Skip to main content

Why isn’t my repair shop taking my brake problem seriously?

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Whenever I apply the brakes when driving my 2002 Honda minivan, the steering wheel vibrates. The higher the speed when braking, the greater the vibration. I have taken the car to two different garages and they both say that the brakes are fine and that there is nothing wrong. How can this be so? – Don

I'd look for a different shop! A vibration of the steering wheel under braking usually means a brake rotor or drum that has become warped or out of round.

This is normally caused by heat created by extended hard braking, but can also be related to the rotor being immersed in water when hot, such as driving through a deep puddle.

Story continues below advertisement

Regardless of the cause, when the brakes are applied and the calipers squeeze the pads against the out-of-round rotor, the resulting vibration us transferred to the steering system. As you can imagine, the speed the brake rotor is turning determines the frequency of the vibration.

To picture what is going on, think of a bicycle wheel and how the brakes work – when you pull on the brake handle, the little black pads squeeze against the edge of the wheel and the resulting friction slows the bike – creating heat in the process. If the wheel is not perfectly round or there is a bump on the rim, you will feel the vibration.

It is possible your vibration is only slight and does not manifest itself clearly when the rotors are cold. In such cases, a cursory inspection or short road test would not show the problem. The best test is to use a micrometer caliper to determine the run-out of the rotor.

Please send your automotive maintenance and repair questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter