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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I own a 2016 Golf MKVII with just under 75,000km (46,000 miles). I got a brake fluid warning and stopped to check it out. Lucky for me, I was able to buy brake fluid and top up the reservoir. I became very concerned when the car swallowed up the entire bottle!

Today, the mechanic found a leak on both rear calipers and quoted me around 500$ for parts and service... It's an expensive repair! How could the calipers have failed with such low mileage? From what I read, they're supposed to last twice as long.
 

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What is the maintenance history of the brake system? Did you change the brake fluid in 2018 and 2021 (first change is at 2 years then 3 years after). What about changing the brakes?
 

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Others here will know a lot more than I, but I'd be highly suspect of this diagnosis. Brake calipers often last the life of the car and if they develop a leak, the internal parts (such as piston seals and guide pin boots) are replaceable. The work is not difficult and should in no way cost $500. In addition, it would be ridiculously coincidental for both calipers to develop a leak at the same time. I'd shine a flashlight on the backside of your wheel on the caliper and take a look around, especially around the bleeder screws to be sure they're tight. If they're loose, don't crank down on them with a wrench using all of your might. Snug is good.

For what it's worth, brake fluid is also a paint remover, so be aware if it's spraying under the car and careful where you touch if you get your fingers in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What is the maintenance history of the brake system? Did you change the brake fluid in 2018 and 2021 (first change is at 2 years then 3 years after). What about changing the brakes?
I'm not sure about changing the fluid. I bought the car in 2019, I'm assuming the 2018 maintenance was done but I'm pretty sure it wasn't done in 2021. I had the rear rotors and pads changed in 2021

Others here will know a lot more than I, but I'd be highly suspect of this diagnosis. Brake calipers often last the life of the car and if they develop a leak, the internal parts (such as piston seals and guide pin boots) are replaceable. The work is not difficult and should in no way cost $500. In addition, it would be ridiculously coincidental for both calipers to develop a leak at the same time. I'd shine a flashlight on the backside of your wheel on the caliper and take a look around, especially around the bleeder screws to be sure they're tight. If they're loose, don't crank down on them with a wrench using all of your might. Snug is good.

For what it's worth, brake fluid is also a paint remover, so be aware if it's spraying under the car and careful where you touch if you get your fingers in it.
Thanks for the advice. It's a bit late now, they're already doing the work. I don't have the technical knowledge to know whether they're lying to me... But I've read in other forums that rebuilt calipers should be avoided because they're unreliable. For what it's worth, the mechanic showed me the leak and sure enough I could see a drop of fluid there...
 

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I own a 2016 Golf MKVII with just under 75,000km (46,000 miles). I got a brake fluid warning and stopped to check it out. Lucky for me, I was able to buy brake fluid and top up the reservoir. I became very concerned when the car swallowed up the entire bottle!

Today, the mechanic found a leak on both rear calipers and quoted me around 500$ for parts and service... It's an expensive repair! How could the calipers have failed with such low mileage? From what I read, they're supposed to last twice as long.
Brakes tend to fail more from disuse than use. If brake fluid is disappearing you have a leak somewhere. The price isn't actually too bad for two new calipers installed if that fixes the leak(s).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Brakes tend to fail more from disuse than use. If brake fluid is disappearing you have a leak somewhere. The price isn't actually too bad for two new calipers installed if that fixes the leak(s).
Fair enough... But what could possibly have caused the leak? We drive this car upwards of 20,000km yearly. It can't be from disuse, can it? Could it be because I use the hand brake when I park?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Do you live in an area that uses a lot of road salt in the winter time? Do you have corrosion built up around the seals? Where on the calipers is it leaking from? Is the same spot on both calipers?
Yes I do! About the other two questions, it’s a bit late to look as the work has been done. But I’m told they were both leaking from the same spot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, in the end you made the proper choice putting safety first. Brakes aren't the sort of thing to dither over; risking your safety trying to save a few hundred dollars would be a poor decision. (y)
I agree! Sadly, that doesn’t answer my question… Why did this happen and is there anything I can do to prevent it from happening again?

EDIT: as you said, calipers should last much longer thank 46k mi…
 

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Have mechanic show you the old parts and explain where/how they were leaking. I agree both calipers leaking at once seems unusual. Brake fluid is the LV (low viscosity) type. Flushing system every 3 years is definitely desirable.
 
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