I have a '12 VW Passat (66k miles) and recently the rear brakes have been squealing when backing out of parking in morning and sometimes when rolling to a stop. I first thought it was just rust build up but the sound is a high pitch squeal. Also, after 5-6 mile drive to work, the rear wheels sometimes get really hot, so hot that I cannot keep my finger on alloy wheel for 10+ seconds. It does not always happen and has happened on both of the rear wheels but always one at a time.

In one such instance of heating up, I jacked up the car and tried to spin the wheel that became hot with hand, and I could spin it with 1 finger. But when I do that, I can hear a rubbing noise once every revolution.

So I took it to the dealer and they are saying that both of the rear calipers are sticking to replace them is the only option ($$$).

Are they ripping me off here?

I bought the car as a lease return in 2015 (35k miles) and have not done any brake work on it since then. The car has been in Midwest (MI/IN/KY) all its life and since I bought it, it has always been parked outside and used for <1 mile commute to work. But I do wash it every 1 or 2 weeks in winter months. Also, I am not an aggressive driver, and generally coast down to stop lights/signs.

  • It could be several things. Sticky caliper slides, something wrong with the slave cylinder (the piston in the caliper) or something warped or broken. Usually you can fix calipers yourself with a little time and lubricant, but if you're hiring it done it would probably be cheaper and a more sure fix if they replace them. Another thing which might cause this same symptom is if there were air bubbles in the brake lines, but I'm guessing they bled them already so that wouldn't be the issue. Commented May 9, 2019 at 15:05
  • No offense, but why drive it at all if your commute is <1 mile? That's a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute bicycle ride.
    – Spivonious
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 17:44
  • @Spivonious there can be lots of valid reasons why someone would commute such a distance.. being judgmental about someone's decisions isn't exactly helpful towards fixing their issue. Commented May 10, 2019 at 9:20

1 Answer 1


My 2012 Golf developed a sticky rear caliper over the winter so it isn't uncommon to find at this age of vehicle. In my case, I removed the caliper from the vehicle, stripped the piston out of the caliper on the bench, cleaned it up, fitting a replacement seal kit and refitted it to the car. This worked perfectly and the cost of the rebuild kit plus new brake fluid was negligible.

You may find that the handbrake mechanism causes issues. One tip which works on some VWs if to remove the caliper and operate the handbrake ten times. Then wind the caliper back to it's start position and repeat the process a few times. You may struggle to do this on a car equipped with an electronic handbrake however.

Given that any brake caliper can usually be rebuilt I'd be very surprised if complete replacement of both rear calipers is required.

  • 1
    Most dealers and garages don't rebuild calipers (in my experience) partly due to not always having the parts available and also the cleanliness and precision required...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 10:43
  • To add to solar mikes comment, if the caliper costs say 150 the labor rate is 120/h or whatever. Not including parts. Is it really worth the time to rebuild the caliper?
    – Ben
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 12:29
  • If it takes an hour to rebuild both calipers (which is perfectly reasonable in a fully equipped workshop), you've saved almost 200. Commented May 10, 2019 at 12:43
  • @Steve Matthews - I'll bet the shop estimate of time to rebuild two calipers is far more than 30 minutes each. Far more... And you pay the shop estimate, not actual elapsed time.
    – Tim Nevins
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 13:06
  • 1
    I pay neither. I'm sure that someone, even without the tools or skills to change the caliper seals, will be able to find a local independent specialist capable of refurbishing their otherwise serviceable calipers for a fraction of the price of two main dealer replacements, fitted. Commented May 10, 2019 at 13:43

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