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Failed Mot On Brake Imbalance


Jon Bhoy
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Hi all,

Hope all my fellow Focus drivers had a great xmas.Sadly mine car wise has been a pain.

Went to the dump yesterday with girlfriends garage rubbish we are clearing out and a plastic basket with a metal handle fell onto my nicely resprayed only a month ago bumper and left a !Removed! big new scratch.Ever seen a grown man cry at a council tip??????? ;-)

Ok did not realise my MOT was due on 5th January as i had no notice sent and first year of having the car i should have been more on the ball but got the car in today.Only thing i knew wrong was a bit of a steering judder but thought just needs tracking doing.Took it to Mr Clutch as they had a voucher code meaning MOT was only £19 and when i got back i could not believe that they told me it failed!!!

It says :

001 Parking Brake : Effiicency below requirements.

002 Brakes imbalanced across rear axle.

They gave me a print out of figures but basically said its the nearside rear thats the problem.Asked him if he had any idea what it could be and he said until he trips the brake he cant say but could be a seized cable!!! Thought that sounded a bit strange but then i have never been any good with brakes .

Also said front inner tread on both tyres was low but only as an advisory so guess its tracking and hopefully not an arm or ball joint gone etc.

So anyone got any ideas ? I know its the drum brakes on the back that are the problem but anyone had this before and any idea if its a big costs kind of thing.Got tax and insurance end of Jan too so could really do without this!!!

Cheers all and a very happy new year to everyone on the forum.

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Have to say i have used the local Mr Clutch for 5 different cars and all way cheaper than anywhere else and this is the first car to fail . Got to say i dont like the major chains but cant fault this local branch.

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for future reference if youve got a 'just mot's near you give them a try,over the years ive used the 1 in bexhill and eastbourne cant recommend them enough.they also run a book on line for a lot cheaper then ringing them up or just turning up.

as for your problem then as above,but i do wonder if they could be adjusted any more?

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Cheers Greg,to be honest it is my own mess up for not being on the ball.Usually any work i would take to one of a few mechanics i know to sort but called them all as i have to leave to girlfriends tomorrow afternoon and will be away until sunday and no one could fit me in tomorrow as i suspected and likewise saturdays were a no go as i am away but even tried mechanics local to my gf but they were choka too.Seeing as the MOT fully runs out i believe tuesday i went back with tail between legs to the local Mr Clutch.I trust them doing MOT's but as Ian seemed to point at i am not really a fan of them doing work on the car but as they are the only option before stopping me using the car then had to bite the bullet this time but i will learn to be more on the ball next year and do it the usual way i always have done . I will look into your recommendation though Greg,appreciate it :-)

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Fair enough, if their local and good to you and you trust them, I've had bad experience with them so I would never use them but every branch is different

I know what you mean Ian,i have trusted them with MOT but having them do work is another thing!Ironically i would not fancy them doing my clutch and were going to charge me almost twice what i paid to have one done in March! So we will see but this will be a one off and hopefully they wont mess up the brake in question....but then again the Titanic captain didnt think they would hit an iceberg ;-)

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The brake imbalance of the rear brakes is most likely caused by a leaking brake cilinder. If the brake cilinder is leaking the brake shoes become contaminated with brake fluid which reduces the brake force drastically. If this is the case the problem can only be solved by replacing the brake cilinders and the brake shoes.

Another possibility is to remove the rear drum brakes and install some original disc brakes instead.

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Cheers Wilco and Ian . If it is a cylinder and and shoes is there a ball park figure i am looking at just so i can put the right amount on ebay when selling one of my kidneys?

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eurocar parts are showing £42 inc vat for cost of shoes and a cyl, then hour to fit them if your not doing it.

but dont assume we are right, we are only advising on the info we have.

could be something simple as water in drum giving simular effect, then just a clean , deglaze shoes,

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Whilst I can't comment on the diagnosis of the rear brake imbalance, last year my car had an advisory on the front for front brake sliders being imbalanced, didn't address it, they didn't mention anything about it this year. This was at a council MOT centre. Wouldn't go to Mr Clutch for anything even if someone else footed the bill after the sheer incompetence and then refusal to admit fault on my dads car.

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What did they do Matthew or would it cause issues posting about it?

Appreciate all the advice.I am just trying to work out if its mega costly or if i can just about afford it after xmas and as you say until there is a diagnosis you cant give a certain price so appreciate the inputs.Superb as always.

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What did they do Matthew or would it cause issues posting about it?

Appreciate all the advice.I am just trying to work out if its mega costly or if i can just about afford it after xmas and as you say until there is a diagnosis you cant give a certain price so appreciate the inputs.Superb as always.

This was a year or two ago now, they changed the clutch on my dads 2004 Rover 75. Only the clutch. It lasted a total of 52 miles before failing on him while he was driving round central London. Got it towed to a different centre who said it was probably down to the first one not replacing the clutch master cylinder at the same time even though they should have (I think that was the part), but they wouldn't completely say it 100%, nor would they put anything in writing. Had to pay out for a second clutch and other parts to be replaced. Wrote to head office who didn't want to know.

This story has put our family and several work colleagues off them.

Personally having used the council centres (who don't do repairs, therefore have no incentive to fail anything) for all our cars I would highly recommend them, at least our local (Chelmsford) has been good. The tester has also been helpful with advice on my Focus too. The test might be more expensive, but at least you know its genuinely faulty and not just a way of getting money out of you.

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cars fail,thats life.

we always have our hearts in our mouths when they go in to be done.

i have a moto,it will always fail.............and if it doesnt then !Removed! GREAT but mentally im prepared for the fail.pre armed is pre warned.

as for council run centres,they are the best 1s to go to,they go over everything with a magnifying glass,great for the paper work bad news for your wallet lol.used to use my local bus station,but when they got privatized they stopped doing them,remember 1 guy spending a very long time over a car i had,then came in said it had passed but added an advisory as i kid you not,he found a slight crack inside the tread of 1 rear tyre,this tyre had about 6-7mm on it AND HE FOUND FAULT.LOL.

hence finding just mots,they have started doing brakes and tyres etc,but a hell of a lot cheaper then the likes of kwik fit.

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I recently done a repair on a car which failed the mot on rear brake imbalance and parking brake efficiency.

Couple of years ago the cylinders and handbrake cables were replaced so they were fine. New shoes and fitting kit, problem solved.

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As said it could be a weeping slave cylinder or even just requires a new set of brake shoes fitting or even a stretched handbrake cable. Any on those things will cause low parking brake efficiency. Generally not overly expensive to have done at a garage and cheap to do yourself if you have the tools and are mechanically minded.

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UPDATE : Well just a quick update . Just had a call from Mr Clutch who said they took the rear break drum off to look at the brake shoes etc and all seemed ok,just needed a good clean and grease.Put it back on the brake testing machine and all was fine after and they have the print outs attatched to the MOT which they now passed (They gave me the last test report). £55 . Think i got off lucky this time but have learned from all the great advice here . So thank you to everyone who took the time out to reply with advice,really appreciate it.

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MOT testing has recently changed to include rear brake imbalance as a fail. That's what my fix-up Fiesta failed on earlier this year. It's just crappy drum brakes not adjusting properly with wear (they never do), easy to adjust yourself but a bit time consuming and will likely be a common fail on a lot of older drum braked cars now. I expect my Focus to fail on the same later this month tbh.

The garage I used know I do my own work and didn't charge a retest fee so there was no reason to fail it for them. :)

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