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Volkswagen Jetta Brakes and Rotors

I have a '99 new body jetta, vr6, standard, with about 116k miles. About 2 years ago the brake rotors and pads were replaced by my mechanic b/c there was grooving on the rotors and a noticeable pulsing in the steering wheel when the brakes were applied. About 5 months later, the same symptoms appeared.

Befuddled, my mechanic thought perhaps defective rotors were installed. Genuine VW parts were not used. Because he was very skeptical, and had never seen rotors fail that quickly, he looked for any other brake related problems. They changed a brake line, and one other thing I cannot remember, but had explained to me that every possible thing that could be changed/fixed was the 2nd time they changed the rotors and pads again. He questioned my braking style. However, my argument was why would I not need rotors for the first 7 years of my car's driving history with me, have them replaced and then have my braking style make the rotors fail about 6 months later. Driver error didn't seem to make sense.

So...Here I am now with an appt. to change the rotors again, this time using genuine VW rotors. I am feeling like this is a bandaid approach and have fears that even with the VW rotors, I will end up with the same pulsating when the brakes are applied. The pulsating always starts out small and barely noticeable, as it progressively gets worse and worse. Someone suggested going to a new mechanic but I have been loyal to this shop b/c they are good guys and I have never had trust issues with them. The first time I paid for a full repair. The second time they only charged me for the parts. I do not know what they plan to do for this 3rd rotor replacement as far as the bill but I would be nervous to start somewhere new and the dealer's hourly charges are outrageous.

Any thoughts on what is going on with my braking system? Thanks! Kim


  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Welcome to CarSpace. :)
  • jetta7jetta7 Posts: 17
    Check the ABS system, if you have ABS
  • I have a 2005 Jetta. At 40,000 miles I'm having to replace the rear brakes a second time. I've never had to do the fronts. My mechanic says this is how the german cars go. They brake harder on the rear brakes than the front. Having been a mechanic for years, I'm a bit skeptical. As far as I know no car in the world brakes that way.
    So, am I wrong when I think this is not proper brake wear? And if so, any ideas.
  • jetta7jetta7 Posts: 17
    There has to be a problem with the brakes. If you didn't buy the car new, perhaps the incorrect type pads were installed. I have a 2003 Jetta Station Wagon, TDI, and I just changed the pads for the first time, at 75,800, and still had plenty of pad left. I also changed the rotors, since it was cost effective.
    I hope this helps in some way.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    I was told the same thing, that VWs tend to need rear brakes before fronts. Can't yet say if this has proven true for us as have not had to do brakes yet.
  • I'm the original owner of a 2002 GLX VR6. I just put rear brakes on at 95,000 miles. The fronts are still 70-80%. This car sees alot of highway miles and that saves the pads. Jetta rear brakes always go first, though.
  • homerkchomerkc Posts: 113
    I was told the same thing about "German cars" by the dealer where I bought my 2007 Jetta (brake dust from rear wheels was excessive.) Since that's NOT how front wheel cars work, with their high front weight bias, I took my car to another dealer. They spoke with VW and found that the rear calipers were bad - on some number of cars - and replaced mine with new and improved parts. It now works fine. Don't know if that was a problem in 2005 as well, but you may want to ask your dealer.
  • I took my 2006 Jetta TDI in for regular check at 11000 miles. I was informed that the rear disc brake pads were 70% worn already. I said "that is a bit premature isn't it"? They didn't really say it was or not and did tell me that it would cost $340 approximately for a brake job on the rear. I too though that most of the percentage of braking force was on the front and not the rear. My brakes have squeaked at least once a day. When I go to stop for the first or second time after just starting out on a drive, the brakes make a horrible noise sometimes. After driving through some switch-backs in the mountains, I can hear the rear brakes trying to slow me down on each curve with what sounds like a grinding noise. And there is way more brake dust on the rear then the front. So is this all normal? Before this car I had a 2004 New beetle TDI and it did have a dragging rear caliper that needed replaced early. what's the difference between the two brake systems besides the front wheel drive vs rear wheel drive and the Jetta out weighs the Beetle by 220 lbs? I drove both cars in the same manner. Is it possible that the brakes are under engineered as in the case for 1999 Chevy Suburbans where the brake was not capable of handling the weight of the vehicle and would wear prematurely?
  • jetta7jetta7 Posts: 17
    I Changed all four brake rotors and brake pads on my 2003 Jetta station wagon, TDI, Diesel, at 75,800 miles, and still had plenty of pad left. I decided to change the rotors, only because the old ones were badly rusted in the fin area, which helps to cool the rotors. I got the four rotors and pads from Advance Auto Parts at a cost of $197.24, with no core charge. Advance Auto Parts will sell you the special tool kit to install the pads, and when you have done the repairs, they will buy back the tool at full price, essentially, it is a tool loan.
    If you have used up the pads in as little as 11,000 miles, one of two things have occurred; 1. You did not need new pads, or 2. There is a malfunction of the brake system.
    I hope this helps you.
    Recommendation: Always have the mechanic show you the condition of the pads, or any other part, while it is still on the vehicle. You can also do a visual inspection by looking at the brake caliper through the rim, or from under the vehicle.
  • Thanks for your advice Jetta7. Today before getting your advice via this site, I had taken my Jetta to its 9am appointment and discussed the problem with the service manager and he said they have know about the rear brake problem for 2 months now and agreed to replace the pads and rotors for free under warrantee, NO PROBLEM. Boy was I happy. We will see if we have anymore problems in the future with the brakes. Thanks again for your advice. By the way my service manager also said that the brake % ratio is approx 60% (front) and 40% (rear) at this time.
  • For anyone that is having issues with their MKV JETTA/RABBIT/GTI, the braking systems in most german cars rely mostly on the rear brakes to stop the car. When VW released the fifth generation models of the Jetta, Rabbit, and GTI, some of the vehicles had either faulty rear brake assemblies or the emergency brake on the vehicle was not adjusted to the rear braking system correctly. The fifth generation vw models will go through rear brake pads in about 25k miles, where as the front pads will last 60k miles and further. The rear brake calipers are gripping the rotors in the rear too hard and are sometimes dragging. This partly has to do with the emergency brake, which is stupidly attached to the rear brake cylinder. If you pull up too hard on the emergency brake, the rear brake calipers will grip the rear rotors too firmly and possibly re-adjust the brake pads to be closer to the rotor, therefore leaving you with a shorter brake pad life and some annoying sqweaking noises from the rear. Your dealer can adjust this for you, but try to not use your emergency brake at all. If you own a manual transmission, put the car in first or second gear and then turn the car off, thus allowing the first gear to hold the car in place. If you must use your emergency brake, pull up on it slowly and allow it to click a few times, but it should never be as high up as a 45 degree angle. I hope this helps anyone. If you have any questions about this, post back. I am very knowledgeable about VW/Audi products, so feel free to ask questions.
  • Can I ask which dealer you went to? I'd like to know that so if my local dealer tells me to pi55 off, I can contact them. Thx.
  • Sweet! Thanks Roy, that was quick. I'm contacting that dealer today, everybody. I'll get the VW service bulletin number for this problem so the rest of you can take that number to the dealer and get your brakes fixed.

    I have a 2006 Jetta, and my front pads have 75% pad left, while the rear are cutting rotor.

    Mileage? 65,000.... but 50,000 of those are all highway miles without me stepping on the brakes. In reality, I have about 20,000 or less equivalent city miles on the car. Brakes should last at LEAST 50,000, as evidenced by my 'faster wearing' front pads at 75% pad left.

    And I noticed someone mention rear brakes wear faster on 4 wheel disc cars. They're not supposed to. Proof? Look at the front brakes on a Jetta. They have a brake wear sensor attached to the computer with a wire coming right off the pad. No such thing on the rear. VW expects the front pads to wear first.
  • Roy....Apparently, the EBrake is designed in such a way, that the more you crank on the brake, the farther the adjusters go.

    For those that don't know what I mean, rear brakes (that have the Emergency Brake) have a mechanical adjustment that pushes the brake piston out more and more as the rear brakes wear. On older drum brakes, each time you put the car in reverse and hit the brakes, a little lever comes down and pushes against a sprocket, which turns a bolt, which pushes the shoes out more. However, with the old drum brakes, if the pads hadn't yet worn down yet, the little lever wouldn't hit the little sprocket, so the pads wouldn't be pushed farther out until ready.

    Apparently on the VW (and maybe other) rear disc brakes, it adjusts each time you put the Ebrake on, and the more you crank on the handle, the more it adjusts the pads out. I'm not positive of that, but sure enough.

    I've taken to putting the Ebrake on just 2 clicks. That has held the car with the clutch pushed down, even on a hill.

    It looks like everyone will get a full 50,000 minimum out of the front pads. Mine have a ton of pad left, with 65K on the car. (Highway, mind oyu...) Both Autozone and Advance have lifetime rear pads for less than $30, and it takes 30 minutes to change the pads each side, so I'll just replace them every 50K for a one-time cost of $30.

    What VW really needs to do, is start putting wear sensors on the back, and wire them in series with the front pad sensors. If the rear brakes wear first, that's where the sensor should be. I smell a recall.... the brakes are a major safety component.
  • Also.... the bolts that hold on the rear caliper mount to the hub.....NOT the bolts that hold the caliper to the caliper hub..... take a #19 'triple square' driver. (#19 star driver) according to the dealer.

    The caliper mount needs removed to remove the rear rotors.

    I don't know where to buy one yet, but it is NOT a torx driver. Don't attempt to use a torx, or you will destroy the bolt.
  • Alright. Talked to the service manager at the dealer in Tenn. There is no service bulletin yet, but 'every VW dealer in the country' should be well aware of the problem, says he.

    The problem is three fold:

    1. VW feels the brake pad material doesn't have enough metal in it. I've seen the pad, and it looks like it has a lot MORE metal than other pads, but spectrum analyze the pad I didn't.
    2. The emergency brake is maladjusted from the factory.
    3. People are cranking on the EB too much. 2,3 clicks max, or the adjusters will push the pad too far out.

    They have been replacing the rear brakes for ALL CUSTOMERS with this problem.

    I'm calling my dealer.....
  • Hey John, I did forget to mention that they did not have a service bulletin yet but they were still taking care of the problem. I am wondering, the rear pads should be the same ones in the front and I wonder if the front will ever give me problems. I was never told about the EB being set to hard that I can remember, so I guess I will be careful with that as well. John thanks for your inputs on this matter. keep in touch....Roy
  • Has anyone found out where to pick up the "#19 star driver" to remove the brake carrier yet. I asked the dealer and of course that have no idea where to get one. I've asked Snap-on and Northern Tools and so are no response on it. Any one else have any luck?
  • jetta7jetta7 Posts: 17
    You can rent a brake tool kit from Advance Auto Parts. This is done by buying the kit, usually about $100, and when you finished, you can return the kit for a full refund. The kit includes the special piston presses, star drives, and various other tools. Other parts stores may do the same. It does not hurt to check with them.
  • Can anyone tell me if the rear brakes that are wearing down prematurely is a factory defect? And how long VW delarship has known about this problem? Also, if they knew of this defect should they have let vw certified pre-owned car sell without dicloseing this face?
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