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We have a Subaru Legacy all-wheel-drive wagon It was recently...

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Dear Tom and Ray:



We have a 1992 Subaru Legacy all-wheel-drive wagon. It was recently in to the
dealer for its five-year checkup. In addition to a tuneup and a timing-belt
change, they also installed new brakes. Now my car's brakes squeal every morning
when I back out of the driveway (that's the only time they squeal). I took the
car back and was told by the service rep that "it's our island atmosphere
causing the brakes to rust overnight" (we live near the ocean). Every guy I tell
this story to nearly doubles over in laughter! Yet the service rep told it to me
with a straight face and seemed very honest and sincere. Could he be right? --
Judy

RAY: Well, don't fall for that straight-face stuff, Judy. They teach us that at
MIT -- the Mechanic's Institute of Technobabble. If we can't say "they all do
that" with a straight face and have a nun believe us, they won't let us
graduate.

TOM: But the service rep may be right in this case. Brake rotors can quickly
build up a very thin coating of rust (which is all it takes to make a slight
crunching or squealing noise on your first brake application of the day). And if
you live right near the ocean, it's entirely possible that it could happen
overnight. And the fact that it only happens the first time you step on the
brakes, and then goes away, supports that theory.

RAY: However, arguing against that theory is the fact that it never did this
before your "five-year checkup." So one possibility is that they gave you new
pads, but didn't resurface your rotors. And if that's the case, I'd ask them to
do that.

TOM: It's also possible that they didn't apply enough of the SSG (special Subaru
grease) to the back sides of the pads. That's designed to keep the brakes from
squealing. So ask them to try that, too.

RAY: If they can't fix it, however, I wouldn't be overly concerned. I really
don't think it's a safety problem. In fact, it may be a safety advantage! You
know how those big trucks go "beep, beep, beep" to warn people when they're
backing up? Well, consider this your backup warning, Judy!

* * *

Wait! Before you buy a car, make sure you read Tom and Ray's guide, How to Buy a
Great Used Car: Things Detroit and Tokyo Don't Want You to Know." Send $3 and a
stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Used Car, PO Box 5541,
Riverton, NJ 08077-5541.
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