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Thread: When brakes attack...

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Posts: 1-6 of 6
2009-07-29 20:12:00
When brakes attack...
This is actually on my daily-driver Mazda, but still a pertinent story:

A month ago I was visiting family in Pennsylvania, and the brakes started to make a horrendous noise. I was far from home (500 miles or so) and my tools, so I pulled into a Mazda dealer, who was kind enough to put the car on the rack and discover that my driver's front side brake pads were shot. They told me the rotors still mic'd out to being OK and were smooth enough to keep using, but they wanted $135 to replace just the pads, so I drove to my lodgings and a friend and I replaced the pads. The next day the wife and I drove home without incident.

Fast forward to last week, when I was expecting my father and little sister for a visit. The brakes started pulsing, and the steering cookie started shimmying, and it got worse a few days running. It was speed related so I figured it was a sure sign of warped rotors. There was no noise and it only happened under braking, so I ruled out cookie bearings, tires, etc.

I picked up cheap rotors from Autozone and did the swap. The right side went fine. The left side, not so much. The rotor just wouldn't come off. I broke a bolt off in the threaded hole they give you to separate it from the hub, after which I went at it with a 3-pound short handled sledge.

This was the result:

I'm used to rust flakes on the floor when doing brake work, but not this much. Where did it come from you ask?

Why, it came from the rotor, of course! I don't know if these were original (car has 115k miles on it) or replacements, but they were done. So done in fact that when I was beating on it with the hammer, I did this:

It actually split most of the way around the rotor hat. Imagine that, but still stuck to the hub; I went for broke at that point and got it off, but it was a chore.

To top it off, my faithful cheap torque wrench gave up as well. I torqued the lug nuts, test drove it, no problem. Then when I, my wife, father, and sister were headed for a movie, the car started to thump rhythmically. Went home to discover that the lug nuts had loosened, sure sign they weren't torqued correctly. I was glad we made it home without trouble.

It was an eventful day. Cliff notes: once in a while, make sure your rotors aren't seized, and don't always blindly trust your tools.
2009-07-29 20:35:35
I bet it feels good to have all that stuff fixed.
Have you priced Brembo blanks for your Mazda at Import Replacement Parts ? These can be had very cheap. I've had too many bad experiences with Auto store rotors warped from the get-go.
2009-07-29 21:36:21
Those prices aren't bad, I wonder what the shipping costs?

I've actually had good luck with rotors from Autozone/Advance/KOI. The next set I get for the S13 though, I'm going to take the time to paint the rotor hats with caliper paint so they don't rust.
2009-07-30 00:27:38
Dont buy cheap rotors, not worth the trouble. I got brembos for mine just for the security and piece of mind. Weird stuff can happen, glad nothing bad happened to you or your family.
2009-07-30 02:37:36
Nice work with the old 3lb hammer there, Kent.
2009-07-30 04:34:53
Just call me Thor. You know my motto - if it ain't broke yet, you ain't hittin' it hard enough.

Greg, we should talk soon, it's been a long long time.
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