It sounds like a brake is locked up. There is very little anyone could do to cause that in such a short time, but mechanics are always blamed for everything that happens after they touch your car. This problem could have happened while out on the highway for an hour, or more commonly, after sitting for many days. Most likely, when it decided to occur, the car happened to be in the shop.
Park on a small incline, then put the transmission in neutral. The car should coast on its own. If it stays put, you'll need to jack it up to see which wheel is sticking.
Common causes are rust buildup on a piston in a front caliper, rust buildup where the metal bracket is crimped around the center of a front brake hose, or brake fluid contaminated with petroleum product. Fluid contamination absolutely will not show up right after leaving the shop. It will take days for the rubber seals, hoses, and o-rings to swell.
If the hose is constricted by the metal bracket, the brake pedal will not push down as far as normal. The wheel won't turn by hand unless you open a bleeder screw to release the trapped fluid pressure.
If the fluid is contaminated, the seals under the caps of the master cylinder will balloon up when you remove them and the pedal will feel mushy. ALL rubber parts must be replaced to solve this problem, including anything with rubber o-rings. That can run into a thousand dollar repair bill; more if the car has an anti-lock brake hydraulic assembly.
The only thing I can think of that your mechanic could do to cause a sticking brake is to intentionally crawl under the dash to misadjust the brake light switch. That would hold the brake pedal down and keep the brakes applied. They are self-adjusting and are real difficult to change once they're installed.
This is a fairly common symptom so find out exactly what is wrong before blaming someone else. Most cars develop this type of problem long before 12 years and 180,000 miles.
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 AT 4:30 AM