Q: Brakes shake the car, what makes that happen?

asked by on October 29, 2015

The steering wheel on my 2007 Camry XLE (V6 3.5L, automatic, 70k miles) shakes when I brake going 50+ MPH. Toyota has twice turned the rotors and changed brake pads at no cost to me (even outside of the warranty period) and it fixes the problem for a short time, then it comes back. I'm tired of going to the dealer. How do I get this fixed for good?

I can understand the frustration with this problem and to assist with fixing the concern, it is best to understand why we see the issue re-occurring. Disc brake rotors that have been resurfaced are more susceptible to being overheated. When you put pressure on the brake pedal and begin to apply the brakes, the surface of the brake pad mates with the surface of the brake rotor to slow down the vehicle. When this happens, heat is generated and some of the material from the brake pad is transferred to the rotor. Areas of the resurfaced rotor can become more heated than other areas, called hotspots, and cause more material from the brake pad to adhere to the rotor. This creates an uneven surface for the brake pad to grab the rotor and in turn transmits a pulsation to the steering wheel. The solution to your vehicle’s problem is pretty straight forward, have a certified technician replace the front disc brake rotors and disc brake pads. In addition to replacing these parts, it’s also important to perform the repair properly, such as removing any rust and debris from the surface of the hub that meets the disc brake rotor. Any rust and debris here can prevent the two surfaces from mating evenly and transmit vibrations to the steering wheel upon braking. Properly lubricated calipers slide bolts will allow the caliper to freely move as needed without binding which can lead to unnecessary vibrations. Using a torque wrench to tighten each lug nut to factory specifications and in the proper tightening sequence will keep the rotors evenly secured between the hub and the wheel. Over torqued lug nuts can distort the position of the rotor which, in turn, can transmit vibrations.

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