November, 17, 2007 AT 5:41 PM

1999 VW new body jetta, vr6, standard, with about 116k miles. About 2 years ago the brake rotors and pads were replaced by my mechanic b/c there was grooving on the rotors and a noticeable pulsing in the steering wheel when the brakes were applied. About 5 months later, the same symptoms appeared.

Befuddled, my mechanic thought perhaps defective rotors were installed. Genuine VW parts were not used. Because he was very skeptical, and had never seen rotors fail that quickly, he looked for any other brake related problems. They changed a brake line, and one other thing I cannot remember, but had explained to me that every possible thing that could be changed/fixed was the 2nd time they changed the rotors and pads again. He questioned my braking style. However, my argument was why would I not need rotors for the first 7 years of my car's driving history with me, have them replaced and then have my braking style make the rotors fail about 6 months later. Driver error didn't seem to make sense.

So. Here I am now with an appt. To change the rotors again, this time using genuine VW rotors. I am feeling like this is a bandaid approach and have fears that even with the VW rotors, in about 1/2 a yr. I will end up with the same pulsating when the brakes are applied. The pulsating always starts out small and barely noticeable, as it progressively gets worse and worse. Someone suggested going to a new mechanic but I have been loyal to this shop b/c they are good guys and I have never had trust issues with them. The first time I paid for a full repair. The second time they only charged me for the parts. I do not know what they plan to do for this 3rd rotor replacement as far as the bill but I would be nervous to start somewhere new and the dealer's hourly charges are outrageous.

Any thoughts on what is going on with my braking system? Thanks! Kim


6 Answers



November, 17, 2007 AT 7:12 PM

Kim, Brake systems work on hydralic pressure. When you press the brake pedal you are not pressing in the brakes--so to speak-- You are pressing a plunger that pushes brake fluid through your brake lines at very high pressures. This pressure pushes a piston inside of your brake caliper. That piston is the thing that actually squeezes the brake pads together against your rotor. When you release this plunger, the pressure is released, and is suppose to let that piston release the brake pads. If this pressure is not totaly released the brake pads will drag on the rotor--thus-- wearing them out! Think of it like this--Your plunging the toilet--push the plunger--the pressure of the water pushes the " stuff" down the toilet--release the plunger and everything is back to normal.
You say the mechanic changed everything.I DON'T THINK SO. Did he or she change the brake caliper? I'm almost positive, rotors are not to blame for this problem. It has something to do with the pressure inside your brake lines or it's a caliper thats not releasing. Pulsing in the steering wheel will be caused by a bad caliper too.



November, 17, 2007 AT 7:22 PM

Thanks for the reply! Well, I was excited to read that you suggested it could be the calipers b/c I didn't remember that part ringing a bell. Unfortunately, I just went back to double check my repair bills and indeed, the most recent rotor change included a caliper change for the front brakes. The hose was also replaced at that time. And the previous time, the was a line item of " brake hardware" when the rotors were changed.

Any other thoughts now that I confirmed that the calipers were changed upon the second time yet here I am again with the same exact problem?



November, 17, 2007 AT 8:25 PM

How many rotors are being replaced? 2 or 4
Do you have anti-lock brakes? Does the car pull to one side or the other when you are pressing on the pedal?
Well, I'm almost afraid to ask this question but here it goes. When you drive around, and the driving situation does not require the brake to be pressed, where is your braking foot? Do you brake with your left or right foot? Don't get mad at me. I'm just trying to help.
Was the master cylinder changed? How about the brake booster? Was the brake fluid completely changed? If so look for a " brake bleeding" charge on your bill. When you change the brake fluid you must bleed the brakes.



November, 17, 2007 AT 8:56 PM

I also wonder if you are " Riding the Brake". One foot on the gas and the other on the brake pedal. It doesnt take much to heat the rotor's and warp them. Also, do you have aftermarket wheels? Lot's of people put bigger wheels on there vehicles but do not put bigger aftermarket brakes. Bigger wheels mean you need bigger brakes.



November, 18, 2007 AT 8:20 AM

I do not ride the brakes nor do I use my left foot for the brake. It is also a standard so my left foot is used exclusively for the clutch pedal. I understand your asking for that would make for an easy answer, I wish it were driver error for that could be remedied.

The first time all 4 rotors were replaced. The second time only the fronts. No clue which need to be replaced this time but the pulsating is severe.

I do have anti-lock brakes.

The car doesn't pull to one side when brakes are applied.

My brake fluid was changed at the dealer last spring. There was no line item saying that they were bleed but isn't that always included in changing the fluid?

No, master cylinder and brake booster have not been changed. What would be signs that those needed to be replaced? I feel like I am looking for a needle in a haystack with this ongoing, now very expensive problem that isn't getting fixed.

Thanks for the ideas. I am really hoping I can get this squared away.



November, 19, 2007 AT 2:25 AM

Please read my first reply. Try to understand what happens when you apply the brakes. The master cylinder is the thing that has the plunger. Remember, the plunger is the thing-- that-- presses the brake fluid through the brake lines--that--pushes the piston --that--presses the brake pads up against the rotors. If this plunger is not releasing 100% all the way, pressure stays in the brake lines, thus not releasing the rotor. It's just like riding around with your foot on the brake pedal.I must also say your mechanic should know this. I don't ever suggest this (because I cannot see the actual mechanical problem) but I would consider a new mechanic. He or she may be taking advantage of you. Are you thinking of fixing this yourself? If not you should take the car to the dealer. I know that is a little pricey but they will have all the equiptment and tools to fix this problem. If the problem lies in your anti-lock braking system there is usually a history of this that a dealer mechanic will know about because all he or she work on is VW's Changing the brake fluid can mean several things. Was the fluid changed in the reservour or the entire system? Changing the brake fluid in the res. Does not require the system to be blead, however completely draining and changing the brake fluid requires the system to blead or bleeded. I forgot to ask, were all 4 calipers changed? If so and the brake fluid that was used to bleed the brakes was old or the same fluid that was physicaly in your car that's a big no no! That fluid will have moisture in it and cause a kind of gell to form in your fluid. This could cause a brake caliper piston to seize up thus wearing out the rotors. But that is a long shot.I also must add that changing all 4 calipers (if this is the case) is a sign of serious brake problems. Your mechanic should also know this!
Your brake booster is the thing that makes it easy to press in the brakes. It works in conjunction with the master cylinder.

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