Warped rotors

I either have a stunningly honest mechanic . . . or a foolish one. Whatta think?

Honda Fit – warped rotors @ 16,000 . . . now again @ 35,000.

Indie garage says, “Don’t do anything about it until you need new pads (about 90,000 miles). It doesn’t hurt braking or the car, and it saves you money – otherwise you have to replace both rotors and pads long before needed.”

Brakes pulse dramatically – sometimes forcing rapid downshifting. Seems to be getting worse.

I’m inclined to foot the bill for rebuilding them, but I can probably live with it if it truly doesn’t hurt anything. (I virtually never have passengers. If I did, I’d definitely do the repair.)

What do you think?

When the rotors were warped at 16K miles, were they replaced or machined?

If they were machined it would explain why they’re warped again.

Personally, if it’s shaking the car that dramatically, I’d replace the rotors and the pads. Then I’d reconsider my driving style. You must do a lot of heavy braking.

I don’t understand the link between the brake pulsation and the downshifting. Is this a manual or an automatic?

Thanks for thoughts . . .

Machined @ 16,000

Downshifting manual transmission for initial “engine braking” – to get speed where pulsing isn’t as great.

Not aggressive driver or floor-it-and-stop guy. However, I may have started the first time warp by driving a few miles with emergency brake on. I don’t believe I have done that since. Mechanic says tire outfit is banging lug nuts on too hard.

The brake riding may have been a factor - so too is the lug nut problem. Unfortunately you have to specifically ask that a torque wrench is used and that the lugs are put to proper spec. It actually helps to stand there and watch. I have taken to retorquing my lugs anytime someone else has had my wheels off.

I would not drive around like this - it isn’t safe.

Thanks to both of you. I appreciate your taking time to share you knowledge and experience.

You’ve moved me off the dime . . . I’m going to get them rebuilt.

Don’t ever waste time/money by getting rotors machined anymore. They are too thin to begin with. Just replace them with good quality rotors, otherwise you’ll just be doing it again real soon.

I don’t like to get too technical, but what you need/should ask for is new rotors and new pads. “Rebuilt” may apply to your calipers, but you don’t want your rotors machined again. If your calipers are functioning OK, then they don’t need to be rebuilt.

Some aftermarket and I suspect OEM rotors have major quality problems. Many are made in China out of recycled cast iron which can behave unpredictably…So when you buy new rotors, try to get the best ones you can…

And yes, over-tightening the lug nuts with air-wrenches is a SURE way to warp the rotors. The CORRECT torque is usually MUCH less than tire-busters apply…It only takes moderate torque to insure the tapered-seat lug-nuts do not come loose…

I think he just meant “rebuilt” in the loose sense - as in having the whole bit (pads & rotors) redone. I’m just assuming b/c the question of calipers never came up (unless I missed it).


Honda dealer – perhaps predictably – elected to machine vs. replace (under warranty).

And, indeed, as you say, I felt faint pulsing almost from the outset (post-machining), but it took a while to get really bad again.

Thank you . . . is there a reliable after-market brand for them?

Yes, thanks. I was too casual with my language . . . replacing pads and rotors.

Be sure they wash your bearings in solvent, and check for wear as long as they apart anyway. If you have bearing wear replace and repack the bearings.

Thank you very much. I appreciate the tip . . .

Downshifting manual transmission for initial “engine braking” – to get speed where pulsing isn’t as great.

Keep in mind that brakes are a lot less expensive than transmissions. The choice is not clear cut. There are reasons down shifting and for not. I will start slowing down well before the light. Once my foot is off the peddle I am using zero fuel until I get out of gear. I don’t need to use the brakes as much as most drivers, and I don’t down shift very often.

Good luck. My money was the attempt to machine them and they are now too thin.

Thanks for the tips . . . .

Brake parts purchased in NAPA stores generally can be relied on as can the OEM parts…

Thanks for the follow up . . .

Over and out.

Your wheel bearings are sealed, they can’t be “washed”

Your mechanic is right.

There is some real bad advice here. First, your rotors are not warped, if they were, you would get a shimmy in the steering wheel, not a pulsing in the brake pedal. There is some controversy about the cause, but the simple cure is to find an empty road and hit the brakes hard from about 60 mph. Do not lock up the brakes or come to a complete stop.

You need to go hard enough on the brakes to heat them up good, but if you come to a complete stop, you will trap heat under the pads while the rest of the rotors cool down. That will warp them. You may have to do this twice but the pulsing will go away for awhile. It will probably return after a while but just repeat the procedure.

Do not rely on downshifting to slow the car. It works, but clutches and transmissions cost more than brakes.

Thanks for weighing in . . .

This is quite perplexing.

I have can have – depending on speed, urgency of the stop, on straight away or curve, etc. – pulsing in the brake pedal and – sometimes – shuddering in the front-end and steering wheel.

I tried the 60-to-near-zero a couple of times yesterday and today. It reduced the pulsing, but didn’t eliminate it.

I may have multiple things going on here. Off to see a great mechanic tomorrow.