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Vibrating or Pulsing Brakes? Diagnose Brake Problems on Your Car or Truck

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  1. step : No instructions needed (Mar 16 2020 9:38AM)
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Let's test these brakes.

Hey friends, while I've got your attention, make sure you leave a comment, like, subscribe, ring that bell. Let's get back to what you came here to see. So we took the vehicle for a road test, and we felt that it had a brake pulsation. Something that's important to pay attention to on a brake pulsation is where you feel it? Do you feel it in the steering wheel, like we did? Or you feel it in your butt? Like that, all right? When you're driving, you step on the brakes, especially once the brakes get hot. That's how you're gonna diagnose where to start looking. If you feel it in the butt, like that, more than likely it's from the rear. You don't see anything in the steering wheel. If you're braking, you feel your steering wheel going like this, going kinda crazy, that means more than likely the issue's in the front. We had the steering wheel issue, so let's go ahead and start in the front.

So we took the wheels off the car, and I want to show you a couple different issues that you might have with your brakes. Generally speaking, if you have a brake pulsation, you're gonna see something going on with the rotor braking surface. In this case, it's very clear what's going on. We have an overheating issue. More than likely, it's due to a sticking caliper piston or maybe even a slider. That would be very common. And there are other issues that could happen, such as maybe the pad sticking in the bracket or something like that. So if you see something that looks like this, that's gonna be a raised area, especially once the rotor gets hot from driving, and it's gonna cause a brake pulsation. If we give this a little turn, I'll show you the backside. We have a little bit different of a situation, but it's about the same. Generally speaking, you can see like these little, like, groovy looking areas, almost like hot spot lines that just go straight. I don't know if you can see them or not as I turn it. Just keep turning, turning, turning. All those little lines...that's gonna cause a buildup. And that's actually creating hot spots. So every time that you step on the brakes on this while it's moving, that's gonna be a raised area, and it's gonna get hotter and hotter and hotter in those areas, and you're gonna have a brake pulsation.

Let's move along to another wheel, and I'll show you some other things to look at. If you happen to notice that your flex hose is collapsed or damaged in any way, you'd wanna replace it. Any restriction with this flex hose can cause a braking issue.

So we've moved along to another rotor so I can show you a different issue that may or may not occur. If you see all these little dimples along the rotor, these are actually rust pits. What happens is after your vehicle's been sitting for a long period of time, it'll accumulate moisture along the whole braking surface. As that moisture sits there for a while, it makes its way into the rotor porous materials, because it's only metal, and it starts making these little pits. And then, of course, once you drive the vehicle, it'll take off, you know, the outer portion of the rust, and it'll just kinda like leave all these pits, which are very visible. Something like this can, and will, cause a brake pulsation and/or a noise.

Moving along, if you see a rotor that looks like this, all gouged up and looks like it's just been metal to metal, this is also gonna cause a major braking issue. You're gonna hear a grinding noise and potentially a pulsation as well. The grinding noise would be what you'd hear first, though, of course. This is very bad.

When you see a rotor that looks like that I just showed you, more than likely this is what the pad's gonna look like, metal to metal. This is no good. Why would this happen? Well, there's a couple possible reasons. This isn't the caliper for that vehicle, but it is a caliper. And this is a caliper piston right here. When you step on the brake, fluid gets forced through here and pushes out this piston, which will, in turn, squeeze the pads up against your braking surface. If this piston is frozen, it's gonna be able to squeeze in, but it's not gonna be able to retract, and it's gonna keep constant pressure with those pads on that rotor and cause this issue. There are other issues that could cause that as well. Caliper sliders, these need to be able to function just as they are right here. If you try to move your slider, and it doesn't move at all, then that's gonna cause this to get stuck and heat up against the rotor as well. Lastly, if you have your brake pads and you can't move them inside the brackets, this should move around freely, that's gonna cause the same issue as well. Your pads need to be able to move around freely inside the bracket.

Friends, with all that said, I hope I helped you find your brake issue. As always, if you're replacing a rotor, replace the pads. If you're replacing the pads, replace the rotor. Do them at the same time, easy peasy. Thanks.

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