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Springthing it's time to vent. Brakes on 1999 Suburban K2500. (Part 1)

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W. T. H?

I'm serious right now...wth is up with this stuff??

First, let me say....this is primarily me, venting. I've said most of this stuff before but now I need to get it all out.

I don't even know where to start.

I've had this Suburban for a few years. In that time I've had to replace the front pads four times. I've looked around, I've done some research, and I understand that the brakes for this truck aren't top notch. It won't stop on a dime, it's not a perfect system, I understand that.

I used to go to Shop1 to get all my automotive work done. I liked it because they worked with me, if they were having trouble finding parts or knew something was expensive (mostly for the '85 Alfa Romeo we have) they'd let me shop around and supply the parts.

After the first visit I knew I was in for quite an interesting time with this truck when it came to a lot of the repairs. It's one of those where the mechanics go "OOOohh.... you have THAT kind of Thingamagiggy".

My first clue was the shop saying "Oh, we can't turn those rotors...we don't have an adapter for those, those are huge. We can't even send them to O'Reilly to get done."

So I went ahead, bought a second set of rotors and now I go to the dealership, have it turned and stick them in my garage until I need to swap them out, then I take out the old ones, take them to get turned and let the shop install the ones that already got done. since my second set of pads I'd mentioned that the truck is tough to stop. I don't feel like I'm getting full braking power. So on my third set of pads I decided, look, just do the rear brakes as well. New shoes, new drums...whatever.

So they did. Took it out for a spin and noticed it still wasn't stopping with the rears as it should be so they adjusted the dials to their fullest in the back and said that's as much braking as I can get back there.

Well, this last time I went to get the pads done I took the truck to a different shop. Maybe they could get things going right.

So I go in there, tell them I need to get pads done and I'd need to know when so I can go and get my rotors turned.

"Oh, it's ok, we can do that here."

Here we go.

"No, you won't be able to - the rotors are too big, you won't be able to turn them."

"No, no, it's ok, we have all the adapters and all so we can handle car, truck..all of them."

"Actually you can't with these, I'm sure, no one ever can, really. Not even O'Reilly is able to do it, I have to take them up to the dealership to get done. I have them with me if you want to have a look."

"Ya, bring them on in. You can actually just leave them here and by the time the pads come in and you get back in the afternoon we'll have them ready to do."

I go out - I get ONE - walk back in and..

"OOoohhh....that's really big. I don't think we can turn that...that's...that's got to be some special aftermarket offroad braking system or something."

"Well, that's stock but, like I said, I didn't think you'd be able to turn them. So I'll go get them done and then I should be back in time for you to put the pads on unless you don't think you'll have time today. I can come back tomorrow."

"Oh nonono, it won't take more than a 1/2 hour or so."

Ya. Ok. Sure.

So off I go to the dealership. It's just after noon. I know I'll be back after two or so, they'll have a hell of a time doing the brakes, but....whatever. Maybe they'll be able to do it right.

Get on back to Shop2 and tell them the rotors are in the back, the keys are in the truck, have fun.

Not 5 minutes later the mechanic comes in and says "I can't say I've ever worked on a truck like yours before. That front end is have to take off the whole front wheel hub/assembly to get to the rotors, then the studs need to be punched out to put in the new rotors...I don't know that we'll be able to do it before 5. I mean I should be able to but this is going to take a while, I just wanted you to know."

"I know. That's what I was telling [the guy at the counter]. It's not an easy job."

"Well, we'll have to price out 16 studs to replace the ones on there now because there's no way of getting those ones out without damaging them, really. So we'll call and see if we can get those here right now."

So I tell them whoa. Wait. No. Thanks.

"If you have a press you can press them out, if not, they'll come out with you knocking them out. Just get a nut on the stud so you don't damage them, and beat them out slowly. They'll pop out."

Soooooo....after a little bit jeff [aka guy at the counter] comes in and says well, they'll try to get the studs out but he says you're probably better off getting new studs. They're about $8 each so...another $128 on top of it.

I promptly say "ya, b/s. He can get them out...I'm not going to be getting a whole new set of studs every time I get pads done. That's ridiculous. Just pop the old ones out."

Then again I wait and mechanic comes back in after some time and gives me the bad news, which didn't shock me too much.

Well, apparently I need new front wheel bearings. The one on the passenger side is leaking and the one on the driver's side isn't far behind. They'd need to order them in but they need to get done because they're in bad shape.

Oh, and the pads wore very unevenly so the calipers on both sides will need replaced as well. That's what's causing the bad braking issue.

(Nooooooo....the bad braking issue is, at least mostly, because I. have. no. rear. brakes.)

So again Jeff clickety-clicks at the keyboard...

$360 for the bearings.
$156 for the calipers.
$1032.00 plus shop time.

Bite. Me.

I asked if they install customer supplied parts or if they have to have their own supplied parts.

"No we do install customer supplied parts. We just can't guarr-....."

...I kind of tune out because at this point it's like the flight attendant telling me, for the 50th time, how to use the seatbelts.

"....guarantee the work......the parts supplied.....guarantee the parts......not responsible...."....blah....blah....blah. I know. It's not 'your' parts so you can't guarantee the work at that point. I know.

So anyway...I tell Jeff I have good contacts for parts (aka..the internet and the GMTC forum) so I'll have to give them a call and see what I can do. I'll bring the truck back afterwhile when new parts for them to install.

Anyway! So it's just after 5pm, they finally get done. I pay the $180 for the pads and labor and I'm off back to the house.

Well, I noticed, driving home, that I can't stop. I can slow to a stop but if someone or something were to pull out in front of me they'd get a nice helping of my truck up their rear.

There's a curved downhill right next to my house so as I'm coming down it I slam on the brake with both feet, hard. And the truck keeps rolling down the hill. It slows, but just keeps going.

So I'm a little pissed. I know, though, the pads have to seat themselves before they work 100%.

I, of course, get on the forum. Give my story. Ask for advice.

I have to use the truck for a quick errand and as I'm headed there, just a mile or two, the ABS light comes on. And stays on. big deal. We'll deal with it.

After getting the advice from those on the board, I go out to get a hand pump to bleed the brakes.

Try, the next day. After 1/2 of bleeding the RR brake I still keep getting bubbles but am getting cleaner brake fluid, so I know the stuff I've added to the front has gone through the system to the RR, at least.

So I give up. Head off to Shop2 and tell them my truck isn't stopping. What's the problem? My rears don't work...or hardly do.

"Well, they just need to be adjusted."

"They did that last time, said it was adjusted as far as it would go."

"Well, you probably need to get new shoes in back."

"Actually they replaced them last time I got the fronts done and they've hardly had any use, really, so I'm guessing they're still almost new."

"Ya, well, it's probably due to the front calipers...not letting the rears proportion correctly."

"Ok, do you think you could try your hand at bleeding the system?"

"Well, we didn't open it up at all so that's not the problem for sure."

Whatever. In other words it's everything else but what you did and/or are willing to do. I gotcha.

Ok, t/y...I'll wait until the pads seat themselves and maybe that will help.

On the way home I stop at Shop3. I tell them what's happened, tell them I tried to bleed the brakes, tell them I want that as the next step, my ABS light is on, I can't stop, etc etc.

"Oh, on that truck we can't bleed them. You need to take them to the dealership to get done because it has to be done electronically. They hook the proportioning valve up..." an ABS computer electronic checker dealy blah blah blah...

Ok, I see.

So I go to the dealership and tell them the entire story. They say yes, it has to be bled electronically. First they'd have to hook it up to see what the ABS code is then they can bleed the brakes, etc etc. Come back Friday.

I go back home. Come back and report my findings to the GMTC.