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Stop here! Let's talk about brakes



  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    Pretty balmy there in the banana belt, is it? (:o>
  • hengheng Posts: 411
    the falling coconuts
  • ikoiko2uikoiko2u Posts: 13
    My wife's Focus SE (2000) brakes are making a squeeling noise when the pedal is pressed. The car has nearly 17,000 miles. The Ford dealer is saying a lot of Focus owners are coming in for new brakes @ 20,000 miles. Seems like low mileage for new brakes or pads. My wife is not a heavy handed driver. In contrast my 2000 Outback wagon has 39,000 and the original brakes. What's up with the Focus? Should I be suspcious of the dealer?
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    I have a friend who works for NAPA. He tells me that it is not at all uncommon at this time in automotive history for original equipment brake pads and shoes to be nearing the end of their service life at 20K miles. Many people opt to get replacements that match the originals, while others like me, go to the after market and seek out what we consider to be better pads and shoes from the likes of Bendix and Raybestos.
  • I just changed the front pads on my Ford Van @ 25,000 miles. I'm a little disapointed, since the last Ford Van lasted 50,000, before it needed changing. I didn't touch the rotors because no pulsation was felt, and the vanes were so badly rusted, if I took them off I would have replaced them. I never heard of the pads I got at Auto Zone. Albany was the name. They work well, and are quiet. Next step up was Raybestos semi-metallic. I've heard they tend to be hard on rotors so I went with the cheapie pads. I'll see how well they perform before I decide if they are good or not. I've heard alot of talk about brake rotors and that some brands are far better than others. Anyone know what the good brands are?
  • hengheng Posts: 411
    this is another premium brand I just installed on my Grand Prix. Don't know if they are available for trucks.

    Online they were the same price as premium pads locally. So I installed them recently. The original pads went 50k miles. These have a slightly better grab to them. Not a real noticeble difference. I hope they don't eat the rotors.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Carbon metallics work ok and they're not bad for rotor wear, but they're about the worst ever made for dusting. You'll be washing your front wheels a lot.
  • bigorange30bigorange30 Posts: 1,091
    Has anyone had any experience with any of them? Any suggestions?
  • nhepker1nhepker1 Posts: 13
    I was wondering how hard is it to change the front brake pads on a modern car? I've read the how-to article here at edmunds and it seems like they make it sound almost to easy. I don't want to start and find out I'm in over my head. One thing that I notice they don't mention is bleeding the brakes. Something that's been mentioned here several times. Is that something that won't be necessary? I've done basic work so far (oil, air filter, coolant and spark plugs) but nothing more complicated. So what are the odds I can do this job on a 99 Corolla w/o ABS?
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    You might want to consider getting a manual, such as those published by Chilton and Haynes. They can be a step-by-step guide that can instill confidence that you are covering the right bases as you proceed.
  • edwardt1edwardt1 Posts: 20
    I recently had to take my 2001 Deville in
    for a recurring brake problem. In the mornings when backing out of garage the car makes a loud noise almost like a fog horn. I was told in
    May that there was a service bulletin for this problem. I do not know what the repair was but it did take care of the problem for about six weeks.
    I took it back in last week and was told the problem was a result of armorall getting
    on the discs. Would this cause a problem? I am
    an infrequent user of the armorall.


  • thomarthomar Posts: 2
    I have an ES300 Lexus. Had a problem with my brakes not responding while pulling into my garage.when I applied the brakes again it lunged and hit the wall rather sharply. I know the ES300 has a transmission problem and I don't know if the two are connected. Has anyone experienced a like problem
  • jezejeze Posts: 15

    I just had my front and rear brakes redone, Pads(Raybestos Quiet Stop) and Rotors. Today after I parked my car I noticed that on the front left rotor that rings had formed. All the rest are OK though. Is this a problem? And what should be done to repair it. I want to know what I am talking about before I take it back in. Thanks for your help so far. I must admit this board is great.
  • ikoiko2uikoiko2u Posts: 13
    This is an update from my previous post (304).

    Earlier today our 2000 Focus SE Sedan with 21000 miles required a complete brake overhaul: new rotors and pads. My wife is not a heavy handed driver. She drives with two children (5,3). In our car ownership experience we have NEVER repaired the brakes before the warranty period expired. Heck, my 2000 Subaru Outback has 40000 on the original brakes and I'm a more agressive driver then the wife.

    The sad part of this is the Ford dealer service rep said the brake replacement is chronic with Focus. The brake repair, coupled with the various TSR's that have come out since 2000, has convinced us to stay away from Ford products.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    What do you mean by "rings"?
  • jezejeze Posts: 15
    Let me try to explain better. On the rotor, instead of being totally smooth, one has 3 or 4 darker circles of differing circumferences. Like someone took a black crayon and made circles on the rotor. Does this help?
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    Things like that can surely chase people away from a brand. My problem is, I cannot find a brand that doesn't have foibles that make me plenty unhappy! Who yuh gonna buy from? (|o[
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Could be something as simple as the mechanic not cleaning all the protective oil shipping coating off the rotor, or maybe some grease found it's way onto the surface during installation.
  • jezejeze Posts: 15
    Thanks for all your help so far. But should I just let it be, or should I take it back and have it looked at.

  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    I'd suggest you take it back and have the shop check it out. Might be nothing, but it'll put you in your comfort zone. Let us know the outcome.
  • pbwithpbwith Posts: 7

    I recently purchased a 1999 Toyota Camry LE. Since day #1, I've noticed some pretty load Break Squeaks when backing up only.

    Any thoughts why it is only when backing up. And, more importantly, what is wrong and how I might correct it ?

    Thanks !
  • 79377937 Posts: 390
    I've been away for some time and only read the posting by sjaz post#224 now. In it he describes that when he applies brakes there is a vibration and when he lets off and applies the brakes again the vibration is gone.

    I had a similar situation and traced the problem to slightly loose lugnuts. It seems like reapplying the brakes can pull the rotors into alignment and the vibration goes. The rotors will creep out of alignment again and when brakes are used once more the vibration will be back.

    The answer to the problem of course is to torque the lug nuts up correctly.
  • It might be wise to recheck the balance of all the wheels/tires as well. Out of balance tires can do strange things to ride quality.
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Posts: 398
    Hello all. The front rotors of my car were warped and I believe the dealer may have caused this by over tightening the lug nuts. I noticed them using an air impact driver last time they rotated the tires. (By the way my brake judder appeared about 2K miles after they rotated the tires, which was at about 12K miles on the clock.)

    Can anyone recommend a good torque wrench, so that I can check the wheels myself? Where do you get this sort of thing?

  • Sears is probably the easiest access for you. I bought one when I was in high school from Montgomery Wards, and I still use it. My 40th reunion is in a couple weeks... >:^[
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Posts: 398
    Thanks! They have two types - one with a dial, and the other starts skipping once you reach the preset torque. Which one is better?

    Thanks again.
  • My understanding is that the "bending bar" type of wrenches, like my Montgomery Ward wrench, are the most accurate. They can be fatiguing to use due to hard-to-read angles, etc. that you inevitably fall into. The "breaking" wrenches (clickers) are a bit less accurate, but a lot easier to deal with, once you set them for a particular torque. I have an off shore made breaker type that I don't use much, because I don't like setting it! Lazy! I have very successfully used my bender for reassembly on automotive and motorcycle engine overhauls. When I observe other people using torque wrenches, they seem to be using breakers.
    Oh, yeah-- Breakers are expensive compared to benders.
  • pangapanga Posts: 23
    Didn't find this question on the message board, but I apologize if this is a repeat question.

    I've seen this problem on my 97 Honda Prelude recently. After sitting for a few hours (usually overnight), the brake pedal is really hard to depress. Once I turn the engine on, the pedal has some play, and after about 20-30 seconds, it seems to depress okay. If I stop the engine and retry at this point, the pedal still works fine. During normal driving, there seems to be no problem at all with the car/braking.

    Another side effect seems to be that as the car is warming up, application/release of the brake pedal causes the rpm to fluctuate suddenly (~2-300rpm).

    I spoke to a local mechanic, and he says this is normal behavior. But I am quite sure that I could depress the brakes even when the car was cold, before I started noticing this.

    Any advice?
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    The power brake booster is vacuum suspended, meaning it has manifold vacuum on both sides of it's diaphragm when the engine's running. After the engine is shut off, vacuum slowly bleeds off until there's atmospheric pressure on both sides. Results in a hard pedal with the engine off. Normal. Here's the vacuum booster test:

    1- Start engine and run at idle for 30 seconds. Shut off engine, wait 30 seconds, and depress brake pedal. Should be enough reserve vacuum for 2-3 applications. If it fails this test the vacuum check valve is defective.

    2- With engine off, pump brake pedal until hard (vacuum reserve depleted). Hold pedal down firmly and start engine. Pedal should drop slightly when engine starts. Verifies booster operation.

    Each brake application admits air into the engine's intake system, temporarily leaning out the fuel mixture. A fluctuation in idle speed is normal.
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Posts: 398
    fleetwoodsimca - thanks for the advice!

    I just bought the "bend" type.
  • Hi,

    I have a 98 Explorer 4wd that is having some issues with the ABS system. When I am braking at lower speeds (less than 20mph), every time I hit a bump in the pavement, the ABS will activate for a second or two. This can happen for about 6-10 times before the ABS light goes on and the problem goes away (I assume its because the ABS stopped working). The next time I restart the vehicle, the ABS light is off and the process happens all over again.

    Any ideas on what could be causing the problem?

  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    sticking brakes? by any chance is there any evidence of a leak at the axle seals? if there is goop on the brakes, that could have a direct impact. otherwise, likely a wheel sensor sending a false signal instead is possible. but the "6 and out" aspect makes me wonder if you've got axle lube getting on your pads or the back of the rotor, thus a grabbing brake.
  • hengheng Posts: 411
    A recent article on braking performance answered a nagging question: whether or not just changing brake pads to high performance types would improve braking performance.

    Answer: Yes/No, In repeated stops from 90 mph, stopping distances (in feet) were:
    stock hi-perf
    1st 317 305
    2nd 335 300
    3rd 345 312
    4th 363 345

    So by the 4th stop the brake fade on the hi-perf pads were catching up to the stock pads. Judgement says by the 5th or 6th stop they would be essentially the same.

    But since the 1st 3 data points are more representative of driving on public roads by 'normal' drivers, there might be a benefit. Although the only perceived difference when I put hi-perf pads on was that the pads were a little grabbier.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    looks like only a couple percentage points of improvement to me. it would have been interesting to have had the tests conducted at street-legal speeds, as the manufacturers and government and insurance guys do, so it means something in comparison.

    as it is, it only matters in the turn to stock car drivers, Montanans, and those who are subject in this legal jurisdiction to "board-o-nails" and patrol-car-sacrifice stops to protect the public good on the public roads, along with license forfeiture when caught.

    remember out there, 186,000 miles per second is not just a good idea, it's the law!
  • Getting a little "light" there, in the speed, are you? (;o]
  • hengheng Posts: 411
    At legal speeds - my guess is that the benefits of hi-perf pads will be smaller yet. So although this article came out after I bought and installed hi-perf pads, I doubt it would have saved me any money. I would have installed the Bendix titanium pads which cost about the same (and probably perform about the same)

    The hi-perf pads was only part of the article but the most relevant. The real meat of the article was the after market rotors/calibers/pads sets sold by Brembo, Prodrive and Stoptech. Bottom line: these sets give you consistent stopping performance from the 1st stop to the 25th and beyond. The sets tested cost from $1700 to $3000.

    Other conclusions: Performance was independent of price (actual best performing was the $1700 set). The crossed drill rotors did not show an advantage over the slotted rotors.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Even the 4th stop showed an 18 foot decrease over stock pads. If the high perf pads will stop me 1 foot short of the other guy's rear bumper that's good enough for me.
  • Many years ago, I had to have an "emergency" brake job done in Grand Prairie, as I was passing through in my Travelall headed for White Horse and points beyond. The folks there at the company International Harvester store turned a frightening set of circumstances into a sense of assurance that all would be well. I wonder if any posters out there know what ever came of that business establishment. Even after 26 years, I recall with great pleasure the experience I had getting my vehicle repaired and me back on the road, with little delay in my trip. I had reservations for the ferry at Homer, Alaska, to take me to Kodiak Island, in compliance with official active duty orders. This was a tight schedule. Believe me, it had everything to do with brakes!
  • jezejeze Posts: 15
    Well not that interesting but kinda scary. here's the problem. Whenever I hit a big bump while braking I loose my brakes. The only way to get them to work is to release the brakes and brake again. I live in Boston, so this problem isn't pretty considering all the horrible roads.

    Any ideas. Thanks in Advance...
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    What year and make of vehicle, and what do you mean by "lose" the brakes? A guess without any vehicle info would be the ABS activating.
  • jezejeze Posts: 15
    Hey, It is a 96 Mazda Millenia S. When i mean lose the breaks is that i can depress the pedal but nothing happens. It's like the pads get stuck where they are. So no matter how much force is on the pedal nothing happens. And then if I stop braking and repress the brakes it works.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    this one sounds serious enough to me. if you are flying after hitting the bump, you aren't going to lose much forward speed because there is nothing for the tires to grip, thus no way the brakes can slow you down by reducing the spins of the tires.

    if you are staying on the ground with any wheels and bang!-- just like that, the wheels are all rolling free again with your foot on the pedal, that's darned serious. that's a failure in the hydraulics, and I would bet you are losing a lot of fluid and won't have any brakes soon. my gut feeling is a cracked pipe or hose, or when your suspension compresses you are pinching off a hose in front, and you need to have the system inspected now.

    I would go so far as to advise I would have my car TOWED to a mechanic if this was happening to me, I would not drive it.
  • jezejeze Posts: 15
    let me explain the problem better. I don't know if this is what you are assuming but let me make sure. I've noticed this only on one road(but it's happened like 3 or 4 times. The road starts off OK but at the end there is a series of scattered 6 to 8 inch bumps(basically the pavement is warped badly) not potholes but bumps and then a stop sign. What usually happens is that I will turn a corner onto the road and start braking in order to meet the crosswalk, I'll go over the large bumps one then the next then the next while braking (like going over a series of railroad tracks) but then the brakes lock and I find myself gliding into a crosswalk. That is when I take my foot of the brakes reapply them and pray.

    I hope this helps more. I am assuming this is what you mean. I didn't think it was that big a problem but since it only happend on this obviously bad road. But I definitely wanted to get it checked out since my g/f drives it and I know she won't probably be as calm as me.. But I didn't want to take it somewhere and let them begin ther fishing (for my money). so I wanted to go armed and i usually get great advice here

    I had my brakes recently done (2 months ago). thanks for all the help so far.
  • Double wow! Were it me, I'd be getting the car to the place that did the brake job so recently, and get them on the problem. If they understand the potential liability in the situation, they should be eager to examine and diagnose the vehicle.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    and you should get on the appropriate candidates and let them know that you need their assurances that they will vote to put that road right right now, or they don't get your vote.

    a seasick pavement like that is better in gravel if they have gone over it and over it and not fixed it.

    sounds to me like a bunch of loaded trucks use it, too, and this one is an example of where you DON'T use blacktop, but concrete, because the trucks braking will push the blacktop and the roadbed beneath it and keep making waves.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    The purpose of drilled or slotted rotors is to vent the gases which the pads emit when their temp goes way up under prolonged or repeated heavy braking, . These gases prevent the pads from making solid contact with the rotors, reducing friction and extending stopping distance. As Mr Shiftright said, drilled or slotted rotors are not likely to make any difference with the type of driving you do unless you deliver the mail very fast.
  • I have a '99 Venture. Both rear cylinders are leaking slowly. They are just damp and the brake dust is sticking to the surface. On the passenger side brake dust(contaminated with fluid) has accumulated at the top of the shoe. As a result there is some discoloration of the top 1/3 of the shoe. The shoes have plenty of friction material left on them. Do I need to change them due to the discoloration from the contaminated brake dust? There has been no leakage of actual fluid onto the shoes.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    first, stop the cylinder pistons leaking by rebuilding the wheel cylinders or getting new ones. flush all the old brake fluid out and replace with new until the bleed fluid comes out clear, because rust particle wear on the cylinders caused the issues in the first place. in fact, shoot, flush the old fluid out first, then put the new cylinders on.

    also make sure the axle seals are tight, I have had axle seals on the right rear give out twice on one car due to heavy sanding of the roadways in winter and resultant dirt splashing up there all year from puddles.

    then take the shoes off and clean them aggressively in a running stream of solvent. dry thoroughly, lube at the right points, and reinstall and adjust.

    if the wheels are still grabbing, replace the shoes, they're done.
  • Great advice from swschrad on the brake cylinders. You might want to consider swapping out the shoes on those wheels, simply as a precautionary measure. Rear shoes are usually cheap enough to warrant replacing if not doing so might result in having to go back in to replace them shortly afterward. This is just a thought, aimed at making your life more difficult! Ha! (:o]
  • craniumcranium Posts: 40
    Ok everyone, I need your help again.
    History. 1989 buick Century, 3.3 liter. This is my extra car, and sometimes it sits a while. I'll be using it for my winter car this year, and I'm trying to work out all the bugs.

    Here's the problem. After this car goes undriven for 2-3 or more days, I have a problem with the right rear brake locking up. I'll drive the car, and when I first start out, the right rear brake will lock up almost immediatly when I use the brakes. It has no problems releasing, just when applying pressure. After a few stops, it gets less, and less, and then I finally have no problems. If I drive this car daily, I have no problems at all, but if it sits 2-3 days, it starts all over again. I also noticed, that if I drive the car in reverse for about 100 yards, gently applying the brake, this resolves the problem.

    Now, what could it be? I believe the brakes, and hardware are pretty new (less than 5k miles). Could something be in the line? I was thinking that the short rubber brake hose could be collapsing inside, but then it wouldnt release quickly right?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
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