Why Does My Brake Pedal Vibrate, Pulsate When Braking?
If you feel vibration when braking, the most likely cause is a warped brake disc rotor. If your brake pedal vibrates when you apply the pedal, you’ll want to have your brakes inspected to determine the extent of the problem. Do you require new brake pads or brake rotors? Or will machining your brake rotors fix the vibration?
Here’s how it works. When you press the brake pedal, hydraulic pressure runs through your brake system and provides pressure to your brake calipers. Thise calipers then squeeze your brake pads against the rotor to slow your vehicle to a stop. If your brake rotors are worn unevenly, this will result in a vibrating brake pedal.
This could be due to normal use or a defect from the manufacturer. In either case, the same effect will results – a vibration felt in your braking.
For a braking system to be free of pulsating and vibration, there should be no variation in the rotors thickness. Just a few thousandths of an inch off and a vibrating brake pedal will be felt. In extreme cases you may feel the steering wheel vibrate and the vehicle may pull to one side as the brakes are applied.
Other Causes of Brake Pedal Vibration
A rotor that is not uniform all around will present a brake vibration, shaking or pulsation. In the winter months, snow can build up on the inside of the wheels and also cause noticeable vibration when braking in the pedal and steering wheel of your vehicle. A rust build up or debris may also cause minor vibrations in the vehicle.
One cause of uneven rotor wear is brake faulty brake calipers. A “sticky” or seized brake caliper requires service or replacement. When this happens, each time you apply the brakes the brake caliper does not fully release the pressure applied to the brake pads and creates constant friction against the rotors. This constant pressure on your discs can damage both the rotors and wear your brake pads down quicker than normal.
Brake Pedal Vibration Fix
Although it’s tough to diagnose without seeing the vehicle, the best solution for a vibration in your brake pedal is to have it inspected. Our mechanic shop locations can inspect your brakes and give you a competitive repair estimate to fix the vibration. Brake vibration repair at our garage have ranged from resurfacing warped rotors to brake disc replacement (if the rotors are beyond the required thickness). Chances are, if your discs are causing the vibration, a brake pad replacement and inspecting your calipers to ensure they are not seizing will be part of the fix so the problem does not re-occur. Resurfacing rotors involves removing a thin layer of metal on a brake lathe. Usually, when machining discs is performed you can visibly see the warped spots on the rotor. Severely warped or damaged brake discs will require a replacement.
Is It My Brake Drum or Brake Disc Vibration?
Most vehicles today are equipped with brake disc and pads on the front and rear of the vehicle. However, there are later model vehicles’ which have a rear brake drum and shoe system. The same principle applies in the case of drums and shoes. In these braking systems, rather then a brake caliper pressing inward against the rotor, the brake shoes apply pressure outwards against the inner surface of the brake drum. The drums can also wear unevenly and create a brake vibration. Machining, resurfacing the inner surface of the brake drums or a complete drum replacement will likely correct the problem.
Brake Problem FAQ's
+ Car pulls to one side when braking
When your vehicle pulls to one side while pressing the brakes, you have unbalanced pressure on one side of the vehicle. This lack of pressure – or too much pressure can be the results of a leaky system on one-side. Perhaps a brake hose or line is leaking fluid and losing braking pressure. Too much pressure is often a brake caliper issue putting to much pressure on one side of the vehicle.
+ Burning smell when you drive
If a distinct burning smell when frequently applying your brakes is apparent, this could potentially be a sign of a seized caliper applying constant pressure pressing your pads against your brake discs. If your vehicle is standard transmission, it may also be the sign of a worn out clutch.
Should this odor appear, pull to the side and ensure your parking brake is disengaged. Let your brakes cool off. And schedule a brake repair.
If you see smoke coming from your wheels, its almost certain you have a caliper problem. If not inspected right away, you risk damaging your brake rotors as well, leading to higher repair costs.
+ Vehicle bounces feels loose when sudden braking
If you vehicle feels loose (bouncy) when braking hard and releasing, this may be a sign of suspension problems, not your brakes. This could be a shock or spring replacement.
To relieve any worry about your cars performance, stop by our repair shop for a visit.
With all of these symptoms, it is possible that a squeal, screech or sound from your brakes is nothing serious and maybe the result of debris or moisture entering your braking system.
For peace of mind and to be certain have your brakes inspected.
+ Brake pedal goes to the floor
If your brake pedal sinks to the floor, you may have issues with excessive brake pad wear or a potential leak in the braking system. This could be more serious as your master cylinder requiring a replacement. If your brake pedal goes to the floor, do not delay a brake inspection.
+ Brake pedal vibrates / pulsates
If you experience your brake pedal vibrates or pulsates when braking, this could indicate an uneven wear on your brake pads and rotors. A brake repair and machining of your brake discs should correct the problem.
To know for certain what is causing brake pedal vibration when braking, schedule your visit today.
MORE TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS: