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Q: Loss of brake pressure, CV shaft popped out. What might have happened, and where do I go from here?

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I recently had a wheel bearing job done at a local shop to the front driver side of my Camry. During the repairs, the mechanic stated that the CV shaft and ABS sensor became damaged during removal and needed replacement. I got another call saying the new wheel bearing had exploded inside the knuckle when it was on the press, it needed to stay another day. Finally I picked it up. I noticed when I put it in drive, my brake pedal went all the way to the floor, and there was a grind from the transmission. I drove it home with no brake pressure (I live a few blocks away) and every time I accelerated, it would grind. I pulled into my driveway, using the hand brake to stop. I switched to reverse to turn around, and heard a loud clunk from the car, then it wouldn't move at all, now followed by a constant grinding when in gear. I crawled under to see the CV had disconnected from the transmission. It now rolls freely in park. They say they don't know what happened. I'm not losing brake fluid.

My car has 169000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: I answer a lot of questions for YourMechani...

I answer a lot of questions for YourMechanic. What you’re describing is the worst of the worst (so far) insofar as a mechanic damaging a car. Basically, if I take your account at face value, the shop caused substantial damage to your car. There is no reason, at all, for a CV axle shaft to be damaged on removal from the hub assembly, excepting a circumstance where your vehicle maybe sat in the bottom of a river for a year and thus the assembly corroded shut. Obviously, they mangled the shaft on removal. Similarly, the only way you can explode a brand NEW bearing in a steering knuckle is to install it incorrectly. Even used bearings that require 20 to 30 tons to remove (on my press) due to extraordinary corrosion do NOT explode. So, there is something seriously wrong with the work that was done, again taking your account at face value, and you should immediately seek not only a 100% refund but compensation for the damage done to the vehicle. It is not necessary to open the "hydraulics" in the brake system to replace the wheel bearing on your car so they may have caused further damage to the braking system or perhaps they did open the system but failed to bleed the system upon closure, thus accounting for the low pedal. If the failure of the axle did not cause damage to the output bearing and bushing in the transmission, it is possible to repair all that, probably using a new or rebuilt axle. Of course, the issue with the brakes has to be diagnosed as well. Given the amount of damage that they did, it is hard to predict, or anticipate, whether the bearing was installed correctly or not, or whether there are other defects in their work. For instance, if they used an air tool, instead of a calibrated torque wrench, to install the hub nut (a common mistake of amateurs), I can tell you right now they probably destroyed the new bearing. The bottom line is you need a refund and you need a professional Mechanic. Obviously, YourMechanic could dispatch a certified professional to your locale to patch things up for you...it is all repairable but as far as seeking recovery for the damage that was done you will have to file a Complaint with your state’s Attorney General’s Office, the BBB, any state licensing agency that licenses the business, and so forth. If you paid by credit card, obviously contact the credit card company at once to dispute the charges. If you have further concerns, by all means please re-contact us. Your story is a horrifying one and is a classic illustration of the principle that you have to be very, very careful who you do business with. NONE of what you describe should have ever taken place.

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