Impossible diagnose my car at a double distance thread

My wife is about 200 miles away from me and just texted that the brakes on our car have just started to “feel rough,” and make a “rough sound”. She says she feels (and hears) vibration.

To me this sounds like it could be something really serious with the rotor being misaligned or something.

But she is supposed to drive home tonight.

And tomorrow is a holiday so brake places are not likely to open.


Am I probably right that it would be a very bad idea to drive 200 miles on this?

If so, ADVICE!?!?

If the car feels unsafe, she should drop it at repair place and either rent a car to come home in or put up in a Holiday Inn Express overnight and pick up her car when it’s done. (Bonus - she’ll be a brain surgeon by morning!) If she’s in a city, she shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone to check the brakes.

It sucks, but it’s the smart play.

We’ve been calling places, nobody seems to be open. :confused:

Still trying to call places.

What’s the worst case scenario, cost wise, if she drives home tonight? (2010 Kia Forte if it matters.)

It sounds like the brake pads have worn down and are you are now dealing abnormal contact on the rotors. That is pretty bad. I had that happen to my 2010 vehicle about 18 months ago and caught it just in time so that the rotors did not have to be replaced completely. Brake deterioration happened really quickly after I first noticed it (about 30 miles of highway driving with little brake use). I usually try to push through such things in these cases but I don’t think she should in this case. Brake pads are fairly inexpensive to replace but rotors are not. If she damages them badly, you will be looking at a very large repair bill and she still might not make it home. Getting it fixed where she is is the safest and probably the cheapest option overall even factoring in time lost and hotel bills.

Replacing rotors costs in the high hundreds at the least in my experience.

Do you have AAA? If so, she can just go to a hotel and have them tow the car from there tomorrow. You can do that in any case but it costs money and this is one good reason to have AAA.

I forgot this aspect of the problem: She is the ride for two other people…

One friend of hers called her friend who is a car mechanic, and his philosophy is “it sounds like the damage is already done, may as well drive it home.”

Sounds dubious to me, but I can imagine that it’s possible that once this damage is done, doing more of it won’t increase the cost. I can just barely imagine that. But does it sound as dubious to you as to me?

I am not a mechanic but that wasn’t true in my case. My brakes sounded and felt really bad when I took it in but I was just at the final stages of a stern warning. I did not have to have the rotors replaced but they said it was really close and they were able to resurface the rotors but they couldn’t if I drove it any longer. Driving 200 miles on failing brakes is not only not completely safe, it is almost guaranteed to cost you a very large repair bill.

I would personally drive on them if it was just me and money was no object (being extra careful of course and using them as little as possible) but I wouldn’t recommend it to loved ones or anyone else.

Everyone is prone to ‘Get-home-itis’ and that is often a factor given in forensic investigations after the fact.

Yeah, I’ve advised her to strongly consider either renting a car to come home (don’t know what’s open right now though–and remember two other people are depending on her for the ride) or if the three of them can all manage, to stay one more night and rent a car in the morning. IF RENTAL PLACES ARE OPEN TOMORROW! :frowning:

And this leaves the problem of where to leave the car parked. Rental places don’t typically let you just leave your old car. We’d have to maybe ask the hotel or something. Brake places are all closed tomorrow.

I was a mechanic but for motorcycles and I’ve followed that general thought myself a few times. Usually its right. When it isn’t, break out another thousand.

I would say if she feels the wheel or pedal really fighting her, stop. Other than that I would go more by the traffic and roads and SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess) it from there. Highway, steady speed, probably no problem. Washington Beltway - forget it.

I’m kind of aggravated about this. We do have the brakes inspected on schedule. There has been no squealing or any other kind of indication. Grr.

Rotors aren’t that expensive, at least not on small cars like this. Looks like from an auto parts store they’re about $20 a pop and I’m fairly sure they’re just slide-off-slide-on on this car. I’d guess having to replace the rotors would probably add about $50 a wheel to the brake job on this car. I’d say that’s worth risking to avoid the hassle of renting a car or staying in a hotel or whatever.

The only thing I’d be worried about is if it’s making the noise and vibrating even when the pedal isn’t applied, but if it’s only doing it when she’s actually braking (and the car seems to be stopping fine) I’d say risk the drive home, try to take it easy on the brakes and just be mindful of if it seems to be getting worse or anything.

yep, 99.9% chance Shagnasty has it. Rough, grinding feel/sound usually means one or more of the brake pads has worn away and the (steel) pad backing plate is now contacting the rotor.

given this piece of information, I’m willing to bet that one of the calipers is is stuck on its slide, and only the inboard pad was doing any work. thus, it’ll wear out faster.

ETA: there is one other situation which will give you a rough feel and sound, and that’s if the car has sat in damp, rainy conditions for a day or so. The cast-iron rotors build up a layer of surface rust which will give you that feel when you get underway, but it normally goes away after a few applications of the brakes.

“Rough” is a broad range. Only when using the brakes? When turning? If you’ve scrupulously followed a brake maintenance program, I would be considering other options such as loose lugs or broken belt in the tire. Possibly a bent rim. More than just brakes give a rough feel. That’s why knowing when the problem appears.

Disc brakes have a tab that contacts the rotor when the pad wears to the replacement point. This will make a scratchy or other sound to indicate to the driver it is time for replacement. Hopefully this is what is going on with your car. Jacking and removing the wheel will give easy inspection to see what is going on.

A lot of larger fix it places like Pep Boys have a drop off box mounted on the door or side of the building where you can fill out a card re the problem, tag your car with the tear off portion of the card and drop the key, problem card and envelope into the box. Unless you have a car carrier or extended AAA towing package (the annual AAA premier package covers a 200 mile tow and is $ 122) just go pick her up and make it a road trip.

Those do work. I had a breakdown in Lee, FL (population about 350) at 11 pm on a weekend. My destination was Gainesville right at 100 miles away which was the limit for my towing coverage. I had AAA Gold coverage and it paid off big time for that one. A towing company showed up with a giant flatbed truck to load my mid-sized SUV and he took me there while I slept in the cab. We got to our destination at about 4 am. The total cost was $0 dollars. AAA has saved my ass so many times it is ridiculous. Everyone should have one of their higher coverage levels because it is so cheap. You don’t even need to be the owner of the car. You just need to be there when they provide service and sign for it. I have had lots of people pulled out of ditches, had their cars unlocked and everything else just by being a member present. Those long tows pay for multiple years of membership fees for a single use on their own.

Well if the two hundred miles is all freeway she only has to stop once…
Now if it is in a rural road with stop signs and traffic she would have to use the brakes a lot.
If she feels comfortable she can probably drive home. If not get it looked at on Tuesday.

For me, how does she drive, how car smart is she, the route, the 2 other passengers are a big point, how do they feel?

You drive there, you take her car, she takes your car & passengers, follows you and if it gets dangerous, park the broke one and all go home and worry about it Tuesday.

If you are the lessor driver in anyway she drive the bad car and you do the passengers.

I lot depends on what the passengers want. Can they afford the motel bill, be away from home overnight or longer, will they expect you to pay the motel bills, have a SO who would like or be willing to make the rescue run?

Makes no difference what I would do or could do or be comfortable doing. It is all about you and the three on the other end.

You need more info before deciding anything IMO.

Example 1: I just replaced the pads on my car about a year ago. it started making a grinding noise 2 weeks ago. It would then set up a cascading resonance. I was just getting ready to pull the brakes and look at them when the sound completely went away. probably picked up a small pebble in the pad and it ground itself out. slight damage could be seen on the rotor. Sound improved while braking hard while it was going on.

Example 2: brakes made a grinding sound that quickly turned into something so horrible I had to stop using the front brakes and just use the parking brake to limp home. Not advisable under any circumstances but I used back roads. Hard braking increased the problem if not creating it. The rotors had 190K miles on them and large chunks of metal spalled off like slate rock. Never seen anything like it in.

Example 3: brakes making noise and quickly faded out. Calipers locked.

Example 4: Car resonating badly at certain exhaust frequencies. Didn’t matter if it was my muffler or another vehicles driving by. Wheel bearing shot.

Example 5: rear brakes rattling and seemed to grab a little. Drum brakes were loose and backing the car up and braking repeatedly adjusted them.

There are all manner of mechanical problems it could be. If they know which wheel the sound is coming from they can pull the wheel and take pictures of what they see and send it to you.

So -------- is she home and what was the result?