Monday, June 4, 2012

[SCAM ALERT] Leaking brake fluid, smoking disc

While traveling to have lunch on last Friday in 2 cars, we experienced a potential scam by unscrupulous workshop staff to cheat gullible drivers. This was how the incident unfolded :

I received a call from our frantic friend from the other car, which was tailing us from a distance at Jalan Duta / Damansara turn. He said there's smoke billowing from the front left wheel and a 'God sent foreman' is looking at it. I asked him what happened prior to that, he said everything was OK until a man on his bike pointed to his wheel and asked him to stop at the road side to inspect his 'smoking' brake. 

My friend didn't realize any smoke before he got down from the car, but once he reach there, the man claiming to be a 'foreman' pointed to the wheel, which was 'drenched' in oil and there's smoke billowing from the burning oil on the brake caliper. The foreman insisted to remove the wheel to inspect the 'damaged' caliper, and my confused friend allowed him!

I asked him if he experienced any effects in braking, he said no. He also didn't see any oil leak when he drive out the car from the parking. I told him, its impossible for large amount of brake fluid to 'squirt' out and hit the disc or the external tire wall, if there's a leak it will be a slow drip, away from the disc due to the construction of brake calipers situated slightly on the side of the disc, not right on top of disc. 

On some occasion, long streaks of oil can be seen on tire like this:

I asked him to tell the 'foreman' to fix the wheel back and drive slowly to our lunch location. As suspected, the 'foreman' spooked my friend saying his caliper may catch fire while driving and he must bring the car to the workshop he is working at. At that point I felt it is a scam to fleece money from any unsuspecting drivers. 

(Gambar hiasan sahaja)

I reassured my friend its OK to drive slowly as he has other 3 brakes working properly. After insisting the 'foreman' to fix his wheel back, he drove slowly to another familiar workshop nearby to get the brake inspected. At that workshop, he found the brake line was loosen recently, possibly after the wheel was removed by the 'on the road foreman'. This was confirmed due to the clean nut, resulted from recent 'touch' by hand or spanner/wrench. After checking the brake line, seal, calipers and tightening the brake line nut, there's no any 'leak' as told by the 'foreman'. At the workshop, my friend was told there are scammers riding around and quickly squirt oil onto wheel, usually when a car stopping at traffic junctions. They will then tail the car and tell the driver to stop and inspect. If not car-savvy, they will be conned to drive/tow the car to their workshop and charged exorbitantly. Its good to know how braking system works and how you can manage leaking (if any).


Brake fluid leak - can look very similar to leaking engine oil. The key difference is the areas in which the leaks will be found. Any leak found near the wheel will almost certainly be brake fluid. Check the hoses entering the brake calipers and brake master and slave cylinders. 

Check the brake lines entering the calipers for leaking brake fluid

Its always safe to get your brakes inspected whenever you service your car or when you experience any problems like squeaking sound, smell from disc or drum, vibrating brake pedal when braking. 

When you are asked to stop by a 'caring' stranger on the road, you may do the following:
  • don't panic and immediately stop your car, drive safely to nearest stop or petrol station
  • call any friend or relative for advice/help
  • don't let your car to be towed by anyone (they may even be car thief!), if your insurance company has towing service, try to get them
  • don't believe everything the roadside 'foreman' telling you
  • Be alert, service your brakes when its due and drive safe.


  1. those conman, usually also at the perhentian bro, they will tend to puncture radiator hose and make water dry out. then the incident like u said above will happen.

  2. A very informative post. I'm sure a lot of drivers will learn a lot from this blog if they see this cause 40 percent of car crashes are because of brake issues. It's very important to check first your vehicle before you're going into a long road trip. Brakes-4-less would be happy to help you in your brakes in case it's not working properly. It's very affordable and their mechanics their are extremely knowledgeable and have decades of experience in servicing brakes. brake repair

  3. This brake scam just happened to me in Santo Domingo.