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Car problems can be frustrating, especially when it comes to issues with the brakes. One common problem that many drivers experience is a shaking steering wheel when braking hard. This can be alarming and unsafe, but the good news is that it’s often caused by warped brake rotors, which can be repaired or replaced. In this article, we will walk you through the steps to check for warped rotors and show you how to fix them yourself.
Checking the Front End
Before diving into the brake job, it’s important to first check the front end of your car for any potential issues. Sometimes, a wobbling sensation when braking can be caused by problems in the front end rather than the brake rotors. To check this, jack up the front end of your car and grab the tire at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. If there is any play or movement, it could indicate a front end problem. Repeat the same test at the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions. If there is no play, then the front end is likely solid and the issue is with the brake rotors.
Inspecting the Brake Rotors
To inspect the brake rotors, you will need to remove the wheel and the brake caliper. Using a 14mm socket, unbolt the bottom bolt of the caliper and pull it to the side. Remove the two brake pads and measure the rotor. While you can feel if the rotors are warped, it’s recommended to use a measuring device for accuracy. A good option is an outside caliper, which can be purchased at a hardware store for around $19. Measure the rotor at different parts, turning it and measuring different widths. If you find that there is more play at certain points, it indicates that the rotors are warped and need to be replaced.
Replacing the Brake Rotors
To replace the brake rotors, you will need to remove the entire brake caliper assembly. Turn the wheel to access it better and remove the bolts holding the caliper bracket in place. Once the caliper assembly is off, use a hammer to tap the old rotor from the backside until it comes off. Clean the new rotors with brake cleaner to remove any residue, then install them by placing them onto the hub. Line up the caliper bracket and secure it with the bolts. Make sure to tighten the bolts properly.
Now it’s time to install the brake pads. There are various types of brake pads available, but it’s recommended to choose high-quality ones for optimal performance. Apply some brake and caliper grease to the edges of the pads to prevent noise. Insert the pads into the caliper, one on each side.
The next step is to compress the caliper pistons back into place. While some people use pliers, it’s better to use a brake caliper retractor kit to avoid potential damage to the ABS system or brake master cylinder. These kits are affordable and can be purchased for around $19 on Amazon. Simply insert the device between the brake pads and turn the handle to slowly squeeze the calipers back into place. Once the pistons are flush with the top, remove the tool.
Now, slide the caliper back onto the rotor and secure it with the bolt. Repeat the same steps for the other side, as brake jobs should always be done in pairs to ensure even braking. Finally, straighten the wheel back up, put the wheel back on, and tighten the lug nuts properly.
With this simple DIY fix, you can save money on a mechanic and get your car back to smooth braking. No more shaking steering wheels! Now, you can confidently handle hard braking without any worries.
If your car shakes when you brake, the most common cause is warped brake rotors. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can check for warped rotors and replace them yourself. Remember to always inspect the front end first to rule out any other potential issues. When replacing the rotors, use high-quality brake pads and a brake caliper retractor kit for a smooth and safe repair experience. With these steps, you can fix the shaking steering wheel and enjoy a smooth and comfortable ride.