Impala vibration

My 03 Impala LS has the dreaded Impala brake vibrations. I recently had it up to 80-85 mph and the vibrations smoothed out and it has been vibration free for several days now.

What happened? Is it possible I’ve had a stuck brake piston that got unstuck or what?

Any insights are appreciated.

You’re going to need to describe your issue better. “dreaded Impala brake vibrations” doesn’t really say much. That’s not a “thing” in the world. Most any car is subject to vibrations on braking due to issues with brake rotors or front end steering/suspension parts issues.

If you are talking about a vibration only while braking then just describe it. Under exactly what conditions do you get vibration? Where do you actually feel the vibrations (foot, steering wheel, seat…)? What does going 80-85mph have to do with it. What exactly did you do and what were the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the vibrations?

When you used your brakes from 80-85 mph, you heated the rotors up enough to burn off any deposits from bedding in the pads. It will be smooth for awhile. When the vibrations come back, try some hard stops from 60-65 down to about 5 mph. That should be enough to clean off the rotors again.

Very interesting. I didn’t actually brake much from 80-85 mph - certainly not down to 5-10 mph but I can relate to an issue with deposits on the rotors. The rotors will rust up (unevenly) in only 2 or 3 days (depending on the weather) of not driving. The vibration on stopping can then be quite intense but subsides after a few times braking.

Thanks much

I still find the nature of your issue very unclear and when you came back in you didn’t clarify anything. Is this vibration only while braking? If so then what does the going 80-85 have to do with it if that didn’t involve hard braking?

Your rotors can build up rust up in a matter of hours. If that made brakes vibrate most people would get that everyday and so would you. If you think you’re getting brake vibration from a little rust build up you should have a good shop check out your front end, including your wheel bearings. Sometimes vibration on braking points to issues in front-end steering/suspension.

It may have been mud or something on the wheel throwing it out of balance. (longshot)

I was also thinking it could have been a wheel balance issue of some sort. We are sort of left guessing since I don’t imagine I am the only person who has never heard of “the dreaded Impala brake vibration” since various NVH issues such as this are not confined to one specific model. The only thing I can come up with is the possibility of badly pitting rotors. This seems to be common on many cars that have had their friction components replaced at some point with the cheapest junk available, and it does seem to afflict Impalas, as well as many other GM vehicles that share the Impala’s underpinnings (perhaps because there are a lot of them on the road?), and a lot of other makes for that matter. Try installing some better quality pads and rotors if the problem you are describing is caused by badly pitted rotors.

The dreaded vibration is warped rotors which I’ve read on line is a recurring problem with many Impalas. I’ve had the front rotors replaced with good ones and rear rotors resurfaced which mitigated the problem 2 years ago but the vibration came back. I’ve also replaced all 4 tires (the dealer checked both the wheels and the almost new tires and concluded the tires were unbalanced) - it didn’t really help. The dealer and my mechanic both say the bearings are OK (one was replaced under warranty back in '05). The rotors are not pitted and yes they do rust quickly which, in hot dry weather, makes for very rough braking until the rust is cleaned off. All this is why it so strange to have the vibration go away just because I drove at 85mph. Seems unlikely I unwarped the rotors or reseated the bearings. It also vibrates less in the rain. That’s why I wonder if a sticky piston has been the problem all along. I’m mystified.

You still haven’t even said under what conditions you get the vibrations. What you say implies that it only vibrates when braking. But other things that you say don’t imply it. E.g. your tires will have nothing at all to do with a vibration problem if its only about braking. Going 85mph will have nothing whatsoever to do with brake vibration unless you did a hard stop or two from 85 mph.

So maybe asking the third time is a charm? Shall I spell it out?

  1. does the car vibrate ONLY while braking?

  2. if so, where do you feel the vibration? braking foot? steering wheel? seat?

  3. does it ever vibrate when you’re NOT braking? If so when?

  4. what exactly happened when you went 85mph? You were going along vibrating but then hit 85 and it stopped? Or what?

No one here even yet knows whether this has anything to do with brakes or with something else entirely.

car vibrated while driving, can feel it in the floor, center console (CD’s rattle), thru the accelerator peddle but NOT in the steering wheel. Car tracks very straight - no drift to either side). Nothing noticeable happened at 85mph, I didn’t brake hard or do anything. The vibration just smoothed out and it has been smoother ever since at all speeds. Weird!

If I had to guess I’d say you just ended up with some kind of debris - such as a clump of mud - stuck up on the inside of one of the wheels. It threw off wheel balance until it was eventually flung off.

If the vibration isn’t while braking then its very unlikely to have a thing to do with the brakes.