Bad Wagner rotors?

In June 2009, I went to a local ETD shop for maintenance on my Pilot (38,000 miles). The guy at the shop told me that the car needs a pair of new rotors and pads, and I let the shop replace them (Wagner rotors and ceramic pads).

In April 2010 (after 10,000 miles), my Pilot started to shake and rock when braking. I went back to ETD, and the guy told me I got warped rotors. They need to be resurfaced, and they did that for me.

Now after one year, the same shaking and rocking problem happens once again. This time ETD said both front and rear rotors and pads have to be replaced.

My question is, Why the Wagner rotors lasted only 10,000 miles while the original rotors lasted 38,000 miles? Our driving pattern has been the same without much changes. Does that mean the Wagner rotors’ quality are extremely bad?

It could also mean you have a sticking caliper. Has anyone checked for this?

Thank you for the reply. No one ever mentioned the caliper when checked on the brakes. In April 2010 I also went to a Honda dealer and let them check it over. They also said the rotors were warped.

Is there any simple way I can find out whether I indeed have sticking calipers?

Drive it for awhile and then carefully feel each wheel. If one is significantly hotter than the others, the caliper is sticking. I emphasize “carefully” here - brakes, especially sticking ones, can get hot enough to glow orange at night. If you touch it too hard you might leave some skin behind on the wheel.

I use Wagner rotors and have never had a problem. You probably did not “bed” the pads properly, and that was probably because your brake tech didn’t explain how to do this. Each manufacturer has different procedures and that sometimes varies according to the pad type.

I find that when I get some pulsing in the brakes, and this usually occurs about 10k miles after I install them, a couple of hard braking cycles fixes the problem. In a safe place, at about 60 mph, apply the brakes as hard, WITHOUT lock up, and slow down to almost stopped. Don’t completely stop and repeat a second time.

I asked the guy at the shop. He said they checked the calipers, and there wasn’t any problems. I will tried out your procedure myself later just to be sure. Thanks.

Thank you. I was very surprise to get so few mileage from the Wagner rotors. The same shop had replaced brakes on my previous cars, and I never had any issues with the brake jobs until I got these Wagner rotors.

My car would shake and brake pedal would rock both quite violently when braking at high speed. Is this the same as the pulsing you mentioned?

I have been reading up bed-in procedure on the web. It’s quite fascinating. Each manufactures seem to have their own bed-in procedure. One site mentions that incorrect bed-in can cause vibration which could be misdiagnosed as warped rotors. Interesting…

One correction to my original post. The pads were Wagner PD865 (Wagner PD865 ThermoQuiet Non-Asbestos Organic Disc Brake Pads, according to Google search results), not ceramic pads. By the way, the rotor was Wagner 126051.

That would be an extreme case, you should have noticed this coming on with mild pulsing at first.

Do you now where the rotors were MADE?? Regardless of brand name, many of these parts are coming in from China. They are made from scrap…

PD865 is a rear pad and it is ceramic. BD126051 is a rear rotor.

I have no idea where they were made. Today I called Federal-Mogul, which is the company behind Wagner, and talked to several different people. One of them is the Northeastern region rep. He said almost the same thing that parts made in China often are quite bad. But still, since they put their marks on the products, they should make sure the parts meet certain quality requirement.

There are quite a few things that can create this kind of problem. One is actually not so much the rotors but cheap pads that leave residue on the rotors. The procedure keith mentioned is basically about burning that stuff off. Of course, lower quality steel in the rotors can also be a factor.

Some of it also comes down to installation. For example, the mating surface between the hub & rotor has to be perfectly smooth with no residues left from rust or other debris. The lug nuts have to be torqued evenly and to specification any time the wheels come on & off. As noted the calipers have to operate smoothly and that includes not only the pistons but also the slides.

In addition, worn front end parts can contribute to this or even themselves be the real source of the vibration - things like worn wheel bearing & tie rod ends.

I will say that I had a go 'round like yours. I think it was with Wearever rather than Wagner. Wagner is a name, of course, but it doesn’t mean that their bargain level parts are anything different. I’ll bet both of these are made by Federal Mogul. I kept ending up with the same thing. At one point I had two sets of rotors going - one got juddery, I bought a new set. Once I started to feel those going to pulsing I had the originals turned, an swapped them out and then had the second set turned. Each time I did all of those things you’re supposed to do with caliper slides & lugs etc.

Anyway, I finally went out and bought middle grade pads & rotors from NAPA and haven’t had a problem since. This kind of problem is very common these days. Sometimes it is from people doing the wrong things. But the bottom line is that its often just cheap junk parts.

Yeah, these brand-name brake parts are now made in China. Most are fairly decent, but once in a while you end up with inferior rotors with poor metallurgy issues.

There’s always the possibility that the problem may not even be related to the brake rotors. The tiniest bit of looseness in a wheel bearing or suspension component may not cause any noticeable brake problem but once the rotors develop a normally not noticeable amount of warp this can be magnified by the looseness. This in turn leads to the assumption the rotors are gone.

Warped rotors or rotors suffering a parallelism problem do not have to be guesswork either. That’s what micrometers and dial indicators are for; to remove the guessing although the standard procedure seems to be if the brakes shake then blame the brakes.

I would add that before the installation of new rotors or rotors that have been machined they should be thoroughly cleaned and dried. New rotors may have a rust preventative treatment on them (sometimes not visible) that must be removed and may have oil embedded in the cast iron itself. This oil is from the original manufacturing process and is called “tramp oil”.
Used rotors also pick up oil and chemical residue from the roadway and this can also be embedded in the rotor.

Those oils and chemicals can contaminate the pads and cause problems. As far as I know Wagner parts are not and have never been a problem that I’m aware of.

If you have to do it again, I highly recommend replacing all the parts with 100% OEM parts.
This way you get back to having brake parts that last nearly 40k miles with your driving habits.

Chances are the original brake pads were ceramic bits, as someone else pointed out, and the replacement pads were more traditional organic or semi-metallic pads. Ceramic pads tend not to transfer as much brake lining material onto the rotors, which can build up and cause the shudder you feel when braking, in just 10k miles.


There are several possibilities.

. The mechanic didn’t actually use Wagner rotors.
. They were Wagner, but there was a defect.
. Something else is causing the failure (stuck caliper is likely).

I’ve used Wagner for 25+ years…and NEVER had a problem with any of their products.

One other cause for this is improperly tightened lug nuts, do you think that might be an issue?

With all the heavy rain in parts of the country, I have to ask. Is it possible that you had to brake really hard immediately before fording or stopping on a flooded roadway? April Showers???

True, you have to be careful and do your homework. The Brembos on my car are made in Italy