[VIDEO] Does Braking Make Your Car Vibrate? Here’s How You Fix It
Here is a question for the automotive-inclined out there: what is wrong with your car if stepping on the brakes causes a strange thudding sensation, almost as if your brakes are catching in certain places more than others, while your car vibrates?
If you guessed, “warped brake rotor,” then congratulations, you could have been correct. After people who know better suggested replacing the rotor, I was easily able to fix the problem, and no longer had to stare at my wheels in confusion as I drove back and forth to work.
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Here, let me show you how:
For those of you unable to watch the above (reading shamefully in the office or while balancing your phone on your knee in the bathroom), first let me tell you that you are really missing out, since in the video, I give you some extra tips to make things easier–but anyway, let me break the process down pretty simply:
First, take your wheel off. You’re going to want to do that by loosening your lug nuts first, then jacking up your car, then taking the nuts and wheel off.
Second, take off the brake caliper and pad bracket. For the uninitiated, this is the large, ugly metal thing that wraps around the circular brake rotor.
You will need a socket wrench set, and most likely a short length of pipe to slide over the handle to give you the leverage you need, usually called a “breaker bar” (because it “breaks” the static friction holding the bolt in place). The caliper is most likely held on by bolts on the interior side. After you take it off, though, don’t drop it or let it hang from that hose, or you will be facing the double problem of brake fluid everywhere and suddenly needing to fix the damage to your brake line.
Third, take off the old rotor and put the new one on. A few places say to hit the old one with a hammer or rubber-headed mallet to remove it, but mine came off fairly easily by just pulling.
Finally, reverse the steps. Put the caliper and bracket back on (if it won’t fit back on, then you will most likely need to take a great big wrench or a c-clamp to squeeze back in the piston itself, which is the multi-tiered hydraulic press-looking thing behind the brake pads—it will be a little difficult to do), then replace the wheel and lug nuts (although don’t tighten all the way until you put it back on the ground).
IMPORTANT NOTE HERE: If you did need to push back in the brake piston, the first time you step on the brakes, it will not work. Before you move, step on the brakes a few times to get the piston extended the correct amount.
Congratulations! You just replaced your own brake rotor, a feat that, to the uninitiated, sounds fairly impressive along with a sigh, cracking open a beverage of your choosing, and a “Welp, my rotors are warped, so I had to throw the car up on jacks, unbolt the calipers, and just get in there, you know?”
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Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.