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Volkswagen Jetta Brakes and Rotors



  • thess02thess02 Posts: 32
    The brake rotors are made of cast iron and will develop surface rust after rain or high humidity situations when the car is not being driven. You will hear the surface rust being scrubbed off when braking initially. This is normal until the surface rust has been removed by the brake pads.
  • dthemandtheman Posts: 5
    Same car: 2008 Jetta SE 2.5L. My brakes are suddenly depressing all the way to the floor and the passenger side pads look like they are gone. I have only 31,000 and the dealer did an inspection at 29,000 when they replaced the transmission under warranty. This is WAY too early for brakes to wear out, and the driving has been mostly highway. I am curious: the manual says I should get a light if the fluid is low or the pads are low, but I am getting no warning lights. Is this itself a defect? I plan to get the car into the dealer ASAP and am assuming I should not drive the car except to the dealer.
  • I didn't have a light come on either. Yes, take the car in to the dealership. The dealership explained that the mechanic must not have taken the wheel off to check the pads but must have just looked instead. It's a continual problem. I filed a complaint with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Perhaps if enough of us file a complaint, then VW will be forced to deal with the defects. Here's the link: 8a0c/
  • thess02thess02 Posts: 32
    You didn't state rear or front brake pads worn so I will assume it's the rear pads. Only the front pads have wear sensors. As the pads wear, the brake pedal will depress further and the brake fluid reservoir level will be lower. This is normal. As I stated in earlier posts, I remove the wheels to check brake pad wear. I rotate tires myself at 10,000 mile intervals and check for wear with a $10.00 digital caliper I bought at Harbor Freight. The Bentley shop manual states 2mm thickness is minimum for the pads. I went ahead and replaced mine before that at about 5mm. If memory serves, new pads start with about 13mm of friction material. If you only have one set of pads (1 wheel) wearing more than the others, there is a problem in the caliper (pistons sticking) or parking brake (adjustment). My parking brake adjustment was way too tight. Rear pads will cost about $60.00 - $70.00 at the dealership, plus labor. If the pads wear to their metal backing plates, the rotors will need replacing. I bought aftermarket pads at Autozone for $21.00. The Autozone pads have a lifetime replacement warranty...when they wear out, I get a new set free...not so with the VW pads. There is a problem with the Jetta rear calipers in my opinion. When I replaced the rear pads on my Jetta, I noticed a bit more force necessary to rotate the driver side caliper piston in to make clearance for the new pads. The passenger side rotated with less required force. Not coincidenatally, the driver side pads were more worn (thinner) than the passenger side. I didn't want to damage the rubber dust seal on the caliper piston, so I didn't investigate further. I believe there is either a manufacturing defect in the piston threads not being matched/cut properly grease/anti-seize on the piston threads. I also think the parking brake adjustments are not being done properly coming from the factory. The dealerships probably won't mess with readjustment because it's a pain. The rear half of the center console has to be disassembled to get access to the primary adjuster nut. It's hard to believe your transmission needed replacing but with the Jetta 6 speed tiptronic, fluid level can't be checked with a dipstick so the fluid may have been too low coming from VW when the car was built. I'm pricing fluid/filter kits for my car now as I have 62,000 miles on mine. Looks like around $145.00 for everything.
  • jetta7jetta7 Posts: 17
    Did you ever experience chatter, or shudder in the front end at certain speeds, or when stopping with this vehicle?
  • Mine were the rear brakes. The dealership finally replaced the calipers as the emergency brake was sticking.
  • thess02thess02 Posts: 32
    Well..hopefully, the new calipers fixed your problem. Good luck.
  • dthemandtheman Posts: 5
    Thanks for this info. The car still stops fine; but if I keep pressure on the brake it gradually descends to the floor. This occurs after the car has stopped. I am taking it to the dealer. From previous experience I usually find it's much cheaper to fix brakes anywhere but the dealer, so I really don't want the dealer to fix it unless there is some warranty coverage. Normally brakes would not be covered, but is there a chance there is a defect or improper setting here?
  • dthemandtheman Posts: 5
    I have not experienced any chatter or shutter.
  • thess02thess02 Posts: 32
    If the pedal goes to the floor, there is definitely a problem. There could be a leak in the vacuum booster or a problem with the master cylinder. I agree with not wanting to go to the dealer. Mine has a pretty incompetent service department. I'm an aircraft mechanic and pretty much a stickler for details. The clowns at my dealership have given my car back in worse shape than when I dropped it off. They have only touched my car for some warranty issues...but man, they would all be fired if they were wrenching on airplanes. Have your brakes looked at ASAP.
  • dthemandtheman Posts: 5
    Thank you. I will post the results. The dealer shop here in San Francisco has been very friendly and competent so far.
  • dthemandtheman Posts: 5
    Update on my trip to the dealer. At 31,000 miles the back brake pads are almost worn out while the front brakes are at 95 percent good. No other problems were found, they said. They had no explanation for why the brake pedal would change so immediately and dramatically. They just said "that's German cars." I could tell from the representative's voice that he wasn't convinced by his own answers.

    I think I'm a pretty fair-minded guy. I have owned cars for 35 years, mostly Japanese. And just from a layman's point of view, this seems absurd.

    They said there was no service bulletin on the problem. I said there was a whole blog section on Edmonds on the problem. No response.

    I'm going to ask them to document whether or not they checked on the parking brake. I will go elsewhere to replace the pads and get another opinion. Any other suggestions?
  • thess02thess02 Posts: 32
    I would ask the service dept or wherever you take the car for the brake work to look for fluid leaks at the calipers, master cylinder, and lines. I would also have the mechanic check each caliper parking brake piston for roughness when they rotate the pistons in to make clearance for the new pads. If there is resistance or roughness when they rotate the pistons in...the calipers are defective. The parking brake cable adjustment needs to be accomplished when new pads are installed on the rear calipers. And lastly, I know it's early in your car's life but, you may want the mechanic to verify no air in the brake hydraulic system...have them bleed the system. The Jettas use "DOT 4" brake fluid...don't let them use DOT 3. The DOT 4 has a higher boiling point.
  • Honestly, I guarantee you it's the calipers. Mine were bad at nearly the same mileage. I filed a complaint with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. They track defects and can apply the pressure to VW to issue a recall. If they receive enough complaints then something will have to be done. I actually had to take my car to a brake repair shop to have the problem accurately diagnosed. The dealership fed me the same line they fed you. It's a load of _____. Take it back and demand new calipers. Sorry you're having the same problem. Incidentally, I had the same issue on my 2001 Jetta when it was brand new. I thought it was a one time deal until it happened on my 2008 Jetta too. :( I won't buy another VW after this and this is my third one.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    edited April 2010
    My goodness, it is simple to tell of the brakes are dragging...

    1)jack it up and try to spin the wheels by hand.
    2)Stop in rest-area after traveling at speed. Try to use brakes as little as possible. Check if the lugnuts are hot to the touch.

    If the above 2 tests do not indicate dragging brakes, then the calipers are releasing as expected and are not the problem.

    In my many years of experience, I can tell you that it is VERY VERY UNLIKELY that both rear calipers have started to stick at the same time.

    You need to look for someting in common that could cause this to happen to BOTH rear brakes. Most likely suspect is the emergancy-brake not releasing completely, or cables are too tight.

    Also keep in mind that VW has a history of installing 'softer' brakepads on the rear so they get more 'bite' into the rotors. It is pretty common for VWs to wear the rear faster than the fronts. If you do not like this happening, then install brakepads which are harder material. (not factory components)...then you can forget about this issue ever happening again. Here are a selection of pads you can chose from They run about $30 for you 2008...unless you chose ceramic.

    I beleive with the above comments, I have coverd virtually every nuance of the problem you are having with the rear brakes wearing faster than you expect...and NONE of them rise to the level of a "recall" which some folks seem to think. Is it even worth arguing over $30 worth of parts?
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Certainly brakes wearing out at 31K mi is not going to result in a recall. While the vehicle owner may know that the way they drive should mean that the brakes last longer, the people at the dealership or NHTSA are certainly not going to know this and will most likely just assume that the car did a lot of stopping in 31K mi and this wore out the brake pads.

    You mention "soft" pads on the rear, are these organic pads rather than semi-metallic or ceramic...just curious.

    I know that pad wear can vary greatly. We have a 1997 Windstar and the first two sets of front pads were OEM and went about 50K mi each. Then I got a set of cheap Motorcraft pads from the ford dealer and way the vehicle was used also changed about the same time. These pads did not last even 25K mi. (and also made the brakes less effective).
  • Rear calipers sticking on one car, causing excessive brake wear, would not be a problem. The recurrence of this issue IS a problem. Additionally, my brake pads were were not to the level of needing replacement. My parking brake was stuck in the engaged position. This cost nearly $600. This does indeed warrant a recall. It's not about the brakes. It's not about the brake material. It's about faulty calipers in multiple models. I could've replaced the brakes a zillion times but that would not have solved the problem.
  • The way I see here, a lot of people are having the same problem with the brakes as I'm having.
    I took my Jetta to my mechanic because of squeaking noises and was told my rear pads were low and needed to be replaced. After the work was done and driving for about 20 minutes I smelled something and stopped the car and saw smoking coming out of the rear passenger side. Called the mechanic and was told it could be grease from the mechanic's hand and if it did not go away to bring it back.
    Since it stopped I did not brought it back. They after the smell and smoke came back but it was Sunday. My wife took it back on Monday and they said it was a problem with the caliper. They ordered and got the part 1 week later, but it was ok because I did not see any more smoke. After they replace the caliper, I drove for about 5 minutes and felt the brakes very low and had to return to the shop for then to check on the fluid. They bled all the lines just to be sure and told me it was ok.
    I drove for about 10 minutes and smelled burning again and after I got out of the car a lot of smoke was coming from the rear tire. I called the mechanic and they had the car towed back to the shop. My mechanic adjusted the brakes again and told me it was probably a problem with the master cylinder and I should have it checked by the VW dealer which I did the day after(04/24). They checked the car and said that nothing was wrong with the brakes. But today 04/25 my wife was driving the car again and she felt the burning smell is back.
    What should I do???
  • @Marcondes,

    Call your State's Attorney General's office. Many states have a Lemon Law. In Missouri, if you take your car to a dealership 3 times, and the issue still isn't fixed, then they can step in using the Lemon Law to force them to take action. Regardless, the Attorney General's Office of Consumer Affairs can give you advice. Did they replace both calipers? They did on mine. The parking brake was remaining engaged on my brakes causing smoking and burning too. Make sure you keep the paperwork so you have documentation to support your claim. Also, visit to file a complaint. If we all file a complaint, then perhaps VW will be forced to deal with these problems. :( Good luck.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    But he only went to the dealer once, after the other shop sent him there.
  • markm001markm001 Posts: 1
    Bpeebles, the issue isn't that the brakes are wearing out, its that 1) the rear are wearing out at such a high rate 2) the rear rotors are getting hotter than they should. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------
    A simplified explanation, engineers forgive: When a car is traveling forward and brakes are applied, the inertia of the sprung mass (everything supported by the springs) shifts forward and down. This means the vertical component of reaction forces is greater at the front wheels than the rear . This translates into a greater friction force at the front wheels and thus stopping power. If you are designing a brake system to stop a car in the shortest distance possible you rely on these front wheels to do the majority of the braking. It is almost universally true that a cars front pads wear out faster than the rear because they do most of the work. It is almost universally true that most cars which have 4-wheel discs also show more brake dust build-up on the front wheels as evidence of this. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------

    So, in a round about technical way, I'm essentially saying that the VW dealers are lying when they say that VW has intentionally designed a car that doesn't follow this design. I've had one saleman say it was the ESP system applying the brakes to the rear, I've had another saying that the rear brakes on VW's do more fo the braking. In either case, is was simply examples of "They all do that".
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------
    The hot rear rotors and premature wear strongly suggest that either 1) VW has a bad design (I suspect the emergency brake auto adjust mechanism), 2) the parts are not being manufactured or assembled properly or 3) a little bit of both. I'm inclined to believe the last option.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    edited May 2010
    I agree with all you have said.

    In summary:
    *)If rear brakes are simply wearing faster than you expect... .this is NORMAL for VWs and is easily corrected by installing harder pads than original equipment.
    *)If rear rotors are running hot all the time (even when not using brakes) then there is a problem.

    NOTE: If BOTH rear rotors are running hot.. it is VERY unlikey that the problem is the calipers or the internal parking-brake mecanism.... In such cases, suspect the parking-brake lever is not adjusted properly. (or sticking on)

    Personally, I use my parking brake EVERY TIME the vehicle is parked and have never-EVER had an issue.

    It is more likely to be problematic for someone who only uses the parking brake occasionally. This is because the moving parts do not stay 'loosend up' and are likely to stick in the 'applied' position... even when the lever appears to be released.
  • 2008__jetta2008__jetta Posts: 16
    I use my parking brake every time too. I've still had problems...twice. I have a 5-speed. Is yours automatic? By the way, the paint is again chipping off of the hood again. The dealership has already repainted the hood once. Apparently there was some defect when the car was initially painted. Suggestions?
  • chordmanchordman Posts: 1
    My Mk 5 2008 Jetta SE made horrible squealing sound at 5,00 miles. Took it in to Murrieta, CA. Nothing they can do. But, noise was reduced (I think they sprayed something on the pads). At 13,000 the squealing returned with a vengeance....horrible and loud. Like a school bus, or big semi. Took back to Murrieta. "Out of wear and tear warranty. But, we'll do free brake check." Turns out emerg brake cable was too tight, which caused squeezing on caliper. $375 to replace pads and turn rotors (and of course, adjust the brake cable). Well, I asked the dealer for a "comp" b/c I've never had brakes go out so soon in 25 years of driving! They said no. So, I called VW Corp, which was a complete joke. They sent me an "apology" letter with the BBB number. I called BBB, presented the facts and filed a claim. I received a check four weeks later. Everyone should use BBB to help them in this situation. I definitely think VW has a serious design flaw. I wrote and filed a report with NHTSA for possible recall list. If enough people do this, maybe VW will have to issue a recall and/or reimburse people their money. :shades:
  • Wow, I should've filed through the BBB too.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    If your paint is peeling a 2nd time... they did not prep the surface properly. They must have taken some "shortcuts" when they painted it.
  • ops2ops2 Posts: 6
    2010 JSW TDI Manual. ~13K. Left rear wheel, tire, and wheel well hot/warm to the touch after 30 minute drive. Left rear barely warm. Is that waste heat from the exhaust, or a symptom of the sticky caliper issue (I *think* there was an odor, but I've got wicked case of allergies at the moment and couldn't smell a garbage truck). FWIW, I use the parking brake routinely. What should I be looking for on the disk as evidence of/lack of problem?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Sounds as if your left rear caliper is not releasing completely. This could be a sticking left parking-brake cable.... or just not adjusted properly. However, it could also be caliper-sliders or even the caliper itself.

    Given the age of the vehicle, It is unlikely that the cable or the sliders are old enough to give troubles.
  • Same issue. i have a 2009 Jetta Sportwagen SE and at 20k my rear pads were shot. I know these are wearable parts but 20k is simply too soon to be replacing pads. The fronts were still at 75% so not too bad.

    I took mine into Rusty Wallis here in Dallas and Dimitry, the head Service Tech, called VW and got me my rear pads for free. Dimitry is a great guy and i highly recommend him.

    Turns out while they put the rear pads on they also discovered my parking cable was too tight and need to be adjusted. This may have caused some of the issue.

    This parking cable issue should be checked by all dealers before the car leaves the lot.
  • If everyone who experienced this problem filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, then a recall could be issued. It's not about being petty. It's about safety! Someone's brakes are going to go out and end up causing a crash. This is obviously a defect in VWs that needs to be addressed.
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