Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Breaks keep warping under 3k mi- mechanic says try new hubs... ?!?

After replacing my second set of break pads at 110k miles (still having original discs)- my discs warped significantly within about the first 3k miles (they had never warped in the least within 110 miles!). I brought the car back to my mechanic and he agreed the discs had suddenly become very warped and suggested that after 113k miles maybe they were due to be replaced- so I agreed to put new discs on. The new discs stopped smoothly with no grabbing at all initially. But after about another 3k on the new discs became significantly warped again. I brought the car back to my mechanic and he said he did not know why they might have warped so quickly and that maybe I was breaking too much hard/often. But regardless he agreed to replace them under warranty. These new discs stopped smoothly but became significantly warped again in ~3k miles. I brought it back again to my mechanic and he said that at this point, if it were his car, he would try replacing the hubs since warped hubs were likely the cause of the discs warping so quickly- he quoted $1,200 to replace both hubs.

Is he right? Should I just blow $1.2k to replace the hubs “in hopes” that will alleviate my brake rotor warping problem? Or can the hubs be easily tested to confirm they are bent before replacing them?

Can anything else (less expensive to try fixing) cause brake discs to warp super quickly (assuming normal brake usage)?

I am hesitant to drop $1,200 (about 1/4 the value of the car) at 116,000 miles…

Any ideas would be super appreciated!!

Cheap aftermarket rotors along with severly overheating brakes caused by sticking calipers can cause that. Your mechanic should have checked the hub bearing for play by holding the wheel with one hand at the 6 o’ clock position and the other hand at the 12 o’clock position. Any play there will confirm a bad hub bearing. Don’t go back to this mechanic ever again.

1 Like

From what you said, I’m not too impressed with this guy’s troubleshooting. Think about this - you had driven 100K+ miles and hadn’t warped the rotors. After 3K miles, they’re warped and the mechanic guesses that you’re braking too hard. Then he also suggests that the hubs (again, which, strangely hadn’t caused any problems for 100K+ miles) are the problem. Seems like the problem is likely with the parts or the installation work performed.

If you get this resolved, I’d take future work elsewhere.

1 Like

I tend to agree with you that it’s not the hubs.
That being said, you can’t rule out parts just because they hadn’t caused any noticeable problem previously for 100k miles. After that amount of usage, any parts can start failing and cause other problems.

Rotors and pads are both sacrificial parts. The pads normally wear out faster than the rotors but rotors loose material as well. At some point, they loose enough material that they can’t dissipate the heat as well and then they tend to warp and have run-out. The original rotors seem to have given excellent service life. I wonder, how many pad changes did you have done in that time frame?

The bigger question is why did the replacements fail so quickly? First possibility that come to mind is very cheap parts. I’ve had the white box rotors fail very quickly, even sooner than yours.

The second possibility that comes to mind is that there remains something wrong with the braking system. The first test I would have done would be to measure the run-out on both front rotors to see if one side is bad or both and by how much. Also inspecting the pads for wear amount and patterns. This could tell you something about where to look next. Like if one of the calipers is hanging up and causing the issue. And that could be a caliper slide pin, caliper piston or flex hose failing.

The hub suggestion is the last idea and all the other diagnostic stuff should be done first to rule out more likely suspects before blindly replacing more expensive components that have low probability of being the problem. Perhaps this is the equivalent of the “go away quote” since they couldn’t find anything easy to explain it or were too lazy to continue diagnosing it…

The unknown is whether or not the rotors were checked to verify that the problem is the rotors and not something like a worn suspension or steering component.

Many assume (even some mechanics) that a brake shudder automatically means the problem is in the rotors.

“Significanlty warped” should mean that any rotor problem is easily detectable with a dial indicator and/or micrometer. Many mechanics don’t even own a dial indicator or micrometer; ergo, back to assumptions.

I hesitate to recommend the repair due to the unknown.

Far more likely than needing hubs is a problem in a caliper or both: sticking on its slider pins, piston stuck in bore, internally collapsed hose. The pads may be wearing unevenly, pointing to this problem, but if they are quite new it may be too early to tell.

Thanks for all the replies-

I did confirm that he was butting genuine Honda discs on. He also claimed that they thoroughly inspected the brakes- including calipers and couldn’t anything they thought could be causing such quick warping…

I definitely don’t want to work with this shop anymore- but I’m also worried in this particular case to take it to a new place since the couple places I talked with so far want to start by just replacing or resurfacing the (basically new) rotors.


Some oddity that can happen is this. For the sake of discussion consider the rotors are perfect but there’s a small amount of wear in a wheel bearing, suspension or steering component, etc.
The brakes operate in a normal manner.

After some time the rotors may warp a small amount which in a tight car may not even be noticed by the driver However, with a small amount of wear in what we will call Component A that small amount of rotor warpage or parallelism now becomes noticeable.
I just don’t believe rotors should be condemned unless they are checked with the proper tools to remove all doubt.

And yes, I understand why some shops/mechanics don’t do the checks. It’s all about time which to a flat rate mechanic is extremely valuable. It’s much faster to say “You got a rotor problem” instead of spending 5 to 10 minutes actually checking them to remove all doubt about their condition.

1 Like

One strong arm mechanic over tightening the lug nuts on a car can cause warping rotors again and again. If they didn’t use a torque wrench, they should.

1 Like

A bigger concern for me would be if the mech did not properly clean the hub surfaces. 100k miles around here and you are going to have rust. Lug centric/hub centric, regardless, you have to clean that face and around the lugs/hub center where the rotor will seat with tight tolerance. If it’s not sitting flat to begin with, then you’re more likely to have issues soon after the “repair”.

I understand the reluctance to spend “extra” time but really, how long does it take to install a magnetic base dial indicator and measure the run out? I know how long it takes me and I’m not doing this stuff every day. Seems like eliminating another call back would make it worthwhile at twice the time.


And he also put on Honda pads right before your trouble started?

Here we go again. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with your hubs and I don’t believe that any of the rotors were warped. I believe the problem is with the pads that were used. As the pads bed in, that is as they wear down initially to match the rotors, even new rotors, hot spots form in the pads that cause some of the binders (resins) used in the friction material to either melt or vaporize, and in either case, get transfered to the rotors, some of it anyway.

When the binders cool down on the rotors, in future braking, the pads will grab unevenly, causing a pulsing felt in the brake pedal. In some cases where the resin transfer is on both sides of the rotors, but in different places, it can cause the steering wheel to shake.

Not to be judgmental here but I’m guessing that you are not hard on your brakes, that you use them gently. I say this because this happens to people who do not consider daily driving to be a competition to get ahead of everyone else and subsequently don’t need to slam on the brakes very often. Because of this, you don’t cause your brakes to get as hot as some people do.

You can verify everything above with a simple test. If your brakes are pulsing right now, go find an empty road, get up to around 60 mph and then do a hard braking, not to the point of lockup or activation of the anti-lock but almost to that point. As the car gets down to about 5 mph, let up and repeat. Two cycles of this should be all that is needed. After that the brakes should be a lot smoother, for another 3k anyway. Generally as the pads wear in, it does this less and less.

It also does this less with good quality brake pads too as they use better binders and less binders. The better brake pads use less binders and more friction materials and use higher pressure when manufacturing. They not only shudder less, they last much longer as well. For Honda, I like the OEM pads as well pads made by Wagner and Raybestos. I do not like any of the house brands of the popular auto parts chain stores. But that’s just my opinion.

I ran into this same cycle years ago – warping after 3-5K with new rotors. Not the rotors or hubs. Lug nut tightening: as mentioned above, do NOT use air tools to mount tires. Torque in a star pattern by hand. Have seen this issue with major tire chains using torque sticks. Always torque lug nuts by hand.

1 Like