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Old 06-04-2015, 11:55 PM   #1
wiccanferret
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Default Brakes pulsing

The brakes on my 99 SL1 are pulsing, for lack of a better verb. It's similar to when rotors are warped, except the wheel doesn't shake unless at high speed, and even then it doesn't shake with the pulsing, if that makes sense. It's more like the car is just pulsing enough that the wheel reacts. Changing the pads and rotors did not affect the problem. The car does have ABS, but it's not an ABS-related feeling. Brake booster, maybe?

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Old 06-05-2015, 07:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

Excessive runout or stuck caliper. Sounds like the fallout from a low quality brake job and/or wheel bearing replacement.

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Old 06-05-2015, 02:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

Reminds me of a story . . .
While working for Saturn in Madison Heights back in '93, I purchased a new SL-1, 5-speed for my wife. [Wish I still had it . . .]To get the optional ABS it was necessary to upgrade to 4 wheel disc brakes (rear drums were standard at that time). Anyhow, the service engineering guys were doing work on brake pulsation to better understand the phenomenon and identify potential design/process improvements. Their problem was finding examples of brake pulsation to study. Turns out that my lovely wife had a 40 mile expressway commute (one way) to work. Her brakes had two "hard" usage events when slowing on the e-way exits each day. On that car she could induce a nasty case of pulsation in a matter of weeks (especially in the winter). The sweet part was that the prelim to any study by the service guys consisted of a COMPLETE brake job on her car (rotors, pads, the works including wheel stud torque readings etc.). I'm not sure what was learned but that car had 2 or 3 sets of brakes within a year. All for the good of engineering research.

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Old 06-05-2015, 02:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

I think some of the higher end new latest production rotors and pads have finally solved the hard application brake pulsation problems.

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Old 06-05-2015, 03:18 PM   #5
wiccanferret
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

So...replace newish rotors with other, more expensive new rotors? o.O

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Old 06-05-2015, 04:17 PM   #6
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

I have run into new rotors not running true, and after putting 3 sets of rotors on th back and still having the same pulses , I put a new set of rotors in the brake lathe, and skimmed them, and that solved the pulsations.

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Old 06-05-2015, 04:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

Quote:
Originally Posted by wiccanferret View Post
So...replace newish rotors with other, more expensive new rotors? o.O
That would be New HIGH QUALITY rotors, not the cheap low quality FLAPS crap.

For the non-true hub this works: see attached thumbnail
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Screen-2015-06-05_16-29.jpg (42.4 KB, 22 views)

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Old 06-06-2015, 08:33 AM   #8
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

I have heard (believe EVERYTHING you read on the internet . . .) that GM has developed a "lifetime" rotor out of some different material (ceramic????). Don't know if this is introduced or coming soon or a dream I had after a large pizza and a pitcher of beer.

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Old 06-06-2015, 07:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

That would be a marked improvement.

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Old 06-06-2015, 08:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
That would be New HIGH QUALITY rotors, not the cheap low quality FLAPS crap.

For the non-true hub this works: see attached thumbnail
Those are the shims I installed. Napa's best rotors had pulsation in 3,000 miles. Advance cheap ones have been great for over 40,000 miles after resolving the runout problem.

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Old 06-06-2015, 08:27 PM   #11
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

Runout is a killer and when a wheel bearing is replaced the runout both radial and axial must be checked. Runout is usually not noticeable until the grease on the pins is all pushed out of the way so the caliper hangs slightly.

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Old 06-07-2015, 10:56 PM   #12
wiccanferret
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

The Advance rotors are the ones that I have, heh. I guess I'll have to get the shims. Probably a stupid question but...where do you put the shims?

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Old 06-07-2015, 11:00 PM   #13
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

Between the hub and rotor but you have to measure the axial runout first so you know where the high and low spots are. Harbor Freight is the low cost dial indicator store and they sell both magnetic and clamp type holders. Either about the same cost.

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Old 06-08-2015, 12:02 AM   #14
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Default Re: Brakes pulsing

If it is the front brakes, runout could definitely be the problem. However, before blaming the "cheap" rotors right away, make sure the mating surface of the back sides of the rotors to the front part of the hub/bearing assembly is clean and flat. If there is excessive rust where some spots are higher or thicker than others, then even if the rotor is perfectly straight it will not rest flush between the pads.

To remove excessive rust, I recommend Naval Jelly and a fairly stiff wire brush. Just scrape off as much of the larger chunks of rust with the wire brush, then use the Naval Jelly for the rest. It is a tedious job that does require patience, but it may just fix the problem.

And DO NOT forget about the rear brakes. If you happen to have rear drum brakes, the pulsation could very well be from "warped" drums. In fact, that was my problem on my '97 SL1. Once I replaced everything in the back (including wheel cylinders and hardware), the pulsation went away. And once again, the mating surfaces between the front of the hub and the back of the drum need to be clean and flat.

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