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Old 02-09-2021, 07:25 PM   #1
mistahsnowman
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Default Steering wheel vibration when braking

Hi all--

I have a 2007 Ion that I bought with ~65k miles in early 2016. About 10,000 miles later, I started to noticed a vibration in the steering wheel when braking. This steadily got worse and worse. I suspected warped rotors, which I had read was an issue with these vehicles, so I replaced them. I also did the rear brake shoes while I was at it.

Since then, every 10,000 miles or so I notice the same issue coming back. I have replaced the brakes and rotors four times since I have owned this vehicle. It is primarily used for commuting and is never braked hard - my commute is mostly rural with a few stoplights, but nothing much.

Last time, I bought a pair of calipers in the event they were sticking out and causing brake drag. Same thing - no vibration for several months and several thousand miles, and then the problem slowly returned.

Any ideas why this is occurring? I'm at a loss, and frankly sick of it. Would love to hear anybody's ideas!
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Old 02-10-2021, 10:24 AM   #2
Bill Murray
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Default Re: Steering wheel vibration when braking

This is an interesting case. There are a lot of dubious cast iron parts coming from China...can this be a factor? Hard to tell. Are you trying different brands of rotors and pads each time?

I recommend AC Delco gold or AC Delco OEM rotors and Akebono pads, all avail on Rockauto.

Good luck with your analysis.
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Old 02-10-2021, 10:07 PM   #3
mistahsnowman
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Default Re: Steering wheel vibration when braking

It's certainly a possibility. I have bought different brands each time, though. This last time I just bought the absolute cheapest rotors/pads and I feel like they lasted about the same as any others.

I never did purchase AC Delco rotors/pads, though. I'll keep that in mind.
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Old 02-12-2021, 11:36 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steering wheel vibration when braking

Obviously this should not be happening. So give the better grade parts a try. A Akebono is a Japanese brand, part of the Toyota keiretsu (business network), their pads are made in Kentucky and I've had good luck with them.

I also recommend occasionally getting the brakes good and hot, maybe three hard stops from 60 mph or so (country roads recommended, don't get hit from behind). This seems to burn off the residue at the interface that can accumulate from constant very low pressure applications like you'd get in daily stop and go.
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Old 02-16-2021, 03:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steering wheel vibration when braking

Maybe your wheels are out of balance.
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Old 03-23-2021, 10:40 AM   #6
mistahsnowman
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Default Re: Steering wheel vibration when braking

Thanks for the thoughts and advice, guys!

I sold the Ion last week so unless the new owner is a forum member (I didn't think to ask, but he does like Ions apparently), we will likely never know the answer to this conundrum.
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Old 05-03-2021, 11:50 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steering wheel vibration when braking

I've experienced this same issue since I got my 2006 Ion back in December 2019. The front rotors were warped then, so I replaced them with the cheapest rotors I could find locally at a brake store for $30 each. Then I bought $16 ceramic pads on eBay. MISTAKE!!!

Not sure if it was the cheap pads or cheap rotors but they were warped in less than 6 months! Yes, I go down lots of mountain roads on most weekends, but I try my best not to ride the brakes. I learned many years ago that when you ride your brakes for a long distance down a hill, they tend to get super hot, then at the end of the hill if you go to stop, sometimes it feels like you lost your brakes!

Anyway, I bought ANOTHER set of pads, this time Akebono. I really like this brand, and they are one of the top rated brands out there if you do google searches! But not cheap! Then I bought the cheapest rotors Auto Zone sold for my car at $50 each. THOSE even warped within 6 months!!!

NOW, I'm almost giving up hope of rotors not warping! I've had cars for 8 to 10 YEARS that didn't warp rotors, but apparently Ion's just eat them like candy!

THIS TIME, the THIRD set of rotors on this car in less than 18 months, I bought drilled and slotted rotors, which tend to cool off much faster. Found brand new ones on eBay for $47, which is half the price of standard rotors at Auto Zone! Then I bought my 3rd set of Akebono ceramic pads, they were $52 on eBay (like $70-80 at local parts stores!). Getting ready to install them tomorrow.

So YES, warped rotors are apparently pretty common on a Saturn Ion. I can say that from experience! I can also tell you from experience that there is a HUGE difference in stopping power with ceramic over semi-metallic! You barely touch the brake pedal and you feel your car slowing way down! Since I tried ceramic I won't go with anything else again, even for the rear shoes.

Friends kept telling me you NEVER want to skimp on brake parts and buy the cheap ones, and I've learned with this car that they're all right! Now I spend double to triple what I used to, but the difference in stopping power is worth every extra dollar!
...
Sold the 97 SL2 and bought a 06 Ion! SO MUCH NICER car! Problem is, I don't think there is a way to change my username, so I'm leaving my username alone until I figure out if/how it can be changed.
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Old 05-03-2021, 11:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steering wheel vibration when braking

My last comment popped up twice by accident. Not sure how to delete a second one so I'm editing this one.
...
Sold the 97 SL2 and bought a 06 Ion! SO MUCH NICER car! Problem is, I don't think there is a way to change my username, so I'm leaving my username alone until I figure out if/how it can be changed.

Last edited by 97SL2guy; 05-04-2021 at 12:01 AM. Reason: was a copy of last comment
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