Saturn VUE Brakes and Rotors

rob111rob111 Member Posts: 7
Our 2003 Saturn Vue is at the dealer right now
and we are told that we must replace the front
disc rotors because they are out of round. The
rotors were previously replaced right after
purchase, then replaced again in 2004,
resurfaced in 2005, and started giving vibration
early this year but only at highway speed did we
notice it. First to eliminate the driver from
the equation, she has driven several vehicles for
at least 250K without a single rotor or brake issue.

When I discuss the problem with the dealer's service manager, which is not that the rotors are out of round, (that is the result of the problem) the dealer appears to not have much in the way of corporate research or procedures to eliminate the problem. It is as if there is no reason for them to invest time and energy to resolve what may be a marginal design where material substitutions
have occured somewhere down the product line, or there may be a maintenance point or adjustment that was not monitored at the factory when producing the vehicles.

We discussed that perhaps the ratio of front to
back braking force was not correct and that
could have contributed to having the front
rotors doing more than their designed share of
the braking and thereby producing repeated out
of round rotors. I asked them to clarify whether
one or both rotors were out of round and I was
told that they both were out of round, so that
would seem to eliminate a single caliper issue
in the front causing one rotor to go out of round. And it appears to me that if two rotors are warping equally and at the same time, it is either a design issue or an abnormal usage issue. I have the benefit of being married to the driver of the vehicle so I know it is not a usage issue.
So I went ahead and had the dealer do the rear brakes adjustment in the event that this might resolve the root problem. (I was told that braking in reverse will not fully adjust them and in order to adjust them properly it must be done manually by a technician). This I was very suprised at. Anyone have any expert advice here?

I then asked if perhaps the wrong pad material
was installed at the factory which could be the
root problem, the dealer checked and reported
that the pad material installed on the vehicle is the correct pads material for the vehicle which was installed at the factory because they had not been changed at this point 37,500 Miles on the 2003 vehicle...

So I ask you for assistance in helping to
determine the root cause of the problem. At this
point I do not want to invest >$500 in new
rotors only to have them out of round in a year
or two.

I have two options as I see it:
1. Buy aftermarket drilled/scored lifetime
warranty rotors and pads and install them.

ex: ake_id=1621&ad=google

2. Fix the root cause problem and have the
dealer replace the rotors with OEM equipment.

What could I be missing? I have not read the service manual for this vehicle yet as it cost >$300 to purchase. Any input or similar experience?

One point that is painful, I had to bring up the discussion points with the dealer. All they were interested was in changing out the rotors and moving on to the next job. I think that they need to be more keenly aware that every problem is their problem and if they can eliminate the real problems, their customers will be longer lived and more brand happy.



  • rob111rob111 Member Posts: 7
    Uggh just back from the dealer....

    In addition when picking my vehicle back up this afternoon after servicing the rear brakes, the service manager "Rick" repeatedly told me "that his truck has to have the brakes serviced every 18 months, that is just the way I drive" he reported. He also stated that no Saturn will go years without rotor replacement. He furthered his argument stating that the rotors being put on cars today are inferior (with respect to size and weight) that the rotors of old, the ones that he was able to have turned several times before being unable to use them.

    As an American and a product designer and manufacturer, I have a problem with with the attitude of the service department that accepts whatever the status quo for the experiences of the few (I mean by the experience of the few; the ideas of Rick the service manager and others who think that the new rotors are crap and they have to be changed far more frequently that the rotors of the past). I think that Saturn as a company need to have the service departments challenge the factory where there are problem items, ie things that impact the customer's opinion and perspective of Saturn so that you get a much more proactive feedback path, right now it looks like they just live with whatever is produced and figure out a way to get through the day. If this problem with our 2003 Saturn Vue is to benefit Saturn, then Saturn will have to fully understand the problem, not just change the parts and move on. Saturn will be changing a whole lot of parts if this is the prevailing service attitude. If the problem is the front to back braking load ratio, and there is no current measurement point for the service personnel and/or the factory aside from "it was designed with specific aperatures and therefore cannot deviate from the design intent", then I think that Saturn needs to have or design a procedure or sensor to accomodate this. ABS will do this but only under very limited operating conditions and I dont think there is any useful diagnostic output for the service personnel to troubleshoot braking issues. If the problem is something else (I repeat myself, my wife has driven hundreds of thousands of mile with no rotor problems from any vehicle except this one; 1993 Honda Accord, 1997 Chevy Venture) then my Saturn dealer did not find the problem, someone else will have to step up and take their place when it comes to getting it done right.

    With all that said, my current plan is to install performance parts on the vehicle and see if they can tolerate the vehicle better than the OEM parts.

    I think that Saturn might be missing an opportunity by not offering performance parts to replace at least the rotors.

    My wife is looking at purchasing a new vehicle in the fall of 2008, and right now she is not thinking Saturn. As a diehard buy American brand man, Saturn is making it hard for me to sway the purchase decision to Saturn
  • macjrmacjr Member Posts: 1
    Rob, I have an 04 Vue with similar mileage. I am also experiencing a problem with my brakes. When I first start out (cold condition) it's fine. As things heat up I get a bad shimmy when I apply my brakes. I haven't taken it in yet but I won't be taking it to a dealer for service. They cost too much. Plus, as you have found out, they (the company) are never at fault. Also if you are looking to buy again soon and want to buy american, you may or may not know this. According to a friend of mine who used to be a service writer for Saturn, the Chevy Equinox IS the vue and the Cobalt is the Ion and the Malibu is, I think, the L200. Keep that in mind.
    I think it interesting that you found a problem I've never heard of. Brakes going out of round on their own. I am not a heavy breaker and I always yell at my wife for doing that. She has her own car and doesn't drive mine. I've changed her brakes three times since she bought it new in 2000 but never a rotor problem. She only has about 52K mi. on her car as she works close to home.
    I am going to do more research on this rotor problem myself.
  • donn2390donn2390 Member Posts: 23
    I have been a mechanic for many years, however I have never worked on a view. I just purchased a new 2007, so I will soon have Vue experience. With having said that, I will say, I have never seen rotors go out of round on their own. Usually it is caused by improper tightening of the lug nuts. If you use an impact wrench improperly, you can warp them in a hurry. I have never heard of warping rotors any other way.
    I do suspect the early Saturns had a problem with their rotors, as there is a brake guy on ebay selling drilled rotors and special pads to improve their efficiency. I would start with making sure no one ever puts on my wheels with an impact wrench. You can use an impact wrench if you know what you're doing, but too many shlock places don't have a clue how to do it properly. If you need to replace the rotors, go get the good cross drilled rotors. The drilled rotors will reduce the heat. Heat is the enemy of efficient braking.
  • 442dude442dude Member Posts: 373
    While I am not a mechanic, I will agree with this statement. I think the older rotors were more forgiving as they were made of more metal than the newer ones. I don't think rotor problems are specific to Saturn or GM, I believe that newer vehicles from all manufacturers are more prone to brake rotor problems with the push to reduce weight and costs.
  • mrbizness1mrbizness1 Member Posts: 93
    Many parts stores sell 2 different specs. of rotors for the same vehicle. the thinner ones are considered throw aways after one set of pads are worn out and cannot be cut. My daughter drives a Maxima and has warped rotors after 12k miles of driving with ceramic pads. From my experience rotors will warp from hard braking on any vehicle.
  • nomoresaturnnomoresaturn Member Posts: 1
    After owning a '94 wagon, and the '99 limited edition SL2, I bought a new 2003 Vue V4 AWD. It has been a complete disappointment, from the transmission, to the gas mileage, to the loose and rattling trim, to the BRAKES. they are complete crap, and I have replaced front rotors and pads twice, and am in today for the third time at only 111K. I drive "light" on my brakes, and they still warp it seems almost without use. I have tried saturn parts, 1st time, AC/Delco second time, and are going aftermarket again this time. Those of us who own 2003's should have a support group. I will never ever consider buying a Saturn again. If this one wasn't paid for, I'd get rid of it.the only good thing to say is that with Blizzak snow tires on it, the vehicle is killer on snow and ice which is important to me here in Michigan. I have spent more on the 2003 than I did in total on either of the earlier models, which are both on the road still and doing fine. good luck
  • rob111rob111 Member Posts: 7
    Since installing the drilled(not all the way through) /slotted(not all the way through) rotors that have a lifetime warranty for $175/pair (I have to keep the old rotors around in order to return these if need be), I have had no issues. They were a bit noisy to start but have quieted down since then. I figure that must be how they brake in....ha. I expect to never change rotors on this vehicle again.

    It only took about an hour and a half to change them out myself and no special tools were required. But if you havent changed pads on a caliper before, remember to expand the caliper while it is on the rotor using a large screwdriver or lug wrench like piece of metal. You need to make the pistons go back into the caliper so the assembly will fit around the pads and the rotor when you put it back on.

  • davidkaydavidkay Member Posts: 2
    I bought the cheapest rotors on the market after my 2006 Vue's rotors warped in 20,000 miles. For $50 (for the pair) and the cheapest pads ($20) I fixed hte problem. How long will it last? Longer than the originals I would guess!
  • davidkaydavidkay Member Posts: 2
    Superheat the rotors...they will warp. I drive in Washington D.C. stop-and-go, 10 mph to 80 mph back t 10mph regularly. Heat an old 33 RPM record and what does it do? I NEVER warped a rotor in my life until I got to D.C.! Now, I warp them a lot. I suggest the people out there learn to change them on their own...such an easy thing to do!
  • rob111rob111 Member Posts: 7
    Hi Don;

    I guess if I were going from 10-80-10 mph, I might have more problems that I have.
    You might want to lay off that Starbucks in the morning....

  • cottiescotcottiescot Member Posts: 7
    Hi everyone,

    I own a 2004 VUE REDLINE I am the only driver and I have 106k on my VUE. I have replaced the brakes about every 11k. The first set of rotors were replaced at 5k. The dealership claims its my driving style, yet, I read here everyone else is having this problem. Please Please Complain to Saturn. I think a recall is in order here. Here is my letter to Saturn:

    Dear Saturn Customer Care,

    I am writing you this letter to describe the utter disgust I have with your Company. I was treated unacceptably, and potentially my life was put in danger by the utter negligence that was show by Saturn of Elmhurst over the past 4 visits to the dealership. I am also writing this letter because I feel that there is a some major defects on this vehicle that have been regularly pointed out since its in service Date (12/13/2004).

    At the time this occurred my VUE had about 85k miles on it. I have been complaining for the last 15k miles of a wobbly growling noise from my car. I mentioned it to the Service writer Todd, It sounded exactly like the noise at 72k mark. He told me that my front wheel bearing were replaced at that time and he would take a look at the stopped by on a Saturday to have them look at it, and I was told that they were unable to look at the car. I brought the car in for a oil change, and I had a list of other things, that needed to be checked this was around 98k. It was upon this visit that I was told they could not reproduce the noise. I had a few other concerns and I was told they didn’t have time to look at them I would have to drop the car off, and rent a car at my own cost. I also asked that a Transmission service be performed and it was not.

    Irritated I returned at 99k and waited for the car. Having been brushed off once, I insisted that I speak with the Technician who was performing as service. When go into the car, and we drove for approximately 3 miles in a mixed loop around the dealership, it was during the test drive that the technician told me that it was tire noise, not bearings. I argued with him saying that diagnosis is in correct and I would not accept it. When we returned to the dealership, the writer asked the Tech for the diagnosis, and he said it was merely tire noise, I was then told that it was tire noise only and there was nothing else wrong with the vehicle and it was time to think about trading it in. I was appalled, and humiliated. I was treated as if I was crazy for insisting there was something wrong with my car.

    Because I knew there was some severe mechanical problems with the car, I drove it directly to the Tire shop and had them replace 4 tires prematurely, to prove that there was a larger problem at hand. I had a similar experience at 72k in which I was told the warped rotor was tire noise, it was also at that point I was told I needed to purchase tires before the car would be looked at. It ended up being rotors then at the 72k example.

    On the way home from the tire place, I called Todd from SOE and indicated that there was new tires and the noise still existed. I requested that my car be looked at first thing in the morning.

    I was greeted the next morning at the entrance to the drive bay and I was told that they wouldn’t look at my car today and I was already told there was nothing wrong with it, and I wanted to be looked I needed to talk to Todd.

    I returned the following day, this time parking my car in the visitor lot and I approached Kevin (Service Manager) He knew exactly who I was, and he told me that He indicated to Todd that SOE would replace my wheel bearings, but if that wasn’t the cause of the noise, he will would bill me instead of the Extended warranty company, after looking at the car 4 times, they found nothing wrong. He further told me if I felt I wasn’t being served to my satisfaction, that I could take the car to another dealership Kevin was very insistent that I goto Saturn of Glenview. This is totally unacceptable behavior for any professional. I told Kevin, I never claimed that the bearings were faulty, I claimed there was a noise. And Todd had been the person to perform the diagnosis. I also mentioned that I just spent 750 dollars on new tire per SOE recommendation to solve the problem and it did nothing but lighten my wallet. Kevin seemed un-phased and brushed me off. SOE was aware that I was butting up against my 100k warranty and it appeared as if there goal was for these repairs to come out of my pocket.

    I have never had such a unacceptable experience in my life with any Car Dealer. I took my car to SOE because its where I purchased it, and I felt dealership loyalty was key. I worked only 5 mins from Saturn of Libertyville, and I called them on my lunch break and they agreed to take a look at the car.

    I stopped off while at lunch and took a drive with a Tech. We didn’t even get out of the parking lot when he confirmed that one if not both Wheel bearings were faulty. The tech stated, I could tell from driving it across the parking lot, and then confirmed that he was almost certain, but needed to take the car about to be 100% positive. SOL arranged for me to get a rental, and within a couple of hours it was confirmed at least one bearing was bad, the part was ordered, and they needed to keep the car.

    The next day, I got a phone call to let me know that the other front wheel bearing needed to be replaced but since it had already been done; an adjuster was needed to verify the claim. I found this odd, since according to my 72k mile paperwork, both bearing had been done not just one. It took Saturn of Libertyville a couple of days to work out the logistics of getting the repair paid for, and the extended warranty company required a auditor to evaluate the car. The extended warranty concurred that the wheel bearings on both the front sides needed replacement. In addition to the bearings being faulty, I was told that I had only 5% of my brakes left, and I needed new front rotors. Saturn of Libertyville indicated they were unsafe, and cutting the rotors would be unsafe, yet I had the rotors cut by SOE on at least 2 other occasions. See below under brake section for details, but the Rotors, not the pads, were replaced at 80k miles. This is unacceptable wear, for ANY vehicle.

    I gave Saturn of Elmhurst 4 attempts to fix this automobile, and the way I was treated, was unacceptable, unprofessional and blatantly RUDE. They sent me off in an automobile with faulty wheel bearings, and brakes with less than 5% of pad left. It makes me wonder what other maintenance on my car was not repaired correctly through out its life.

    Below please find a description of other problems related to maintenance of my VUE.

    I purchased my 2004 Saturn VUE Redline December 13, 2004 from Saturn of Elmhurst (SOE). This is my second Saturn and the ownership of this VUE has been more costly than I
  • unhappyvueunhappyvue Member Posts: 5
    To my VueBlues "Brothers" -
    Just experienced a new problem with my 2004 FWD V6 Vue - weird thunk when pressing on the brakes. This occurs when first press the brake, and is not continual. But is experienced everytime the brake is pressed. Currently have 96k on car, and have replaced brakes 1x (obviously I am a light braker), and tires 1x.

    BTW - also experience a variety of other thunks and rattles, which seems standard in the Vue!

    Anyone experience this brake issue? At the moment the car is at the mechanic's being checked.
  • jpintartjpintart Member Posts: 1
    I have 3 saturn vues, do my own brakes . Each have 90,000 plus miles, haven't placed rotors or drums . they have been turned twice. If fronts are serviced without doing the rears, front wont last as long. bottom line,$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
  • swromeo58swromeo58 Member Posts: 1
    edited May 2011
    I have a persisting issue with my brakes that started back at 87K miles. It began as a light vibration and shaking throughout the steering wheel, and has turned into a problem I can't seem to fix myself or with the use of Tire Kingdom "Professionals". Rather not deal with any dealership (if any exist).

    So far I've:

    Had Tire Kingdom service the front disk brakes and change and serviced the rear drums and shoes, SHAKING RETURNED after 400 miles (and never really went away fully, told to allow break-in).
    after some troubleshooting I pin pointed the rear brakes (never fully ruled out the front brakes, but decided to attack the rear drums first) to be faulty due to the simple fact that the intense shaking is present while pulling on the E-brake (which goes mechanically tied into the rear brake assembly). IS THIS RATIONAL THINKING???? WHAT COULD I BE MISSING?? So, I replaced the rear drums and shoes with stock (non-high performance) parts. SHAKING still present and getting worse.

    Read this in:
    Saturn Vue Noise, Rattles and Vibration
    #12 of 107 Re: The right front suspension rattle [waynen] by windigo
    Mar 29, 2007 (7:58 pm)
    Replying to: waynen (Mar 06, 2007 9:59 am)
    Look at your brake caliper. They become loose on the pins. They have to change pins, put a special grease then you go!

    Checking on this today. Hoping it will fix me up.
  • 442dude442dude Member Posts: 373
    Replace your front discs (don't just have them machined which is likely what the repair place did) & pads with non-gm parts and preferably a name that you might recognize like Raybestos.

    The caliper pins will cause an audible rattle but they should not make the car shake on braking. Be sure to replenish the caliper pin grease when you do the front pads. If they appear to be worn, replace them but its not too often that you have to. There's a little rubber bushing on 2 of the pins as well, make sure its there and that its in good shape.
  • tenpinarmtenpinarm Member Posts: 8
    I'm having a problem removing the rear rotors on an '08 Vue. Any suggestions?
  • geno59geno59 Member Posts: 23

    I installed new front brakes installed and was told the rotors only needed to be resurfaced, but when I go over 55 mph and push brakes the steering wheel goes from side. In my opinion I need new rotors. Does anyone have an opinion as to,what I should do?

  • droberts5droberts5 Member Posts: 4
    I have had the same issues so I looked further into the brakes and found that the brake lines needed replaces and have had no further problems hope this helps all in any way and good luck
  • droberts5droberts5 Member Posts: 4
    The rubber lines not all the brake lines though
  • droberts5droberts5 Member Posts: 4
    Because this adds pressure through the callipers not letting them recess back and forth correctly causing friction on the roters and there forth causing warped and premature roter warping and brake pad ware I had to deal with this issue for 4 months b4 I found the issues good luck with all
  • geno59geno59 Member Posts: 23

    @droberts5 said:
    Because this adds pressure through the callipers not letting them recess back and forth correctly causing friction on the roters and there forth causing warped and premature roter warping and brake pad ware I had to deal with this issue for 4 months b4 I found the issues good luck with all

    I don't understand how this can be so? Do you really mean rubber brake line is blocked or collapsing upon itself? Firestone told me if I slammed the breaks while at high speed this could of warped my 80000mile rotors. So, i plan on replacing the rotors and possibly the pads too. My saturn only does this when I go above 55 mph and press on the breaks. It breaks perfectly below that speed.

  • droberts5droberts5 Member Posts: 4
    Collapsing because of dirt rust and calcium buildup will cause the rubber line to hold pressure on the callipers and there for cause warping on the roters lift up the car and put in drive watck the wheels if one is kind of dragging then you know it is a rubber brake line
  • geno59geno59 Member Posts: 23

    In my opinion if you have around 80,000 to 100,000 miles on vehicle and need to change brakes you should also replace rotors, calipers and caliper pins.

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