One of the things mechanics really hate is having to call customers to tell them more parts or services are needed, but often those things can't be seen or known until we get into the job. Some shops plan ahead for those surprises when they give you an estimate, but then they risk losing your business to a competitor down the street who starts out with a lower estimate.
In this case I don't know the climate you live in and we don't have that car model here so I have to make some generalizations. Ford products here DID used to have much more than their share of brake caliper problems but today they don't seem to be any worse than any other car brand. It is not automatically necessary to replace them at every brake job but years ago we did rebuild them, which didn't cost much to do. The issue is rust and corrosion can build up on the piston. As the pads wear down the piston works its way out of the caliper. That is how they self-adjust. Any dirt or corrosion that forms just moves away from the rubber seal over time. It's when the mechanic has to push that piston back in to make room for the new, thicker pads that the dirt gets stuck under the seal and causes the piston to bind. Even if he is able to force the piston in, (many unknowledgeable do-it-yourselfers use a c-clamp), that dirt will cause the piston to hang up resulting in a brake that won't release and won't apply properly. It is the main cause of new brake pads wearing out very quickly.
If that is what your mechanic ran into he was right to sell you a pair of rebuilt calipers. Replacing both insures even braking. Rebuilt calipers today cost WAY less than they did 20 years ago so it doesn't pay for the mechanic to rebuild them himself. My concern is how and when the mechanic determined new calipers were needed. Once the wheels are removed, I use a regular screwdriver to gently pry each piston back into the caliper. They should move relatively easily. If I can't move them at all, rebuilt ones are called for. There are some shops here in the U.S, particularly the chain stores and mass merchandisers that sell you calipers with every brake job because the mechanics work on commission. Independent repair shops and dealerships don't do that so there is no incentive for mechanics to sell more than what is needed.
Assuming the calipers did need to be replaced, the hoses have to be unbolted from them. Most are held on with "banjo" bolts. Those are hollow bolts the brake fluid flows through. The bolt goes through a hole in a brass fitting on the end of the rubber hose. It is sealed with a pair of copper washers, one on each side of that fitting. It is customary to replace those washers because they are soft and are meant to squish and form around grooves in the fitting to create a tighter seal. Reusing old washers rarely causes a problem, but replacing them is cheap insurance against a leak. To have a leak there now when you obviously didn't before suggests the mechanic is looking for you to pay for an easy fix when he could just flip those washers over and reuse them, or he could replace them. That alone is not a legitimate reason to replace an entire hose.
Rubber flex hoses must be replaced when the outer covering is frayed or torn because it won't be long before the inner, high-strength part is compromised and will rupture just when you'd really like to have brakes. The problem is that's not exactly what he said was wrong with them. I wish I could see for myself why he wanted to replace the hoses. We look for signs of that fraying when we do the initial inspection. If we see that, the hoses are included in the initial repair estimate.
As far as the black paint, that is a non-issue and he had no business saying someone was trying to hide something. A little spray paint isn't going to stop a fluid leak any more than I am going to stop a meteor. Very often people paint their brake calipers to stop them from rusting and looking unsightly through the spokes of their wheels.
Saturday, September 14th, 2013 AT 12:36 AM