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Just how bad is a "one-sided" brake job?

Here’s the story: just replaced the front passenger side wheel bearing on my '98 Contour. Doing so required destruction of the rotor, and a new one was installed. Alas, just before hooking up the brake pads, I dopped one, which detatched from the metal backing.

So, now I need a brake job (and do the other rotor while I’m at it). Unfortunately, I only have money for the pads until Wed.

How bad would it be to do the passenger side, ride on it that way until I can afford the rotor on Wed, then do the driver side? The other option is to do both sides, then add the disc on Wed (effectively two brake jobs on the driver’s side). I understand that the passenger side will grip a little less that it otherwise would until bedded, but it that, in and of itself, a safety issue? Are there any other associated problems with this?

If you’re planning to change the rotor, do not install the new pads with the old one still in place. They will quickly wear to match any grooves in the surface and that might lead to squealing and other performance issues when you put in the new rotor. Better to wait IMO. It’ll be fine, especially for only a few days and you understanding there may be slight performance difference between sides. Glad to hear the rotor came off, curious how you managed to get it off…

Thanks. Honestly I don’t know how it came off; I had a shop professionally press the new bearing in and they must’ve used same press on the rotor.

I would say that little harm would be done but I would try to avoid high speed driving.
The part that would concern me would be the bit about the lining detaching from the backing. No way would I use pads that come apart that quickly.
That’s very strange and if simply dropping one separated the lining/backing then what would a panic stop do?
What brand of brake pads is this?

I wonder if what came lose might have been a shim.

No, the (bonded) pad material seperated from the metal backing when dropped. I bought the car used; previous owner was the State of Illinois, who used it to train emissions techs (meaning it idled a lot and didn’t go anywhere in particular). Thus, I’ll bet the pads were rather old for the wear on them.

Incidentally, the combo of new (thick) rotor and new (thick) pads, while allowing free turning of wheel, causes the caliper to just brush against the rim, causing noise that ceases when brakes are applied (even slightly). Would using 4 washers around lugs as a shim be safe (lugs still extend beyond lug nuts)?

The first thing I did when I noticed this was to tear down and re-do the brake job–everything checked OK; guess the new pads+rotors are just thicker than what I took off!

You can sand the pads when you get the new rotor. Lay the sandpaper (120 grit or just pick some that doesn’t look like rocks glued to paper), lay sandpaper on a board or workbench and move the pad back and forth two or three times and you should be in great shape. It’s easier than it sounds. I did it before when I got a truck that had fairly new pads but were installed on bad rotors.

I am pretty sure that using washers would not be a good idea.