2 PA Dealer Techs Charged With Purposely Damaging Brakes

Two counts each of tampering with a customer’s brakes were charged against two dealership techs. It allegedly happened at the #1 Cochran Hyundai dealership in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. A customer brought their car in for an inspection when the techs used a screwdriver and a hammer to separate the brake pads. Allegedly, the techs told the customer he would need to replace the pads. The reason given was due to the separation of the pad backing plate and friction material. 

According to WTAE TV, the car was due for its annual inspection at the dealership. “At the time of the inspection, the mechanic of the garage relayed that the car didn’t pass inspection due to a brake pad separation,” said Pennsylvania state trooper Rocco Gagliardi. The customer knew his car well and thought there was something unusual about the inspection.

How did the Hyundai owner know about his brakes?

Dealership technician
Dealership technician | Getty

So they took the car to another mechanic for a second opinion. He told the owner there was nothing wrong with his Hyundai brakes and it would pass inspection easily. With that, the customer went back to the dealership to tell the tech about the second opinion. 

The #1 Cochran tech did a second inspection and determined the passenger side rear brake pads were separating. But after the first inspection, the tech told the customer that the separating brake pad was on the driver’s side front brake. That’s when the customer called the state police. 

How did the police determine the Hyundai techs did it?

Hyundai dealership
Hyundai dealership | Getty

They sent fraud inspectors to look around and ask a few questions. According to the police, the two techs eventually confessed to damaging the brakes by punching the pads with a screwdriver and hammer. “Both mechanics did relay that they did put the screwdriver in there, and one even actually used a hammer to cause even further separation,” Gagliardi said.

Hyundai disc brakes are like most all other vehicles. Disc brake pads are actually two different materials bonded together. They’re made up of a steel backing plate and friction material “pucks.” The puck grabs the brake disc. Heat and pressure in a press bond the backing plate and puck materials. The final stage is heat treating the pads. 

What does the dealership say?

Hyundai dealership
Hyundai vehicles sit on display | Getty

It is assumed the techs allegedly pried the friction material from the backing plate. #1 Cochran Hyundai says, “First, #1 Cochran as a company, has not been cited for anything. Second, the facts expressed at the press conference regarding the two team members who were cited are not accurate, and the truth will come to light. Multiple service personnel inspected the brake pads, and all agreed that they did not pass inspection. It is our assessment that no one at #1 Cochran forcefully separated the pads or in any way damaged them. That is not how we conduct business, that is not who we are – and there would have been no benefit whatsoever to the technicians to operate that way.”

The charges are criminal mischief and unlawful activity. “Right now, the investigation will stay open, concluding the disposition of these charges,” Gagliardi said. “If anyone else out there in the public has a concern or an issue with that same garage and gives us a call, we can reopen that, start a new case, or look further into the dealership itself.”

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