The Squeak

Paul, ‘the last honest mechanic’ prepped Marlin for driving the Pan American highway, he told us that although the brakes were ok when we set out, we should probably have them looked at after a few thousand Ks. So we had the brake pads changed in Cabo San Lucas at the bottom of the Baja – in Mexico goods are only a little cheaper, it’s in the services where you save the bucks, so I bartered a little with the labour costs knowing that we would be charged the gringo rate.

The squeak started in Sayulita, a small protest that developed into a high-pitched squeal corresponding to a specific point in the revolution of the front wheels. We dealt with it for a few weeks until it became an unbearable intermittent wail. I asked the VW dealership in Manzanillo about at it… ‘No worries—it’s just dirty discs’, so they cleaned the discs and we set out for Acapulco the next day. Not more than an hour into the drive and the squeak returned.

The squeak was relentless throughout the long drive from Acapulco to Puerto Escondido, which was already frustrated with crooked cops, pot holes and road blocks. By the time we got into town it had become so maddening that it haunted our sleep, even the ceiling fan mimicked the noise.

I took the car to Bridgestone where they took the wheels off and examined the brakes. No problems; the brake pads were nice and thick and the disks were clean, only in the process they snapped a bolt holding the left brake caliper. Replaced the bolt after a fair bit of mucking around and then said that everything looked fine, ‘no problems’ … the squeak persisted.

We asked around for a reliable mechanic and Kels found an English-speaking mechanic recommended on Tomzap.com (which is a great resource for travelers headed to Mexicos Pacific Coast) we took the car in and were told it was just dirty disks. No I said, we had them cleaned earlier and that hadn’t solved the problem. So they kept the car and called a day later to say that they had found the problem and had removed the splashguards, which were rubbing against the discs.

A day later the squeak returned and, with considerable restraint, we took the car back to the mechanic who scratched his head and said he’d look into it again at no charge. We took the car back two more times, each time with little success. Thought we had it finally nailed by resurfacing the discs but as we drove out of Puerto Escondido for San Cristobal it returned. I called the tireless mechanic from Tuxtla who said that the only other thing he could suggest was to replace the brake pads—that they could be made from inferior metal.

Took Marlin into the VW dealership in San Cristobal de las Casas where they wanted to replace everything including the windscreen wipers and fog lights for fourteen hundred dollars. Declining their services I bought some VW original brake pads and talked to a local who had their mechanic come and pick up the car, he replaced the pads and dropped the car off 4 hours later. We’ve now driven over 2000 Ks squeak free – Cheers Bela!

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  1. T dot’s avatar

    Suck it up and grow a pair tom sauce.

  2. Austin’s avatar

    I’m glad you got that all taken care of, I know how frustrating squeaky brakes can be. Especially when you’re in the car a lot.

  3. Bela’s avatar

    Well, hey, I’m going to tell Don Manuel that he made some people very happy! He certainly takes care of me. I’m so glad we solved that one. Now, on to figuring out whether god exists! ;-) Safe passage