I inherited Mom's 1999 car with 47K on it, it was garaged for several years. I've noticed the brakes squeal intermittently dependent on how hard the brake pedal is applied. So I had a brake inspection and was told I need to replace rear pads, rotors and one caliper. The brakes look new on 3 wheels, the pad on 4th wheel is worn more. A visual inspection of all pads if measuring in sixteenth of an inch is about 0.250" thickness on 3, the 4th wheel visually looks to be about 0.1875 less. I was told, I need new rear pads; which I agree; but I was also told I needed to replace 2 rotors and the 1 caliper on the forth wheel. I'm no auto tech but I disagree with needing rotors, the pads are thick, barely worn, they're not cutting into the rotors and are nowhere near doing so, unless something seizes up. the 4th wheel is the concern because it has less meat than the others. My understanding is the piston is at fault on 1 caliper and that's the reason the 4th wheel has less meat on the pad. Do I need to replace the caliper or can it be cleaned up and and possibly lubed if its not releasing properly? The vehicle has good stopping power. Please help, I am so tired of Shops that try to take me to the cleaners.strong text

  • Welcome to the site. I think pictures would be extremely useful here. You can add them to the question by hitting "edit"
    – Zaid
    Feb 8, 2016 at 16:07
  • Having the make/model of the car in question can give you more detailed answers. Consider updating your question as such to improve your chances of success! Thanks for posting your question here ... we are here to help and would really like to see that happen :D Feb 8, 2016 at 18:16
  • Zaid, thanks for the comment and for the welcome to this site. Car is a 1999 Lincoln Town, seen rain a half a dozen times, never snow, breaks were replaced prior to storage, the 4th pad after research, perhaps is related to the pin binding on Caliper. The 4th wheel has about 3/16 of pad left, the others look new. I realize pad depth varies contingent on vehicle application.This is about maintaining cars integrity and my safety; I am not quibbling over cost of a caliper. I am not in habit of being a meal ticket because someones perception tells them so. I wanted opinions.will change out fluid.
    – user14905
    Feb 9, 2016 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


1/16" = .0625 inches. That is what is left on rotor #4. There are some calipers that take more labor to clean up and rebuild than it is to buy new, labor costs more than the cost of the new. The condition of the rotors are the determining factor for replacement:

1) Thickness of braking surface(s). They must not be below a certain amount.

2) Grooving: if they are grooved, it is possible to have them turned, only to have them fall out of the spec from #1.

3) Color: if they are blued, glazed or have cracking, replace. A dragging caliper will heat the rotor to the point of bluing.

4) Warpage: the disc surfaces are supposed to be flat. If they are warped, replace. Easy to do with overheated brakes, especially if you have to stop. The pads will keep the heat in the area that they are contacting and the rest of the rotor will cool at a different pace, and boom warped.

Knowing the procedures and specs on how to do brakes can save you money from less than reputable shops trying to take advantage. And yes, even reputable shops sometimes take advantage too. Looking up how to do certain things will also give you an appreciation for what the tech/mech goes through, or having done it yourself. Search for 99 car model rear brake caliper rebuild. There will be a forum somewhere where someone has done it and can give pointers, if nothing else, specs on what to look for and how to look for them.


This Question and Answers do an excellent job of explaining the need or not to replace rotors.

Rotors are relatively inexpensive and if you want to ensure you brakes are effective then resurfacing the rotors or procuring new ones is a good idea. It's not necessarily about grooves in the rotors or not.

The caliper rebuild could be a few hours of flat rate labor and it's probably cheaper for you to buy the single caliper than rebuild it.

  • From having a loose nut behind the steering wheel(me) and laziness, I learned the hard way about caring for the brakes. The few times I was not able to do the job myself, and ignore the rotor condition(loose nut remember?), some of the rotors were badly grooved. They were able to justify, correctly imho, to me, that it would be cheaper to just replace the rotors than to resurface them only to have to replace them due to falling out of spec and still have to pay the labor for the resurfacing. Grooving is hard to measure accurately the depth and width of the rotors.
    – Tobin S
    Feb 9, 2016 at 5:24

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