Brakes going out?

I am having a problem with the brakes on my 2003 Mazda Tribute with 57 k miles on it. To begin, I replaced both front rotors (ceramic brake pads were fine) after hearing an intermitent “grinding” sound and pulsating brake petal upon stopping. The original rotors were worn thin (defect?)(soft metal?). Problem solved (for a while).

Now, the same thing is happening only not as loud and forceful. Inspection by me and 2 others found nothing out of the ordinary.

I am at a loss for my next move. Any suggestions?

The fact that your rotors wore out before your brakes did suggests that those pads are pretty tough on rotors. They were not completely flat and square when you re-used them with new rotors, which means that they attacked the new rotors unevenly. I suspect that re-using those pads may turn out to have been an expensive mistake.

If the pads aren’t worn down to nothing intermittent grinding type noises are not out of the ordinary and will come with any kind of crud on the rotors - surface rust during damp/wet weather is a common one.

The uneven rotor surface (or “warping”) is very common and has many causes. Uneven lug nut torque is a top culprit. So too is contamination between rotor & hub mating surface. Sticking slides or caliper pistons can cause brake drag, over heating the rotors. All of those things need to be checked out.

It is also possible for worn front end components to create or add to problems like this - e.g. worn wheel bearings. Its likely not a bad idea to have a front end shop check the alignment & the front end.