I started getting this shuddering vibration recently, it occurs when I brake… I can feel it in the brake pedal, hear it a little bit, and occasionally feel it in the steering wheel when I brake… Sometimes its quite loud (usually not though), and seems to speed up and slow down with the speed of the car. Car has 90K miles… Not sure what else is relevant. Just from reading around, it sounds to me like I’m due for some brake work… As a poor student, cost is the main issue for me here. How much would it likely cost, and is it something I (or a more experienced friend) could(should?) do for cheaper?
Ok, this is the classic symptom of warped rotors. Price the parts at several parts stores, and consider one hour of labor to replace them. Base any repair estimates on these figures to see what it will cost you. Then price the repair manual, and the tools to do the job. see which costs more. and you decide if you want to become a shade tree mechanic or not. Be advised that if your car wont start you have a problem, but if it wont stop, you may never have any problem again.
There is a good chance that you just need new brake pads and rotors. However, there is also some chance that you need that along with maybe a wheel bearing or tie rod end or something like that.
DIY brake jobs are often taken on by novices. If you had a more experienced friend and a repair manual for the car along with some decent tools (like a good socket set, for example) then doing the pads and rotors is normally within reach. If that solves the whole problem then its likely just the rotors as opposed to the rotors + other things (like wheel bearings).
You can get a basic repair manual for about $20 at an auto parts store. Don’t proceed without one. You can really make a mess of some braking systems these days if you don’t follow proper precautions.
If you decide to do it yourself you also need a good jack and set of jack stands - and a back up plan.
One other tip if you plunge in is to take apart only one side at a time so that if you get confused about how everything goes together you can use the other side as a reference.
And don’t buy the cheap, bottom rung brake parts. Buy name brand, at least middle quality level or you’ll probably just be doing it again in another 10K miles or so.
oh, and dont expect to be able to do this job in one hour. that estimate is for a pro. You should expect to spend all day saturday on this job. remember, that when you pay money for labor all you get is the labor, but when you pay money for tools, when you are done with the particular job, you still have the tools. Or, you can rent tools from places like pepboys.
I wouldn’t jump to such a conclusion on brake part brands… I put Valucraft rotors on my 97 Taurus and they were still in excellent shape when I sold the car some 50k (nearly all-city) miles later. On the other hand, I put Raybestos shoes on the rear and the things fell apart in just 9k miles.
All day? Are these trapped rotors? The first time I did brake pads and rotors on a friend’s Corolla, it took me barely over an hour. I can now swap them out on my cars in about 30 minutes, tops… Loosen tire, jack car up, remove tire, remove rear caliper bolt, slide caliper up, remove pads, remove 2 caliper bracket bolts, hang caliper out of the way, pull rotor off, put new rotor on, put caliper bracket back on, torque bolts, put new pads in place, press piston back into the caliper, swing caliper down, reinstall rear bolt, put tire back on, lower car, torque lugnuts, then repeat on the other side.
the OP appears to be a novice. so it could take that long.
I also forgot to tell him to take digital pictures while working on this, both to keep the parts placement straight, and to have as a memento of youth.
A rotor replacement was the first car work I ever did, way back when. Took me about 3 hours the first time because I was too dumb to realize that the rotor screws actually, you know, held the rotor onto the hub. And then of course once I figured that out, it took me forever to get them off because they were fused in there and I had to drill them out, and I wasn’t overly experienced with doing that so I was going at it with a wood bit and wondering why it didn’t work very well.
I’ve fortunately learned a lot since then
I can swap a rotor in about 15 minutes now assuming it’s not stuck on by rust. 20 if it is because I can never quickly find the right size bolts for the popoffs. But then I have a whole lot more tools now, and I never replace the rotor screws, which saves a lot of time the next time I do brake work.
Well, I can tell you long stories about my own experiences that are the opposite. I’d never speak in terms of certainties or guarantees. Even the universe itself, it seems, exists only as a manifestation of probabilities.
Before you spend any money, borrow a 150 ft-lb torque wrench. Raise each wheel, loosen the lug nuts and then use the torque wrench to tighten your lug nuts. If you have 5 lug nuts, then torque every other lug nut until you do all 5. If you have 4 lug nuts on each wheel then do one, skip across and then do the other two similarly. Increase the torque on each nut gradually such as initally to 40 ft-lbs, then 60, then 80 and so on. The final torque spec should be in your owner’s manual; might be somewhere between 80 and 100 ft-lbs.
If this does not help, then proceed with other suggestions.
It sounds like you need new pads and rotors. If you are reasonably good with tools, you should be able to do this one yourself or with the help of a more experienced friend. Front brakes are very easy to replace on a '02 Stratus. I still suggest investing in a repair manual before you dive into this, and it may help you in the future as well.
I purchased an impact driver ($12) specifically for those rotor screws and I can now remove and install them in under 2 minutes. Best tool I ever bought.
Warped rotors. Price them around at your local auto parts stores and rockauto.com If you have a friend who is even just a little experienced with car than they can usually change the brakes fairly fast. Brake jobs are easy but if you don’t even have a clue where the oil goes then this is not a place to start. Brakes are life and death…literally
your rotors do not necessarily need replaced. just if they are out of specs when machined. most auto parts suppliers turn rotors. If they turn within specs you will be ok to reuse them. dont forget to lube moving parts or youll be doing this again fairly soon
Alright, thanks for the input, everyone! I will start with the manual; I’ve got a couple friends really into cars so will enlist their help with the brake replacement. Thanks again!