Perhaps I'm getting older, or perhaps standards are dropping. Let's say that both statements are true. Regardless, there are many things about modern life that just get me worked up, so I thought I'd start writing about it, at very least so that others know that they're not alone. So here we go...
What Upsets Me About Modern Car Servicing
Modern car servicing is a scam, pure and simple. There's very little in terms of profit margins on the sale of new cars; what selling cars does not is commit you to a brand, and all the pleasures of service obligations and high parts prices that you yield to under threat of having your warranty (also a scam, but that's off topic) revoked.
I'm covered in filth after pulling these brake pads out of our car this morning. Arrows mark the amount of wear remaining on the old pad versus a new one. More on that below...
We recently drew a line in the sand with our BMW. After being quoted $1,100 for a very minor service - literally an oil change and an air filter change, we sold the car and left the brand. BMW actually told me that if I tried to save money on servicing by opting not to replace the filter (and this is an air-conditioner filter, not an engine induction filter) then my warranty would be void. Not what you want to entertain for an expensive vehicle under new car warranty.
Our other car, a small run-about Holden, we've kept and as it too is under new car warranty, we've kept up the log book servicing and have paid to do so in order to maintain the warranty. I used to maintain and perform mechanical repairs and upgrades on my vehicles but as the cars I've owned became newer, I've had the ability to do my own mechanical work robbed from me by this system of warranty entrapment.
What's more, people seem to rate logbook servicing highly when establishing resale value. This makes no sense to me. I looked through a vehicle service log book a few weeks back and the technician had written the date in the kilometers field and visa versa. Is that the attention to detail that you want applied to automotive mechanical work?
I've also had cars back from service and pulled the dipstick only to find discoloured used oil still in the engine. You're paying for the log book stamp only, not for the work.
Over the past few weeks, our little run-about Holden has been making some nasty metallic grinding noises from the passenger front wheel. Applying the brakes would sometimes reduce the sound and sometimes made it worse. It didn't sound like wheel bearings which sound softer and make a more constant noise when they need repacking.
The last service the car underwent was not that long ago. We took it back to that servicing outlet complaining of the noise. They said they don't know what's causing it but mentioned that "by the way your brake pads are desperately low, you'll be lucky to get 1000km out of them". Now the "next service due in" sticker that they last added to the windshield still has 4000km outstanding.
Another comparison of an old pad versus the new one that I put in this morning. All the "professional" servicing this car has had failed to identify the need to replace these.
Why did they not identify this issue at the last inspection? Those pads would be the original that came with the car from new. Part of paying to delegate out mechanical maintenance is the identification such issues and the scheduling to have the work performed.
When I did all the work on my previous cars I'd keep a spreadsheet of all the work I'd do, the date and the km. This allowed me to predict when representative jobs like brake and tyre replacement would be required. I feel poorer and less safe now that our vehicles are being worked on by so called professionals.
We were quoted $235 to replace the front pads. I'd had enough. I purchased the pads in a good quality brand yesterday and early this morning had the car up on stands to do the job myself. I had wanted to inspect the front left anyway to look for possible causes for this noise and just thought that I'd do the pads while there.
Sure enough, when I took the old pads out, I believe I found the cause of the noise. The inner pad on the passenger front had worn unevenly and given how low they were, the metal clip on the outside of the pad showed evidence of coming into contact with the disk. The sound would have been caused by the metal clip contacting the metal disc.
Notice the groove and signs of wear on the inner side of the metal clip.
To me this is complete negligence. How could this have been permitted to happen? Should everyone be expected to simply bring a vehicle when symptoms of issues become evident? Maintenance is about the prevention of issues!
The pictures I've uploaded illustrate the situation. I've highlighted the thickness of the new pads versus the ones that came out and have also indicated the gouged channel in the clip caused by contact with the disc. The groove aligns perfectly with the arc of the disc and, sure enough, when I reassembled the calipers and bedded in the pads, the front end was a quite as a church mouse.
I'll be taking on my own maintenance again. I'm not going to be subjected to the inconvenience and cost of having work inadequately performed or not performed at all only to maintain a warranty that is usually declined on various technicalities anyway when push comes to shove. These pads cost me $90 (and that was for the premium brand). It was a quick job so I made quite a saving.
I wonder whether this story resonates with anyone else out there in the steemosphere. Thanks for reading!
Another angle of the wear on the metal pad clip caused by the brake rotor. The line indicates approximate angle of contact which is tangential to the movement of the disc at that point.