the garage or service station
    doing the inspection that you had already failed the safety portion of
    the inspection recently, and give them the inspection form we gave you
    so they can scan it prior to starting their inspection. The posted law
    reads “It is a violation of the vehicle and traffic law for: A vehicle
    owner to accept a sticker if he knows the vehicle was not properly
    inspected.” We had already clearly advised you of the reason for the

    In addition, our quote of $86.00 plus tax to put the pads in the
    proper position was made after first suggesting that you have the people
    who installed the pads improperly correct them at no charge to you.
    Since the problem does exist, an investigation by American Honda’s
    District Service Manager has confirmed that Saratoga Honda’s operating
    practices meet the highest ethical and technical standards. I have also
    called Tom Noonan at DMV, who confirms that if the brake pads are
    improperly installed, the vehicle must fail the inspection. He advised
    me that if you choose to you can file a complaint with the DMV charging
    the garage that did the inspection for failure to do a proper inspection.

    On the subject of your statement that you requested synthetic
    motor oil be used, I find no evidence that such a request occurred. You
    did specify 10W30 weight, but at any point if you had mentioned you
    wanted synthetic oil, you would have been given a quote first.

    I am confident that my Service Department gave you value-added
    service, and we told you the truth. Perhaps as time goes by you will
    reconsider your comments, and you will realize that we are indeed worthy
    of your trust."


    I think not. Not only did I ask for synthetic blend oil, I asked a
    second time to make sure that the woman handling my paperwork had
    recorded it. She told me that she had "told them." Further, I did give
    the second shop the rejection notice, and they looked at the front
    brakes specifically. So, Tegger, what do you think about the reason given?
    Leftie, Aug 15, 2009
  14. Leftie

    Tegger Guest

    The most revealing comment in the dealership's letter:
    "The sensors on the pads have to be in the proper position in order to
    work correctly."

    The only way I can think how the pads would be improperly installed as
    described in that document is that the inner pads would have been swapped

    Swapping left-for-right would have put the squeal tabs (wear indicators) at
    the /bottom/ instead of at the /top/, where they should be on your car's
    front brakes. This is what I suspected from the beginning.

    Disc brake pads tend to wear most at their leading edges (relative to the
    rotor's spin direction, not the car's direction), so the wear indicator is
    placed there.

    In your case, the wear indicator being on the bottom would mean that it
    would not function as intended (being on the trailing edge, which ends up
    being thicker than the lead edge), and you'd end up down to the steel on
    the lead edge of the pads well before the indicator ever contacted the

    Official safety inspectors necessarily must consider certain pre-determined
    standards when deciding whether something is "safe" or not, and correct
    installation is part of that. If the pads were in fact swapped, then they
    were indeed installed wrongly, even if you might end up experiencing no
    apparent consequences resulting from the incorrect installation.

    Correction of this issue means removing the road wheel and the caliper,
    switching the inner pads to their correct sides, then putting everything
    back together again. It is not necessary to replace the pads unless they
    are too far worn to keep in service.

    From the dealership's perspective (and that of the state's inspection
    agency), they did exactly what the law told them they had to do.

    However, your independent garage unfortunately does not appear to
    understand brake function as well as they should, and thus did a poor
    Tegger, Aug 15, 2009
  15. Leftie

    Leftie Guest

    Thanks for the reply. Calling wear indicators "sensors" is
    ridiculous, and lying about the screwup with the oil change doesn't give
    me any confidence that they are telling the truth about the brakes. At
    any rate, given the rate with which I wear down brakes, this won't be an
    issue for me, because I will know, year to year at inspection time, how
    much pad I have left. The car will probably still have those pads on it
    when I sell it. I'll be sure to mention the issue to the next owner.
    Leftie, Aug 15, 2009
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