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Understanding brake shudder: causes and solutions after installing new rotors and pads

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Brake-Pad-Replacement

After having new front brakes installed, you notice a vibration in the steering wheel whenever you apply the brakes. After spending money on new brake pads and rotors, it’s frustrating to discover a problem that wasn’t present before.

All right, let’s analyze the root causes. We will focus on the reasons why new brakes generate vibrations or shudder that wasn’t there previously, and we’ll briefly discuss other potential sources of trembling as well.

WHAT IS BRAKE SHUDDER?

When you apply the brakes, you may feel a tremor through the wheel. Problems with the braking discs cause brake tremors.

In particular, when Disc Thickness Variation (DTV) has occurred in the braking discs. Uneven rotor wear causes brake discs to wear out at different rates.

The brake shudder is a vibration caused by the brake pads making contact with flat places on the rotor’s surface due to uneven wear. Disc degeneration due to unequal wear can have many causes.

For instance, if new brake pads have been installed but the calipers aren’t working, the rotors haven’t been mounted correctly, or the bedding-in process hasn’t been carried out, the brakes will not function as intended.

brake pedal

Why brake shudder after replacing new rotors and pads

Before we get into the details, though, we can say that the reason will be either:

The brake rotor should be checked first. The brake rotor receives an oil coating before being packaged in the factory to protect it against rust. This oil must be removed from the brake rotor before it can be installed in your car.

Braking performance will suffer and steering wheel shaking can occur if this remaining oil is not removed.

When installing new brake rotors and pads, take extra precautions to avoid getting any grease or oil on them.

Before and after installing new brakes, wipe out the brake rotor with brake cleaner and a clean rag or shop towel.

We like to clean the rotor on both sides before reinstalling it in the car, verifying the fit of the caliper and brake pads, and then putting the wheel back on.

The brake rotor should be checked first. The brake rotor receives an oil coating before being packaged in the factory to protect it against rust. This oil must be removed from the brake rotor before it can be installed in your car.

Braking performance will suffer and steering wheel shaking can occur if this remaining oil is not removed.

When installing new brake rotors and pads, take extra precautions to avoid getting any grease or oil on them.

Before and after installing new brakes, wipe out the brake rotor with brake cleaner and a clean rag or shop towel.

We like to clean the rotor on both sides before reinstalling it in the car, verifying the fit of the caliper and brake pads, and then putting the wheel back on.

While not universal, replacing the brake rotors on many 4x4s and older models does include removing the wheel bearings.

Make sure the wheel bearings are properly seated and adjusted after reinstallation, either by yourself or at a repair shop.

To ensure that the wheel bearings are properly adjusted, place your hands at 12 and 6 o’clock on the wheel and rock it back and forth using oppositely directed pushes and pulls. The wheel bearing has not been properly set if there is a clunk or any movement.

The brake rotor’s mounting hub or flange must be spotless before the replacement may be installed. The flange is prone to rust buildup. The rust gets disturbed when the old rotor is taken off.

The hub and rotor’s machined faces won’t line up properly if they aren’t thoroughly cleaned. The hub can be polished to a smooth finish with a wire brush or a bit of emery paper.

Uneven pressure from the brake pedal will be transferred to the caliper if the new brake pads are not seated properly.

There will be a decrease in stopping power and the vehicle may shake as a result. When brake pads are improperly installed in the caliper, they vibrate.

When replacing the brake pads, make sure your hands are clean at all times. Make that there is no uneven pressure applying the pads to the rotor.

The brakes may not work or the vehicle may pull to one side when braking if the caliper fails.

When the bolts aren’t tight, the caliper and pad will tremble when braking, and that motion will be transmitted to the steering wheel.

brake discs
To avoid mishaps, it is wise to double-check your progress periodically. Make sure the nuts on the brake calipers are securely fastened before reinstalling the wheels. It’s extremely risky to drive with a brake caliper bolt that has come free. The brakes may not work or the vehicle may pull to one side when braking if the caliper fails. When the bolts aren’t tight, the caliper and pad will tremble when braking, and that motion will be transmitted to the steering wheel. The rotor will overheat if the braking calipers or pads become stuck. As the temperature rises, hotspots and vibrations may appear in your vehicle. The slides of the brake calipers should be removed, cleaned, and lubricated prior to installation. When installing brake pads, it is equally important to grease the pad’s contact surfaces with the caliper. Pads won’t stick if you lubricate them. Sticking brake pads not only reduces vehicle performance and increases fuel consumption, but they also cause brake shaking. If the brake hoses aren’t checked when brakes are replaced or repaired, brake fluid may leak. If the brake pedal is depressed and fluid leaks out or air gets in, the brakes will shake because the pads will bounce off the rotor. When switching out pads or rotors, it is standard procedure to release any air in the lines. Changing your brake pads and rotors is not going to “all of a sudden” cause your vehicle to tremble because of worn suspension components. It’s possible that the jack’s location while lifting the vehicle caused damage, or that the problem was already there but is more apparent after the brakes were changed. If the brakes are ruled out as the source of the brake shudder, then the suspension components control arm bushes, ball joints, tie rod ends, and struts should be checked.
brake check

Where can I start looking for the cause of the brake vibration?

The first step is always to identify the problem’s origin. If you’re experiencing vibrations in the steering wheel, it’s probably time to check the front rotors. A problem with the rear brake rotors is typically the cause of a shuddering pulse felt in the brake pedal.

A brake shudder can also be caused by an uneven mounting surface on the hub’s face.

Over time, the hub face might accumulate rust and scale deposits, creating an uneven surface on which to attach the disc. If this is the case, sand the surface down with WD40 and clean it thoroughly until the rust and scale are gone.

This should be standard procedure when installing new brake discs to avoid future brake shudder.

How to fix brake shudder

DTV (disc thickness variation) occurs when a brake disc has flat sections that need to be machined out or the disc needs to be changed altogether.

Misfunctioning brake calipers are another potential source of brake shudder. Brake discs can wear unevenly if the caliper is pushing the pad against the disc even while the brakes aren’t being used. If this is the case, the caliper likely has frozen slide pins.

You may easily regrease them with some Ceramic High-Performance Synthetic Lubricant after removing them. The calipers may need to be rebuilt or replaced if the problem extends beyond the slide pins.

It is crucial to bed in new brake pads correctly after installation. If you put brand-new brakes through severe stress without giving them time to “bed in,” the result could be uneven wear caused by thermal shock.

If, however, the brake pads you’ve chosen feature our patented Blue Titanium Stripe, you won’t need to go through the bedding-in procedure. Your wheel nuts are another minor but important safety feature.

Rotor run out can be avoided by using a quality torque wrench to tighten the wheel nuts in an even fashion and to the manufacturer’s specifications.

You should always make sure your brakes are in excellent shape. They are, after all, the sole impediment to your progress.

How to Avoid Brake Shudder

Brakes generate a lot of heat because of the friction they create when stopping a vehicle. Friction generates heat, and that heat eventually destroys the brake system. However, reckless driving, extensive use, or subpar materials can all contribute to brakes getting too hot.

Brake wear is increased for drivers that race from light to light and brake abruptly. Even though brakes can cool down between uses and are designed to resist high temperatures, excessive use causes brake fade, which manifests as a mushy brake pedal.

Reduced brake pressure due to brake fade makes it harder to stop your vehicle. Overusing the front brakes can lead to the same results, with the rotors becoming scorched and emitting an unpleasant odor.

Low-quality brake pads can’t withstand the heat generated by friction as well as higher-quality ones can, thus they wear out faster. Scuff marks on rotors might be an indication of low-quality brake pads.

Contact a Brake Professional

Shuddering when applying the brakes indicates a problem with either the brakes or the suspension. Don’t put off getting your car checked out after experiencing any of these warning symptoms. If brake judder gets worse, you and other drivers on the road are put in risk.

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