Tires seem to skid when I hit the brakes hard

I drive a 2003 Toyota Camry. For the last six months or so I feel a skid on one of my tires when I hit the brakes a little harder than usual. It seems the problem occurs after the car has been driving for a while. I took the car by my repair shop the last 4 or 5 times it happened and they assure me that the treads of the tires and the brake padding are fine and cant explain what it is I am seeing. They think everything is fine.

the symptoms are that I drive for a bit and then when I hit the brakes the car seems to skid a little before coming to a full stop. Its kind of what happens when you drive a car with balding tyres.

Any ideas? This is driving me crazy. The car has only had about 70 miles on it and I have had tio rebuild the engine one time so I am reluctant to get rid of it too soon. I know there is a problem but for the life of me I cant figure out what it is,

How old are the tires (how many miles on them)? If they are fairly new, have you always had this skidding issue with the tires? What pressure are the tires inflated to? You should use the pressure on the plaque on the driver’s door sill, not the maximum inflation pressure on the tires. Look at the tire tread from inner side wall to outer side wall. Are all 4 worn evenly? Uneven wear can lead to loss of grip.

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Why do you say it feels like a skid in only ONE of the tires? Do you hear a sound? Because a skidding tire on dry pavement will definitely make a noise. Does it happen EVERY time you brake hard?

You don’t say if it is a front or a rear tire that locks up but it is most likely a rear tire. Front drive cars can’t use much brake power in the rear due to less of the total car weight on the back tires plus weight transfer to the front wheels while braking and so a brake proportioning valve is needed. Brake proportioning valve failure is rare but ask if it might be the problem. One tire skidding, however, makes the brake function of that wheel suspect also.

How about an ABS malfunction? (provided your car is abs equipped).

Do you notice any pulling to the left or right when you brake? Find a large empty parking lot and do some brake test stops. Look for the tell-tale skid marks. Does your car have ABS brakes? If so, you should not be able to lock the wheels…Have an outside observer or two observe the cars wheels as you perform the brake tests…

Caddyman makes a good point about ABS. I would think your car does have ABS. Are you familiar with how ABS brakes work, and do you know how it feels when the ABS kicks in? Some people have never felt an ABS system work and don’t know what’s happening when their ABS kicks in for the first time. Maybe what’s happening when you brake hard is, a tire is starting to skid and the ABS is kicking in as it should.

A somewhat similar situation that came to me turned out to be a poorly machined rotor. An otherwise perfect brake job at a local franchise shop left the owner with a wheel that would often lock when braking hard on wet pavement. I puzzled over the situation repeatedly before pulling the rotors off and comparing them side by side. When I switched positions of the rotors the locking followed the somewhat rough cut rotor. My training in using a brake lathe included finishing up turning by running a disc sander over the surface to remove the tracking and that minor polishing took care of the locking brakes.

Thanks a bunch everyone.

During a previous visit to the mechanics he mentioned something about uneven wearing of the tires due to the tires having been under inflated but I did not fully understand what he meant.

As per jtsanders suggestion I took a second look at my tires and I definitely see signs of uneven wearing. And there are certain stretches during my commute when the drag on the wheels seems more pronounced. This could certain be due to the dry pavements.

So if the problem is uneven wearing of the tires then whats the solution? Do I need to replace the tires? Is the car safe to drive in the current state? Like I said, I have experienced this problem for several months now.

If the tires are worn unevenly to the point where it is both visible and it affects the car’s braking performance, I strongly suggest that you replace them.

However, it is not enough to simply replace the tires.

Make sure that they are dynamically balanced by the tire shop.
Get a 4 wheel alignment.
Check the tire pressure every month or so, and correct if necessary, so that they are inflated to at least the pressures listed on the label on the driver’s door jamb. (3 or 4 lbs of additional pressure is a good idea, and make sure that you do NOT inflate the tires to the pressure listed on the tire sidewall!)
And, make sure that in the future, you rotate the tires on a consistent basis, such as every 5k miles or every 7.5k miles.

If you do all of these things, your tires should wear evenly, and your car will handle and brake much more safely.

Is the uneven tire wear due to one of the brakes locking up to make the tire skid? If uneven tire wear would cause brake lockup at one wheel as easily as it seems for your car, it would have been heard of more frequently but it has not as evidenced by the posted replies. Find another brake mechanic or even two more for more opinions!

I wonder whether this couldn’t be a bad brake hose going to one of the calipers.
Those things can act like check valves when they get old, locking that on wheel up…

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It would be helpful if the OP would actually do (and report) the braking tests which Caddyman advised in order to really know what is actually going on. The OP is fixated on a tire losing traction, somehow due to wear or something, but really it sounds more like a brake problem. Is the tire really skidding? Is it actually sliding on the pavement? We only have a vague description, which doesn’t seem based in direct observation, just a report from the driver’s seat.

And what does this mean?

there are certain stretches during my commute when the drag on the wheels seems more pronounced

OP needs to give more explicit information.

I had a car with rear drum brakes. When it had been in the rain or really humid and sat for a while, taking it out in the morning, the one rear wheel would lock up and skid at the first brake application. Wouldn’t stop for anything that first time, then would be ok again. The shoes were fairly new but replacing the shoes again took care of the problem. Might have been contaminated or whatever, who knows. Opposite your problem but got to be either the pads or the rotor.

2003 was the last year abs was not standard on some models. If that is yours, IMO, it’s a matter of coefficient of friction and that tire, for some reason, does not have enough. Tread life, weight on that side or road surface. If it continues, take it to a brake specialist, not just a dealer/independent. We have one in our area that even local dealers use for a variety of issues. First though, I would rotate my tires and see if the issue follows the tire.

I am having the same problem with my 03 Corolla. I had my tires checked multiple times and everyone says the tread is fine. But it’s getting bad for about a year now to the point where I"m nervous. Is it at all related to weight of the car or any other reason? Also my brakes are fine they say.

Two symptoms:
doesn’t stop real well in the rain if I’m going at any speed above 30 mph and I have to stop quickly for some reason
slips when starting from a stop light in the rain and I have to put my foot on and off the gas to go

So I wonder if you solved your problem and what it was.

The person who started this thread has been gone for four years. You need new tires and your problem will be solved.

Suggest you post your question as a new topic @demeo20 . Click on Maintenance/Repairs, then the blue box at the upper right.

What tires do you have? How old are they? Some tires (usually ones designed for long tread life) tend to do this from the start and they just get worse as they harden over time.

My 1960 Rambler Custom with 4 wheel drum brakes was also counter to normal. The first time I drove it through 3 inches of water I lightly applied left foot pressure to the brakes while attempting to maintain about 25mph with the accelerator. This was the normal method of drying drum brakes that tended to slip until dried with friction generated heat. All 4 brakes grabbed and stopped the car! It happened every time I got the brakes wet. I have owned and driven many vehicles with 4 wheel or rear wheel drum brakes and no others did that.