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When Regular Car Maintenance Can’t Help: Sedans with Unreliable Brakes

cars with unreliable brakes

Brakes are the most crucial safety element of any car. They may be simple in design or have complex electronic controls, but the health of the brakes determines whether you will get to your destination safe and sound. Alas, not all cars are ready to guarantee this throughout their entire service life, even with proper maintenance. The Indy Auto Man dealership's mechanics have found four sedans that often have problems with the brake system.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

Problematic unit: Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC) system

In 2024, US customers can choose from a range of refined and upgraded Mercedes-Benz models. However, some pre-owned models can't boast the same level of dependability. The Mercedes-Benz CLS became the founder of a new automotive fashion, but in terms of reliability, it was let down by its relationship with the E-Class in the back of the W211. From the pre-restyling model, the four-door coupe inherited SBC brakes with electronic control, a pump, and a hydraulic accumulator instead of a vacuum booster.

Unfortunately, these elements have a limited service life. Moreover, the system has its own firmware and works with the automatic transmission and engine control unit. The service life of the SBC is also affected by corrosion of brake pipes and brake fluid leaks, which is inevitable in large cities like Indianapolis. In addition, the SBC suffers from electrical problems. For example, interruptions in the operation of the battery or generator can lead to brake failure.

The restyled E-Class in the W211 body got rid of capricious brakes, but the CLS suffers from SBC until the end of its life cycle.

Jaguar XJ

Problematic unit: brake discs

Jaguar sedans have long had a reputation for their power and style, but the XJ appeared in this anti-rating because of an unpractical decision of its manufacturer.

The latest generation XJ came out very sporty, as if it were not an executive sedan but a sports coupe. Apparently, for the sake of better cooling, Jaguar engineers did not cover the XJ brake discs with shields.

This is probably not a problem in the Jaguar's homeland, but US drivers note that unprotected front brake discs often wear out faster than the pads. Moreover, this applies to the top versions with a compressor V8 and to the slower XJ models as well. Installing high-quality analogs instead of original disks does not fundamentally solve the problem.

Audi A6

Problematic unit: electric handbrake

The third-generation Audi A6 (2005–2011) stood out from its competitors with its classic appearance, combined with numerous technical bells and whistles. With age, this added many problems for the owners.

On the one hand, the service life of the A6's brake discs is quite decent. Even after 60,000 miles, their wear may be within tolerances. It’s a pity that the A6 often experiences a completely non-premium knocking sound from the rear calipers due to premature wear of the guides.

Another weak point of the A6 brake system in the C6 body is the electric handbrake with weak housing. Because of this, the rear calipers typically suffer from corrosion, and failures of the entire mechanism regularly occur. The system wiring is also unreliable, especially in cars produced before restyling in 2019, where the tightness of the connectors becomes weaker over time.

Mitsubishi Lancer

Problematic unit: caliper bracket guides, discs, and pads

The Lancer, with its aggressive design, became a real hit in the late 2000s. But despite its expressive appearance, it remains the same inexpensive sedan full of compromise solutions. This also applies to the braking system. There is no other way to explain the calipers that quickly become overgrown with dirt and the brackets that constantly rattle, both front and rear. The Lancer's brake mechanisms require preventative cleaning every time the pads are replaced. ABS also requires attention, as it easily floods the control unit with water, resulting in failed sensors and wiring.

In addition, the original brakes of the Mitsubishi Lancer are weak. Discs, not to mention pads, rarely withstand even 30,000 miles. Foremost, this applies to modifications with 1.8 and 2.0-liter engines. So, experienced owners prefer to install reinforced discs and calipers, for example, from the Mitsubishi Outlander, to upgrade reliability.

Some car problems can be resolved with minimum effort and expenses, while others will constantly manifest themselves and spoil the pleasure of driving. Brake issues are not ones to ignore, and if they occur regularly, it is an obvious sign to consider selling the car and buying a more reliable one.

At Indy Auto Man, Indianapolis, you can trade in your vehicle of any make and model and choose from 300+ cars, SUVs, trucks, and minivans for sale. Check our rating of the safest cars in 2024, browse our inventory, and schedule a test drive right now!