Originally Posted by captainmiller
So I was driving down the road and the brake light comes on and that chime started. I quickly went home and I felt my brakes beginning to fail. It was not a comfortable drive home. Sure enough when I popped the hood my master cylinder was empty. Turns out that the brake line going to the rear of the car was completely rusted through and gave way. When my respectable mechanic had the tires off, he noticed the pads were PAPER thin, rotors were beat up beyond repair, and rust on the right brake caliper and assembly was causing it to not function propery and uneven brake wear.
The brake-line blowout is the most obvious flaw, but since that failure occurs from the inside out, there'* not a lot of symptoms you get before it blows -- just having rusty brake lines alone is not enough to show a potential failure. So IMHO, you can probably beat 'em up over all the other neglected stuff that they should have caught, but I don't think the brake line would have been leaking at the time they looked at it.
This is not a _defense_ of those "inspectors;" I doubt they really looked at _anything_ back there, because if they had, they would have known it was an accident waiting to happen. They would have also known that when (not if) it happened, they would have a lot of explaining to do... like now.
My guess is that the owner showed up with a clean, freshly-washed car and they passed it based on appearances.