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2006 Pontiac Vibe - Going through Rotars

I am the original owner of this 2006 Pontiac Vibe (aka The Vibrator) and I commute over 30 round trip miles daily. I have kept up on the maintenance, fluid changes intervals, and ever things else by the book. The only issue I have had with this car is rotors. I have gone through three sets already since hitting 100,000 miles and I am at 130,000 miles now. It seems that every 5000 miles or so I have to get them checked, shaved down, or replace. I feel the oscillations in the petal and searing as I decelerated rapidly (i.e braking at high speeds) . Is the rotors normal wear and tear, the way it’s driven, or something different?

Are you using OEM rotors, good aftermarket ones, or cheap aftermarket ones? Is this happening to the front rotors, the back rotors, or both?

Have you made sure that no one is overtorquing your lug nuts when servicing your car? That can warp rotors.

Has anyone checked for stuck calipers, collapsed brake lines, and anything else that might apply the brakes and overheat the rotors?

I had a 2005 model Pontiac Vibe that ate front rotors, pads and tires. It was a great little car except that the front end was just wonky and no alignment shop could fix it. How many miles do you get on your tires?

After driving it feel the center of the rims. They should be warm but not hot. If they are hot, then calipers are staying engaged. If it’s both sides it has to be something in common - Master cylinder, brake booster, proportioning valve or maybe abs.

Hey thanks everyone for the replies. The problem is with the front rotors and the back end is wearing evenly. I have not checked yet if they are over torquing the lug nuts, stuck calipers, or collapsing brake lines but a very good suggestion. I will also check the center of the rims tonight when I head home from work.

Are the rotors actually being checked for warpage, parallelism, etc or are they simply getting the blame because of brake shudders or pulsations?

Just some food for thought. It’s possible for looseness in a wheel bearing, suspension or steering component, etc. to cause brake shudder/pulsation issues. When the rotor is new this may be masked. After some thousands of miles the rotor may develop a few thousandths of an inch warpage or develop a parallelism issue which if everything else is fine may go unnoticed and is considered acceptable in most cases.

If there is a tiny amount of slop in anything else then the few thousandths gets magnified and becomes noticeable.

While you did not state anything about it, always verify the condition of the caliper slides and lube them; and make sure the caliper pistons retract comparatively easily into their bores.
A dragging brake pad due to a caliper issue can cause problems with rotors also.


here’s another thing to think about . . .

Have the shop measure the front hubs for runout

it won’t do you much good in the long run, if the rotors are true, but the hubs to which they’re attached are warped

If the hubs have excessive runout, you’re going to get pulsation, and you’ll be eating brakes

Question . . .

Is the shop machining the rotors on the car or off the car?

The problem could be a combination of the brake pads and your driving style. Contrary to popular belief, going easy on the brakes is actually contributing to the problem.

Some pads may have a higher content of resin to matrix than other pads. Pads with the higher resin will give off more gas and impurities, some of which stick to the rotors and cause the wheels to shudder when you apply the brakes. An occasional hard use of the brakes heats up the rotors and burns off the residues and smoothes out the brakes.

You had good luck with the original brakes, or so it appears from your post. You may find that the factory pads and rotors don’t cost much more than premium pads and rotors from the after market. If you are using a mechanic to replace your brakes, I would recommend that you insist on them using either factory parts from the dealer or premium aftermarket parts such as Wagner Thermoquiet or Raybestoes parts. Chose the ceramic pads if they are available.