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barb61 08-07-2003 03:00 PM

Steering wheel shakes when braking...
Hi there.
I'm still in love with our new car, but I do have a question...I've been noticing kind of a vibration when I start to brake after going at a good speed (not really fast, but not coasting, either). At first I thought it felt like when I had a warped rotor in my old car, although I don't think my brake pedal goes up and down like that...Today I let go of my steering wheel when I braked and it was shaking back and forth. It only does this when I brake as mentioned.

Any ideas? Brakes? Rotors? Steering? Alignment? I will probably take it in to the dealer, but I'm just curious what you all think.



p.s. Thanks for all the congrats. I truly have been enjoying the car!

08-07-2003 03:32 PM

If its under braking only, it sounds like rotors to me...

benson500 08-07-2003 03:43 PM


How old is your car? When I first got my ION, I thought the same thing -- "How could my new car have warped rotors?" I felt it at highway speeds while braking for exits and such. Oddly, it only lasted for a few weeks and now it's gone. I have no explanation for what caused it.

Strange :whoa:

Your's may go away on its own too.

Jaseball 08-07-2003 03:50 PM

It sounds like it could be the brake pads wearing in, but if the car is already past 500 miles and the condition is not improving or has not disappeared I'd have it checked out.

barb61 08-07-2003 04:02 PM

I only have about 150 miles on it. If it were the rotors, wouldn't I feel it in the brake pedal?

Jaseball 08-07-2003 04:38 PM

With the car being at 150 miles, there is almost no way the rotors could be warped or worn down to the point where it would affect your braking or where you would feel anything through the pedal.

The brake pads are still new and are still forming with your brake system and this is the most likely cause.

I would suggeste taking it easy on the brakes and let the pads wear down. After 300 miles or so, stomp on the brakes in a hard stop in a safe location to let the self adjustment work.

It should clear up on it's own. The car and brakes are new and things have to be broken in. In your situation it is nothing to worry about, unless the conditions change or the problem does not go away after a few hundred miles more.

barb61 08-07-2003 05:30 PM

Thanks. That makes me feel a bit better. I remember reading in the manual (yes, I actually read it...)that you should avoid hard stops until 500 mi. Maybe that is so they can be broken in, as you said...

Jaseball 08-07-2003 05:53 PM

Just pay attention to it and be sure to mention it to service if it gets worse or you are concerned.

I know on my own Ion I had very minor squeaks and sleight vibration at first, but it was nothing that made me concerned.

Maybe check in on the Tech section here on this site or wait until a tech spots this thread and makes a comment. Good luck and let us know how things go.

mtlmutt 08-07-2003 08:42 PM

did you buy aftermarket wheels with your car?

amosstar 08-07-2003 10:21 PM

Did you hit a pothole? Could be the tires out of whack? Other than this....I had a similar problem with the VUE (9600 miles) and it turned out to be warped rotors. Good to have a warranty!

- Ali

PAGuy77 08-07-2003 10:25 PM

I just started feeling the steering wheel vibration recently myself. It only happens after coming down from a higher speed (40 or above). 40 and below, it doesn't do anything. Not sure. I have checked the rotors, and they look just fine to me.

barb61 08-08-2003 08:28 AM

[QUOTE][i]Originally posted by mtlmutt [/i]
[B]did you buy aftermarket wheels with your car? [/B][/QUOTE]

Nope. Didn't buy any before market stuff either :) Very basic Ion 2.

HiWire 08-08-2003 09:24 AM

Sounds like rust on the rotors. Does it go away after a while? :dizzy:

AZguy 08-08-2003 09:53 AM

Since the wobble only occurs while braking, my vote goes for warped rotors or a defective pad. Yea, you only have 150mi on your car but there's really nothing else that would cause a wobble ONLY when you brake other than something associated with the braking system like rotors, pads, or calipers. It's not likely one of the calipers are bad so I vote for the rotors or pads. Have the dealer look at it... it will not cost you a penny and it's best go get it looked at before something serious happens.

Cap138 08-08-2003 10:40 AM


I've also had the same shaking that you describe happen to me right after I bought my ION. The steering wheel shakes a little and I can feel pulsating in the brake pedal when the brakes are applied quickly at speeds in excess of 50. It exactly matches the sympotms of warped rotors. But I've recently hit the 500 mile mark and haven't noticed it too much since then, so I'm thinking it could just be the "breaking-in" of the new brakes parts.

I've also noticed a slight vibration while just coasting in the 50-70 mph range, maybe a wheel is out of balance and it could be responsible for the braking vibration as well. I'm going to take it in to Saturn sometime next week and have both vibrations checked out.

Other than the slight vibration, my ION has been great for the first 500! :)

barb61 08-10-2003 11:46 AM

We're going to one of those "new owner" service things (complete w/ a light dinner!) at the dealer on Thurs., so I'll ask about it then. It seems like it may be getting a bit better, but I'm not sure. I'll let you know what they say...

PhotoPaul 08-10-2003 07:32 PM

I've noticed the steering wheel shaking, but in my case it is usually at lower speed, and I've not had any pedal pulsing to go with it.

cris_thomas 08-11-2003 07:24 AM

Wheel balance
Shaking while under braking can also be caused by unbalanced wheels. This will be more noticeable at higher speeds. If the little weights they ad to a wheel to balance them have fallen off it could cause the steering wheel to vibrate when braking.

Since your car is so new I would just take it back to the dealer and ask them to look at it.

- Cris

andersjakyleros 08-23-2003 06:30 PM

Had the same problem and Saturn had to replace the rotors and drums after the first week of ownership.

100KSW2 08-24-2003 04:18 PM


You should have this checked out. It could be the brake rotors or an out of balance wheel (a wheel weight missing or even a clump of mud), but anything stopping related is something to be checked out.

If this is your first Saturn then I hope that you will be very pleasantly surprised by that award winning Saturn service. They really [i]do[/i] want you to be happy!

Best wishes with your new car.


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