Edited: I received photos from the shop and I’m wondering if this changes any opinions.
I have a 2016 Chevy Malibu LT 1.5L in Florida that we’ve had for going on 1.5 years. I’m sorry this is so lengthy.
I want to better understand and also confirm if the diagnosis we were given could be legitimate. I’m not a mechanic so to me it’s not making sense.
Our car has been running perfectly, no noises or any giveaways there was an issue. We went to leave in our car after using the car just an hour prior. When we reversed, there was a pulsating of the brakes which felt like the ABS had engaged. No warning lights appeared. We went forward and then back again to try and pinpoint what was going on.
We noticed it was only in reverse so we decided to go forward and see what would happen. After going only 100 ft max, we pressed the brakes normally to slow down but the car responded more like we had slammed on the brakes. There were still no warning lights on the dash. We took it back home where we parked it and left the car.
A few minutes after leaving I got a warning alert through the Chevy app that there was an issue with my ABS and something to the effect that if there were no warning lights I needed to take it to the shop. Two hours later we returned home. We decided to give it a better look and at this point our check engine light was on, no other warning lights.
After reading info we decided to pull the ABS fuses just to see if the problem still occurred. Mainly we hoped it wouldn’t so we could drive our car to the shop instead of towing it. The result was that other than the brakes feeling more stiff, for lack of a better word, the pulsating was gone. This was however a short experiment so we didn’t drive it extensively to really test it out.
Fast forward we decide to tow it to the shop and this is the diagnosis they gave.
- Replace Front Brakes and Rotors (that can’t be cut) due to heavy rust.
- Replace Rear Brakes and Rotors due to the heavy rust AND they assume the calipers locked up which is the pulsating we felt. The calipers etched (?) the rotors. So, Pads, rotors and calipers in the rear.
- They were able to see the ABS code that it threw but they aren’t entirely sure why and they thought perhaps because the calipers locked up it may have triggered the ABS code. I don’t know the exact code.
Now, they asked if we knew if the car came from up North, which we aren’t sure. That was the suggestion they gave as a possibility for the rust because it didn’t make sense to us. However, we’ve had our car in the shop on multiple occasions, the most recent being 5 months ago for tires.
If the rust is so bad the rotors can’t be saved wouldn’t the rust be noticed then? It isn’t sitting unused as it is our daily driver.
Also, can calipers lock up and not make noise? We never heard noise of any sort prior to this that would give away the idea that something was going wrong.
If the calipers locked up for the first time when we were reversing could they have done damage to the rotor in only a few presses of the brakes?
If the brakes and rotors are heavily rusted, wouldn’t we hear some of the tell tale noises that brake make under those circumstances?
Lastly, if it was the calipers and brakes causing the pulsating and odd hard brake stop why would the problem go away when the ABS fuses were pulled?
This is the Chevy dealer we’ve been taking our vehicle to and I want to feel comfortable with their diagnosis. Everything I’ve said here is what they’ve told us when we’ve tried to better understand it.
I have not been to the shop since they called this afternoon to visually see what they are seeing. I’m just trying to understand how all of this could actually line up because obviously I’m not a mechanic.