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Vibration After Changing Rotors

So I changed my brake pads and rotors a couple weeks ago. When I took the car out when finished and bedded in the pads, no issues. The next day, about halfway to work, I had a steering wheel vibration. Not when braking, just when driving. Starts around 40/45 gets worse through about 60/65, then starts to mellow out, although it doesn’t fully go away. No pulsation or vibration when braking. Since then, I have had the wheels balanced, replaced bad control arm bushings and still have the vibration. Went in today and cleaned the wheel mating surface on the rotor hat. Made no difference. At this point, I am thinking I have a rotor that is not balanced. This was a C-Tek rotor from Centric. What do you guys think, swap out some new rotors? I am at a loss at this point as to what might be causing this.

First, I would check that you don’t have a wheel bearing on it’s way out.

Second, I would check that the inner and outer tie rod ends do not have any play in them.

Third, I would check the run-out at the rotors.
I have gotten bad rotors out of the box.

You also could have a tire that is out of balance.


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tire out of balance is my guess. I once had new tires with that problem. Two trips back to the tire store to get them rebalanced did no good. Finally took it to a Pep boy’s (yes, I know) and all was fine after that.

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I’m leaning towards a bad tire or rim, most likely a bad tire


I agree

New rotors may have been warped when the wheels were re-installed. Were the lug nuts tightened in three rounds in proper sequence to the correct final torque? Are the lug nuts seating against the wheel as designed and evenly all the way around?

It’s usually pretty easy to check for bent wheels/rotors. Figure out a way to hold the tip of a pencil about a mm from the rotor (or wheel) surface – clip the pencil to a footstool or something – then hand rotate the wheel to see if that 1 mm dimension stays more or less the same for all 360 degrees of wheel rotation.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to clean up the hub flange of any rust prior to installing new rotors.

This insures the rotor seats squarely onto the hub flange thereby preventing any run-out of the rotor.

This is the tool I use to clean up hub flanges prior to installing new rotors.


Tester’s post above reminds me that occasionally diy’er here will report they forget to thoroughly clean the new rotors with hot soap and water and a scrub-brush before installing them, after which problems like this ensue. The new rotors are coated with an anti-rust material that must be completely removed, otherwise it will embed in and contaminate the brake pad surfaces.

I use a cheap can of brake cleaner, not only for the rotors but to also get rid of other gunk around the brake system

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I have the OTC hub cleaning kit. Just like the 3M one posted by Tester. I was meticulous cleaning the wheel hub. I also cleaned the rotors with soap and water. So I am pretty confident the vibrations do not result from one of those two issues. The thing that really stumps me is how there was no vibration right after the change and then there was the next day.

You may want to take a second look at your brake calipers. A sticking caliper could cause vibration at speeds of 40 mph and up.

Did you install OEM specific rotors?

Or cheap white box rotors?


I think OP said he purchased C-Tek rotor from Centric. I don’t think they even come in a box :grin:

Actually, I feel Centric brakes are fair quality, as far as aftermarket parts go

I’d rather have factory brakes, but you could do far worse than Centric

Maybe you bumped a wheel weight, and it finally fell off.

(However, the older I get, the less stumped I am over coincidence and just accept it.)


Yup. Not OEM rotors. Calculated risk being that they are a centric product.

My first thought too was that the rust prevention coating wasn’t cleaned from the rotors before installation.
To the OP; there’s a spray available at any parts store specifically sold to clean that film off of new rotors. It’s well worth the few bucks.

I had read about this. I don’t notice any difference (hand test) in temps from right to left. How would I test for this other than an extremely hot wheel?

Here’s an article about installing cheap brake rotors.


With a noncontact infrared thermometer.

Once you get one, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it.