CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

05 Civic Brakes pusle 3000 miles after new pad and rotor install

I replaced the pads and rotors on my 05 Civic 3000 miles ago. Now it is pulsing badly again when stepping on the brakes. I can feel the pulse in the brake pedal and the steering wheel. Could something be causing the rotors to warp or could it be something else? What should I be looking for when I pull off the wheeles again?
Thanks.

The first thing I’m going to ask is, did you torque the wheels to the hub at the proper spec?

Tester

Could be residue from the new pads. Try a couple of hard stops from 60 or so. That will heat up the rotors to burn off the residues. It works most of the time and it doesn’t cost anything to try, unlike many of the other remedies that will be recommended here. Tester is right about the torque as well.

What kind of pads did you use? Were they cheap metallic pads, OEM pads from the dealership or expensive ceramic pads?

What kind of rotors did you use? Were they the cheap ones from the auto parts store, OEM rotors from the dealership, expensive drilled rotors, or something in between?

There are many reasons your rotors could be warping. I drive a 1998 Civic, and my rotors used to warp frequently until I finally removed the wheel covers and allowed more air to get to the brakes to keep them cool. Do you have non-OEM rims or the stock rims?

Try a couple of hard stops from 60 or so
I just drove from PA to NH via 84 through Hartford. I had plenty of opportunity to make some hard stops from high speeds :-)

I use a torque stick when tightening the lugs.

I used NAPA ceramic pads and I thought, quality after market rotors.

Stock rims.

Use a real torque wrench, not torque sticks.

Using a torque stick, you might have over-torqued the lug nus, but when you buy new rotors, I believe you have to get them turned before you install them. If this was done at the auto parts store, they might have taken too much material off the rotors. Thin rotors warp faster than rotors cut to spec. If you can figure out what the specified width is, and measure your rotors, you might be able to take it up with whoever turned the rotors.

If you can live with the ugly look of your steel rims, next time you have the wheels off, leave the plastic wheel covers off when you reinstall the wheels. Looking at a picture of a stock 7th generation Civic, it looks like the plastic wheel covers block some of the air holes on the rims.

Buy yourself a torque wrench. Personally, I don’t like the ones that click. I prefer something like the one in this picture for the kind of job you’re doing.

This is a DIY job? If so, a couple of steps might have been left out. Did you use brake cleaner to remove all the oil coating that was on the new rotors before installing them? New rotors are coated with oil to inhibit rust while they sit in the box awaiting purchase. If that oil is left on it will contaminate the new pads and cause braking problems. If you didn’t clean off the oil then you might have to get another new set of pads, clean the rotors properly and then put the new pads on.

Another issue is proper torque when installing the wheels. My '03 Civic calls for 80 ft/lbs which is pretty low compared to many other cars. You also need to torque the wheels evenly and slowly meaning use a star pattern when tightening and get the lug nuts hand tight first, then go to about 40 ft/lbs, then snug them to 60 ft/lbs, then finally 80 ft/lbs.

If you did all the above properly, then one or more of the new rotors is defective. Figure out which one and get a replacement from the auto parts retailer.

My bet is that you used inferior quality rotors AND OR you have one binding caliper…which is not releasing entirely and is heating up one rotor FAR more than the other. Go out for a ride and then stop and feel the metal of the wheel…be it steel or aluminum… I usually touch the lug nuts to feel for this. DO NOT TOUCH THE ROTOR ITSELF…unless you enjoy leaving your skin on metal and severe burns. But if you feel the lug nuts I bet one of them is much hotter than the other side…if so you found your bad caliper.

If you dont notice a severe temp difference then i would suspect inferior quality rotors…where did you get them? WHo made them? You have a little bit of homework to do so let us know

Blackbird