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Buick LeSabre Brake Problems

111jag111jag Posts: 1
I just changed the rear brakes and rotors. I first used a C-Clamp to compress the piston but then realized you have to turn them (I used needle nose pliers). I was able to turn them a couple of times, put them back on, depressed the brake, then turned it a couple of times more. They turned fairly easily, so I don't think I stripped the thread (if that's how the calipers are nowadays). I did both sides. Now, as before, I just drive around the block, press the brakes a couple of times and the rotors are extremely hot (to touch). Is this normal? Or should I buy new calipers? The fronts are the same, very hot. They are not wearing excessively by any means, but the previous rotors were warped, I think. The car is a 2000 Buick LeSabre with 80,000 km on it.
Thanks in advance,


  • ampeteampete Posts: 2
    This one has me baffled. I have a 95' Buick lesabre with 330,000 miles. The ABS light goes off & on when I hit a bump in the road. Took it to a mechanic and he said the wheel sensor is going bad but the brakes are ok. Now when I run my air conditioner, my brakes will sometimes get too hard to push down and I can barely stop. They are fine when I don't have the air on. Any answers for this one??
  • I have 1997 Buick Lesabre and need help to find and replace
    wheel sensor. Please advise how to locate sensor. Also Engine Light staying 'ON' sometimes goes away but will come back 'ON' Please advise how to resolve. :confuse:
  • I recently purchased a 1997 LeSabre custom with only 50k miles. A LOW LEVEL flood car... The ABS light is on. Any ideas where to start...Thanks...
  • The brake discs on my 2003 Lesabre have a lot of rust on them because I hardly drove the car for 2 years. It's on a carport. The past year drove it about one day every other week. The brakes feel like they work fine but they squeak all the time the car is in motion. Does it sound like I might need new brakes? Or maybe they just need to be lubed and cleaned up, and the fluid changed? :confuse:
  • dewc3dewc3 Posts: 35
    My brakes on my 97 lasabre make all kind of squeaky noises and when I take the wheel off and push the piston back on the calipers and then apply the brake and go down the road, all the squeaking stops untill like 2 -3 days later then it starts all over again, I have went over this same process at leats 30 times so does it sound like my calipers are worn because the brakes (front) are like brand new thru all the 30 times I have done this...Any help i would appreciate :mad:
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    >they squeak all the time the car is in motion.

    How many miles are on the brake pads and how has the car been used? Highway driving? Town driving with lots of hard stops?

    The brake pads (originals) have a metal tab that is supposed to start rubbing on the rotor a while before the brakes wear out. THis is on the outside pad. It makes a soft, strange scraping sound. Sometimes the inner pads wear more than the outer. They don't have a warning soundmaker.

    The rust didn't hurt the rotors because the car was driven occasionally and never sat for months without driving. The rust would rub off the first time the brakes are applied.

    The fluid doesn't have anything to do with noise or brake wear. It should be changed every few years by bleeding out the cruddy stuff near the wheel end of the lines. A competent mechanic shop will do that.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    Your noise may be something besides brakes. But assuming it's brakes if the pads are not worn down, it's most likely just the type of pads they are and they are vibrating against the rotor and caliper when they apply lightly rubbing against the rotor as you drive. Do they squeak while they are applied for a stop?

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • dewc3dewc3 Posts: 35
    Yes my brakes squeal when the brakes are applied coming to a stop and when I have to use them to slow down...I took the wheel off and the brakes are as new as ever and the little tab is not even close to the caliper. But when i push the piston back on caliper and then reapply the brakes then they dont squeal for a few days then its back to squealing so im wondering if I have a bad caliper
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    Your problem is beyond my pay grade. But I'll ask a couple of questions. Did you put the replacement pads on yourself? Were they semimetalic or ceramic? Were they the inexpensive version? Did you use a rubbery coating on the back of the metal plate for the pad that dries before you assemble the brakes--the coating can stop some vibration that the pads might do. But under heavy braking they shouldn't have a squeal.

    Your calipers wouldn't cause that. It's something about the contact of the pads and the rotors.

    I know the replacement pads I put on my car had the front and back edges beveled at a 45 degree angle that was to keep them quieter... That's why I was tactfully asking if your pads might have been very inexpensive and didn't have that when they should. Or they might be too hard.

    Are you having any other symptoms that might make you think the calipers are a problem? Dragging? Pulling? Overheating? Pulsating?

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • dewc3dewc3 Posts: 35
    yes, the brake pads were the least expensive that you can buy in the semi-metallic kind. No, I did not this time put the coating on the back of the brake pads. yes, my brakes also had the bevelled edges on them also. The only reason I think that it could be my calipers is the brakes pulsate upon stopping like that calipers are bad, so plz let me know what you think...I did put the brakes on myself as I always do adn never had a problem like this...I did have a baretta that had the same problem one time and when I put new calipers on it after trying everyhting, the problem went away but since they cost so much for this car, I want to be sure before i do go buy them :shades:
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    I can't hear the noise you are hearing so I can't distinguish between the sound of pads lightly rubbing on the rotor (normal) as you drive. With light application is usually when I'd hear the vibration of metal backing plates moving against their metal holders in the caliper.

    You'll have to decide what you're hearing. I'd suggest having someone drive the car slowlypast you in a parking lot to listen for the noise from outside.

    Calipers were only $30 each at AdvanceAuto recently for my 98. I broke a bleeder screw and just went ahead and replaced both rather than having the bleeder dug out or doing it myself with screw extractors.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • lady48lady48 Posts: 2
    Please help a lady understand. The GM mechanic gave my car a pre-inspection check up. He told me my rotors are rusty and must be replaced or when my inspection comes he will not pass it.It has not been 12,000 miles since he had me replace them. This has been going on three consecutive years. My question is, why do rusty rotors need replaced? I live in a snow belt, but come on water + metal = oxidation.
    Maybe I am a stupid lady, but how do I know he is truthful?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    I would find a new mechanic. What state are you in that requires inspections where the inspecting facility can benefit from being over critical and selling more parts and work?

    If the rotors aren't rusted where the brake pads touch them after you've driven the car, there's no problem. If they are rusted, why is he selling you defective rotors that rust year after year would be my question to him.

    Find yourself an honest location. Maybe you can use a dealership.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • lady48lady48 Posts: 2
    I am in Pennsylvania. It is a dealership!!!!!
    The thing is he never shows me, he told me that it can not pass inspection with rusty rotors and he would submit it as failed.
    He told me he could "cover" the cost of the pads because they are under warranty for under 12,000 miles. But he will not pass
    me for the rotors. I asked him if there was something wrong with my car and why would that happen and he said, "I don't know". Last year, and the
    previous year they told me they would fail it for the same reasons, and I asked about the pads both of the times...I asked if the rotors are so bad and
    must be replaced, then the pads must be a wreck too, right? AND both times he told me the pads were fine. I feel he has me by the short hairs, ouch!!!
    These are only the things he said I need for the inspection!!!!
    And, I told him I forgot to fill the front tire with air, it is a bit low...he said he did not check THAT. And he never said a word about the windshield wiper he sold me 6 months ago that tore!!!
    Brakes are on sale there now.
    I was told by other people that recently went there, and they keep having to replace rotors too. But if we don't he charges us 16 dollars for the failure.
  • Is there any difference in proceedure, between a 2002 and a 1997 Buick, when changing front brake pads?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    The 97 has allen wrench recesses for the bolts holding the calipers serving as the slides. The 02 has normal bolt heads. Much easier. I can't recall how, but the rubber bushing for the slides is better. The 97's are internal to the rotor which rusts inward and compresses the rubber tighter against the bolts where they should be able to slide. The ears on the 97 need to be cleaned of rust to restore clearances.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • I bought my Lesabre new in 2005. I love the car, but have had brake noises since 11,000 miles. Now I've done work on cars when I was younger, and I also worked in an engineering department, but these guys have been telling me for miles and miles that the noise is because of the material on the brakes -- that it is a common sound. So I have been driving with a constant scraping sound mostly from the driver's side. It sounds loud. I've had the car back at the dealership several times for this noise. I finally went to my old mechanic, and he pulled the wheels apart and told me my pads were to the metal. I never would have known if I hadn't brought it in -- they always scrape. The passenger side pad fell apart when he touched it. The dealership installed new rotors last February (2008). The car is at 24973 miles. (Yes -- I brought it to my mechanic before I hit 25,000.) I'm livid about these circumstances -- poor service and suspecting my brakes could do something crazy while driving at 55MPH.

    Any comments on this shhooossh shhooossh shhooossh brake noise when driving and the shhheeeeeeeeeeesh when the brakes are applied? :mad:
  • Very interesting! My son has an 05 LeSabre he inherited from his grandad. The car was brand new and made the scraping noises at 10,000 miles. I have since replaced the brakes twice, two sets of tires and now the front wheel bearing and hub need to be replaced! My daughter also has a Buick Regal that has brake issues. Is this a Buick problem??
  • I just got my car back today. Had my regular mechanic fix it. He's a magician. The brakes feel like heaven. It's as if I haven't had brakes at all for thousands and thousands of miles. Herb Chambers' service stinks. I gues that may be half the problem. Stay away from dealer services, I'd say...
  • This car has been garaged for a few years and run maybe 1-2 times a year for a mile or so but obviously not enough.

    My guess is the Emergency Brake mechanism is not totally releasing on this wheel but I'm not sure where to start with repairs.

    Is the problem at the wheel and if so won't I have problems pulling the drum off?

    Just trying to get a handle on where to start with this problem. Thanks.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    What car do you have? What year is it?

    If it has drum brakes on the rear, were the emergency brakes set while it was parked? (A no no.)

    If so I'd try pulling on the cables next to the brake to try ot get the cable inside the outer housing to move a little or the linkage inside to move.

    Otherwise you're going to have to take the wheel off and try to get the drum off of that side. It may take some moderate force to get the drum to move over the brake shoes if the emergency is stuck on. Or it may be really difficult or next to impossible.

    If it can be moved backwards that may release some pressure on the brake shoes.
    Emergency brakes tend to not work as well in reverse as forward; the forward movement helps swedge the secondary shoe against the drum for more braking.

    If it's a disc rear brake, just take the wheel off and see what's happening.

    Any chance it is a wheel bearing? You'll know that as soon as the jack the car up and rotate the wheel if it's making that much of a noise.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • mhibbardmhibbard Posts: 1
    I am guessing that the 98' LeSabre calipers use an allen wrench. I am having a devil of a time finding the correct Allen wrench to remove it. Any suggestions? :cry:
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    3/8 inch large allen wrench or you can buy sockets that have that size allen wrench as their end. That's probably easier to work with. It may take a good bit of force to break loose the bolts. Be sure to check the inside of the ears on the calipers--take out the rubber boots that the bolts slide inside. The rust may force the rubber smaller and tighter around the slider bolts. If you have a brake cylinder hone, that can be used to break the rust away from the inside of the ears.

    It's a standard for GMs of those years. Earlier used a torx head socket (1993, e.g.) Later uses standard sockets.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • mkansarimkansari Posts: 5
    3/8in allen wrench that has 5 sides and can be bought at auto zone or other auto part shop. Also it needs extra force so please wear good gloves as not to hit/injure your hands. Good is not that difficult when you have right tools. :)
  • norse81norse81 Posts: 4
    I am having a problem compressing the rear brake piston on my 2005 lesabre. You indicate the piston has to be turned and you used a needlenose pliers. How much force is necessary to turn the piston, how many turns and in which direction.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    edited June 2010
    Do NOT use a C-clamp to compress the rear brake piston.

    It is made to be rotated to retract. I bought a small cube like "tool" at one of the auto box stores. It fits a 3/8 in. socket handle and has points in different formats on different sides to "grab" the recess on the face of the piston.

    You CAN turn the piston with the ends of a shorter needle nose pliers using them to press on the face of the piston.

    FORCING the piston in with a C-clamp will DAMAGE the operating parts that are the emergency brake. When I checked, rebuilt calipers for the rear were $129 at Autozone, so I don't want to damage one of those.

    Also be sure to leave the recesses in the face of the piston vertical so the points on the back of the brake pads go into the recess.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • mkansarimkansari Posts: 5
    I used C-clamp with a wooden piece on piston side and never had problem. I have seen this mechanic doing this way. Also google 'how to change disc brakes'.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,516
    edited June 2010
    to quote the factory service manual from GM (Helm):

    Page 5-67 for 2003 FSM

    "Notice: When using a large C-clamp to compress a caliper piston into a caliper bore of a caliper equipped with an integral parking brake mechanism, do not exceed more than 1 mm (0.039 in) of piston travel. Exceeding this amount of piston travel will cause damage to the internal adjusting mechanism and/or the integral park brake mechanism.

    1. Compress the piston until resistance is felt, but no more than 1 mm of piston travel.


    The factory technicians should know how to repair it.

    Good luck with your rear adjusters or parking brake mechanism. I hope they are still working correctly for you.

    Myself, I'll use the factory-approved procedure, which I spoke about in the previous post.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • norse81norse81 Posts: 4
    There is no doubt in my mind that a C-clamp will not work to compress the rear pistons on the 2000-2005 LeSabres. The C-clamp works fine for the front brakes but the rear pistons must be rotated clockwise until clearance over the pads is obtained. The special tool as you described will work much better than a needle nose pliers or the small vise grip that I used.
  • My 82 year old mom has a 2002 Le Sabre. I drove it to put gas in it this morning and noticed that when braking it had plenty of pedal at first but then it would eventually bottom out almost at the end of each stopping event. I checked the fluid level and it is ok. Does this sound like a master cylinder problem to you?
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