Why Car Brakes Shudder and How to Fix It

Why Car Brakes Shudder and How to Fix It

If you have had a vehicle for a significant amount of time, you have either been required or should have been advised to do routine maintenance on your brakes. The braking system’s components degrade with usage, which may sometimes result in a shaking motion that can be felt via the brake pedal or the steering wheel when applying pressure to the brake pedal.

What causes a vehicle’s brakes to shudder, and how can this problem be fixed? The vibration you hear while using the brakes on your car is driven by uneven wear on the brake pads or the rotor or by the building of deposits on the hub, which causes the rotor to sit unevenly. Seats can be readily cleaned with a wire brush, while rotors may be salvageable depending on their condition. Uneven brake pads need replacement, but it may be possible to salvage the rotors.

Let’s look at what causes this and the solutions to the problem.

What’s with the Shaking?

The power you provide to your brake pedal causes fluid to be pushed through your braking system. This occurs whenever you press down on your brake pedal. Because of this strain, the brakes on your vehicle will eventually get compressed against the rotor. When the brake pads squeeze the rotor, friction is generated, which enables the car to slow down in a controlled and uniform manner.
Because scale, dirt, and other sorts of buildup may cause the rotors not to be seated flat on the hub, the rotors will sit at an angle and receive unequal pressure from the pads if this occurs.

Over time, the brake pads and all components eventually wear out. The heat and the grinding pressure from the places both put significant stress on the rotor, contributing to the overall stress level. Naturally, the rotor will wear down, but this process may also induce warping, resulting in a trembling brake. Before we discuss how to address them, we will begin by discussing how to check each component and determine which one is the issue’s root.

The Four Tires… Which of the Two Brake Sets Is to Blame for the Problem?

The first thing you need to do is figure out where the trembling is coming from. There is no need to worry since it is unnecessary to disassemble each wheel assembly to check each component.

All that is required of you is to feel the shake. If it is coming via your steering wheel, the issue is most likely caused by your front brakes. If you only feel it in the brake pedal, the problem is likely caused by your vehicle’s back brakes. You may now go to the next step, determining its component.

Problem #1: Dirty Hubs

The hubs being dirty is one of the reasons for the brake shudder. However, it’s rare. Nevertheless, it is essential to verify them since this is the most straightforward solution. In addition to that, they need to be cleaned sometimes.

The hub is revealed once the wheels, calipers, and rotors have been removed from the wheel. To assist with the routine maintenance of the device, it is recommended that you clean this component each time you remove one of these components. Use a wire brush to remove any scale, rust, or debris that may have accumulated.

Problem #2: Brake Pads

The brake pads’ lifespan is estimated to be somewhere between 25,000 and 65,000 miles, although they will eventually need to be replaced. They are designed to wear down more quickly than the rotors. The material of the brake pad must be softer than that of the rotors to prevent the rotors from wearing out too rapidly and creating an exceedingly hazardous scenario. It is beneficial to one’s safety but something one should pay attention to for an excessively extended period.

Several factors might contribute to uneven wear on brake pads, including faulty calipers, frozen guide pins, and damaged and clogged brake lines. As soon as the wear starts to be inconsistent, they begin to put unequal pressure on the rotor, which causes a shuddering or shaking action to be transmitted throughout the remainder of the braking system and suitable to your brake pedal. Locating and fixing that issue is critical to ensuring your vehicle’s longevity and safety.

When pressure is applied to brakes worn in an uneven pattern, the brake caliper may cause the brakes to rock back and forth. One likely reason you feel the shivers is the swaying back and forth. If you have uneven wear, you can immediately determine it from a visual check.

When you need to change the brake pads on your car, replacing them all at once is unnecessary. Nevertheless, regardless of which axle you are working on, it is strongly recommended that you replace both pads. You will end up saving money in the long run as a result of this since it will assist in maintaining even wear.

Following that, let’s have a look at the rotors.

Problem #3: Rotors of the Brakes

As was said before, the brake rotors are subjected to a significant amount of stress, and their lifespan is estimated to be between 30,000 and 75,000 miles. If you were to contact the surface with your hands when it was hot enough to produce burns, it would be because of the steady pressure from the pads as they wore down the feeling they were pressing against. The rotors suffer wear and tear as a result of these constant pressures.

Warping may occur in thinner rotors when subjected to the heat above and pressure, causing them to transform from flat, even disks into bulges and recessions along their surface. When the brake pads come into touch with this surface, they are moved back and forth inside the caliper, which causes the shudder to be sent back into the braking system.

When looking at a brake rotor with the naked eye, it might be difficult to tell whether it has been deformed. The appropriate machinery is required in this stage because it only takes a few thousandths of an inch to generate a detectable tremor. The rotors should be spun on a brake lathe to get a smooth and equal surface.

An essential point to remember when using a brake lathe to turn rotors is that there is a minimum acceptable thickness for rotors. Your repair shop or technician can only legally turn down your rotors for you if they are thick enough. Even if it were legal, you should not engage in such risky behavior since it poses a significant threat to public safety.

Things That You Are Going to Require Regardless of the Nature of the Issue

  • Fluid for the brakes. Because you must bleed the brakes, you must have juice on hand.
  • Synthetic oil to lubricate the guiding pins. Because the grease must withstand greater temperatures, you should look for one designed expressly for this use.
  • Grease that is based on graphite. This particular sort of lubricant will aid with the sliding of your pads.
  • A breaker bar is included with a ratchet and socket set.
  • Clamp or brake piston compressor, abbreviated as C-clamp.
  • Turning wrench. Your vehicle’s lug nuts and caliper bolts need you to do this.

It’s Time to Get to Work

Since you have identified the general region where the issue occurs, you can now use what you know about the various forms of wear to zero in on the specific cause. This instruction will apply to both your car’s front and rear brakes since, unless you have an older vehicle, the front and back brakes are disks.


When working on your car, safety should always be your priority.

  • You should ask a buddy to hang out with you if you will be utilizing a jack in case anything goes wrong. If you need to take the rotors in for inspection, having them on hand is helpful.
  • Put the brake on for an emergency. Thanks to this safety feature, your car won’t slide while being raised,
  • Stop spinning your wheels. If you don’t have suitable chocks, you may aid in securing the wheels using bricks or anything similar.
  • Always be sure you utilize the jack stands! Never depend on your jack alone to support your car since it is probable that you may shack your vehicle while rotating the bolts, so always be sure to do things incorrectly.
  • Before lifting the tires off the ground, release the lug nuts on the wheels if you use a socket and wrench.

The Work Gets Underway

Finish removing your lug nuts after determining that your car can be securely lifted and secured. When they are removed, you can take off your tire and place it to the side.

Take off the Calibrator.

  1. Take off the nuts that hold the caliper in place at the back of the caliper. Because they are often quite challenging to remove, you may need additional force from a breaking bar.
  2. Take the caliper off the brake pads and lift it. Sometimes, These are snug, but you only need to jiggle it until it falls loose.
  3. Put a lock on the caliper! You must carry out these steps. To keep the caliper out of the way, you may use wire or zip ties to fasten it. If you allow the caliper to drop or hang, you will almost certainly cause damage to the flexible brake line, and you will be required to replace it.
  4. If the brake pads have worn irregularly up to this point, you should examine the caliper. Every time you work on your brakes, you should inspect and lubricate the guide pins to ensure your calipers will last as long as possible.

Take the brake pads off and give them a once over.

  1. Pull each of the brake pads out individually using the lever. Be careful to avoid becoming confused about whose side they are on. Even though they seem to be the same thing, they are not.
  2. Taking off the two bolts located in the rear will allow you to remove the brake pad bracket. There may be another set of difficult bolts to loosen, so have your breaking bar ready.
  3. Perform a visual inspection of the brakes. This will provide insight into what could be causing the problem.
  • Even wear indicates that the brake pads are not the issue’s source. It is necessary to inspect your rotor to check for warping or misalignment.
  • Wear that is not uniform throughout the whole length of the pad, resulting in a wedge shape: It is possible that one of the caliper guide pins is seizing or that the pillows were not placed correctly. It’s possible that dirt, breakage, or a lack of oil in the pins are to blame for this issue. Thoroughly clean the nails, check them for any signs of damage, and replace them with brand-new ones if you notice any gouging or deep scratches. When reinstalling, a substantial quantity of grease must be used.
  • Again, this might be attributed to your guide pins since the outside pad wears down more quickly.
  • More wear may be seen on the inner pad, and the caliper does not return to its original position when the brake is released. Because of this, continual pressure and friction wear down the place and the rotor and increase the probability that damage will occur. Your caliper will need urgent maintenance or replacement, whatever you choose to do.

Please take off the rotor and give it a look.

  1. Removing the rotor is a simple process once all other components have been moved out of the way. To remove it, slip it off the hub.
  2. If you need access to a brake turning lathe and micrometer, it may be challenging to determine the condition of your rotor and its thickness. Finding a business that will test and spin them for you is best.
  3. If your rotors are worn down to the point that they cannot be spun, you should replace them. This will address the problem and eliminate the need for any more diagnostics.
  4. Turn the rotors if they have an appropriate thickness and the ability to do so. You will save some money, and the previously worn and uneven surface will be replaced with a new, flat one. Remember that the rotors are more likely to deform under stress if thinner. The thinner they are, the better.

Purge the central area.

  1. At this stage, the hub of your vehicle is uncovered. Remove the scale, rust, and dirt from the outside with a wire brush.
  2. Try using WD40 or PB Blaster to assist in clearing any stains that are particularly difficult to remove.
  3. Using a wire wheel drill attachment to completely clean the surface is a good idea if you want to help avoid rust from occurring in the future. After that, wipe the surface off with some acetone or alcohol. After this has had time to dry, a layer of zinc paint can be applied to provide protection against rust that will last significantly longer.

What should I do now?

Your brake pads have been changed, and their thickness is consistent throughout. The surface of your rotors is smooth, polished, and, most importantly, even across. You’ve got everything dialed in with your calipers, and you can’t wait to get back behind the wheel.

So, let’s start putting things back where they belong! All you need to do is follow the removal process backward, but there are a few specific steps that you have to do to complete it correctly.

Changing out the Pads, as well as the Rotor and the Caliper Bracket

  1. It’s time to change the rotor. It goes back on with the same ease that it came off with.
  2. It’s possible that new brake clips arrived with your new brakes. In such a case, you should eliminate the ones you already have. In such cases, clean the old clips very carefully. After that, add a graphite-based lubricant to the areas of the clips that will be used for sliding the pads.
  3. Replace the bracket that holds the brake pad caliper. Apply red Loctite to the threads to secure them. Never apply anti-seize to the nuts that hold the brakes! You want these objects to remain in the exact location they are in right now. Put some torque on the bolts by consulting the torque requirements for your car.
  4. Slip them into position after ensuring the new brake pads are compatible with the old ones. If you put the inner place in the part of the outer place, it will not operate correctly, so be sure you have it in the correct order.

The Calibrator Will Be Replaced

  1. This is when things start to take on a new appearance. First, you must pop your vehicle’s hood and unscrew the cap on the brake fluid reservoir.
  2. If using a C-clamp, place an old brake pad or a piece of wood over the caliper’s piston.
  3. After positioning the new pad on the previous one, fasten the C-clamp to the caliper’s rear. Start pulling the clamp closer together until the piston has moved back.
  4. Attach the tool if you use the Brake Piston Compressor, and turn the handle clockwise until the piston has been retracted.
  5. After covering the bolts with Loctite, place them into the bracket and ensure they are positioned above the brake pads. Adjust the torque on these bolts to meet their manufacturer’s recommendations.

The process of bleeding the brakes

This must not be skipped at any cost! The pressure in the braking system will decrease if air enters the system. If the tire pressure drops, you won’t have any brakes.

  1. Check to see that the reservoir for the braking fluid is complete up to the “Full” line. The system will draw in air to compensate if you let it go too low. This will not only reverse the work you have already done bleeding the brakes, but it will also generate more work for you since you will need to bleed all four brake lines.
  2. You must utilize a brake bleeding kit for the solo task if you work on the vehicle yourself. Follow the instructions included with the kit, ensuring that the braking fluid reservoir is always full. These may be as simple as handles with a trigger that move fluid through the system, or they can be a gravity-based system that, although driving at a more gradual pace, is relatively easy to operate.
  3. Put one end of a transparent hose measuring 14 inches in diameter over the end of the bleeder screw, and place the other end of the hose in a container to collect the braking fluid. The fluid used in brakes is a hazardous solvent. You want to avoid going on the ground and spreading out.
  4. If you have a buddy who can assist you, have them push on the brake while you loosen the screw that controls the bleeder. They need to let you know when the pedal is fully depressed so that you may tighten the bleeder screw and prevent more air from being drawn into the system. Repeat this step as many times as necessary until there are no visible air bubbles in the line while the brake is applied.
  5. Repeating pumping the brakes while the engine is off will ensure they are in a solid position. First things first, start the car and then do it again. Next, please give it a little spin around the block to see how it handles. Pray that your brakes won’t be spongy or that they won’t completely fail. If such is the case, you will need to start again.

The Issue Is Handled!

You are now armed with the information necessary to understand why automobile brakes shake and how to make essential repairs to them. The procedure is simple, and you won’t need any specialized equipment. Remember that these components need regular maintenance and inspections to ensure that your car lasts as long as possible and that you remain safe while driving it. However, this does not imply that you cannot save money by doing the task alone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *