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DIY Brake Job Question

I did my first brake job at home and about a week after noticed how much my steering wheel has been shaking on the freeway between 50-65mph. The only thing I had done that could have caused this to happen was the brake job. I believe the problem I am experiencing has to do with me being a rookie and not replacing or having my rotors turned. Now that I have driven 150 miles or so am I able to pull off the rotors and have them turned without having to replace the new pads? I dont want to have the rotors turned and then put the new pads back on with the 150 miles on them and experience the same problem again. Any thoughs would be appreciated. Thanks

Replacing the brake pads should not cause the steering wheel to shake. Are you sure the wheel nuts are torqued correctly?

Warped rotors will make the steering wheel shake, but only while braking. I do not recommend turning rotors. If they are warped or thin, replace them with new rotors.

First things first. Is the shaking only when you apply the brakes?
If not, then the rotors aren’t the issue. You have wheel(s) out of balance, or you might not have tightened the lug nuts correctly.

If it is only while braking, then it would be wiser to replace the rotors instead of having them turned. Your almost new brake pads should still be okay, but they will have to wear for a while to get the ridges that the old rotors might have cut into them out. During this time, your braking will not be as good as it could be.

Well the wobble/shaking does not occur when I apply the brakes, only when cruising at 50-65mph. I recently had my tires balanced and rotated in addition to having all steering components inspected. Tie rods are good, rack and pinion bushings are new, upper and lower ball joints are relatively new, and the steering wheel wobble did not begin until right after the brake pads were replaced. Just by the process of elimination I don’t really know what else could all of the sudden cause the problem. After doing a little research I thought maybe because I did not have the rotors turned that the composition of the new brake pads might have some inconsistent friction with the rotors that I’m guessing still has the old brake pad material on it causing some type of wobble. I used a torque wrench to torque lugs to spec but if my pad theory doesnt make sense then I dont really know what else it could be. I guess it would be best to remove lugs and re-torque to see if it solves the problem. Any additional thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks

How old/how many miles are on those tires?

Presumably the wheel bearings were also checked when everything else in the front end was checked?

I would pull the wheels back off, pull the brakes apart again, pull the rotor, thoroughly clean the hub to rotor mating surface - it has to be perfectly smooth.

Then reinstall and re-do the torque. Drive 100 miles and retorque. Then see where things stand.

Take the car back where the wheels were balanced. Could be balanced wrong, or might have thrown a weight and now is out of balance.

It’s quite possible to have shuddering brakes after replacing pads only. That’s why the proper repair always involves servicing the rotors and the caliper slides.

I would raise the front wheels off the ground and rotate the wheels by hand. They should rotate smoothly and if you can feel one or both of the wheels dragging in spots that could point to a caliper slide problem or even a sticking piston in the caliper.

Make, year, model, mileage?? If it’s a standard FWD car, raise one front wheel at a time and use the engine to spin the wheel assembly. it will be spinning TWICE as fast as the speedometer indicates, so be careful 35 MPH indicated max. See if you can duplicate the vibration. If you can, have the wheels re-balanced…

For reasons that are beyond me, sometimes removing a tire and wheel and rotating it so that one hole lines up with the next stud may cure an imbalance problem that you seem to be having. You obviously had to take the wheels and tires off to replace the brake pads. When you put the wheels back on, you probably didn’t put the wheels back in the same position in relation to the studs.

I had new tires installed on a 2003 Toyota 4Runner and had the same problem. The tire shop moved the wheel in relation to the studs. The vibration was gone. They called this “indexing”.

This is a quick, cost free thing to try. Your rotors are probably o.k. if you don’t get a pulsation in the pedal when applying the brakes. My advice is to always try the simple cost-free solutions first.

I might add that when things like this happen after doing a job, don’t lose confidence in your work. I replaced the distributor points in the first car I owned–a 1947 Pontiac. After replacing the points, the car would crank, but wouldn’t fire up. I held the coil wire near the block and snapped the points. I got a healthy spark. When I cranked the engine, I got no spark at the plugs. I rechecked the point gap and checked the plug gap. Nothing made a difference. My Dad came along, picked up something off the front fender and held it up. “Could this be your problem?” he asked. He was holding the distributor rotor that I had forgotten to put back in. It’s usually the simple things that get you.

It would be highly advisable to remove the front wheels paying close attention to whether all the nuts were tight. Roll each wheel back and forth listening for liquid inside. Liquid will cause the problem. If no problem is indicated replace the wheels, tightening the nuts in stages in a criss-cross pattern.

BTW, stop leak is the most common cause for liquids in tires causing out of balance problems. The shaking begins just above 45 mph and centrifugal force throws the liquid out evenly at higher speed making the problem disappear. Have you used fix a flat lately?

The Wheels were mounted last December 2009 and have never been repaired in any way. I think my best bet at this point is to remove tires calipers and rotors to perform cleaning. When I re-install I will again pay close attention to even torque of the lugs and see if this solves my problem. Thanks for the suggestions.

If you did the brake job after you had the wheels mounted, if you didn’t mount the wheels so each stud went through the same hole, you could have the problem. I would still try moving the wheel to the next bolt hole and see what happens.

Thanks for your input…Will try suggestion tonight.