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I have a forward rotor on my '04 Chrysler Sebring causing a lot of pulsation when braking. I replaced the rotor- but within about a month the problem had re-appeared.

The guys at Monroe noticed my ball joints on my lower control arms are bad- they have a bit of wiggle that they said kept them from doing an alignment, and also said it would be the source of my warped rotors.

Do they know what they're talking about- is the ball joint really the culprit? What else might cause warping?

  • Are you sure they said that it would cause warped rotors and not that the judder/pulsing under braking would be caused by the bad ball joints? – Mauro Sep 24 '11 at 7:05
  • I'm pretty sure, and in hindsight I'm pretty sure they were right: I had the ball joints fixed (replaced the lower control arms) and there remains some pulsing (the rotor had become a little warped) but it has not grown worse (whereas before replacing the ball joints the pulsing would gradually return after replacing a rotor). – Nathan Fig Sep 26 '11 at 16:40
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Improper wheel nut torque, use a torque wrench, or an impact wrench with torque sticks to put on the wheels.

Rapid cooling such as running through water with the brakes hot is also suppose to cause it.

Cheap pads, they breakdown under heat and leave deposits on the rotor surface.

Ball joints should not cause the rotors to warp.

Example of Torque sticks below

enter image description here

  • 2
    Thin rotors will tend to warp. I no longer recommend resurfacing rotors as resurfaced rotors have a tendency to warp very easily. – Brian Knoblauch Jul 6 '11 at 19:07
  • You'll notice that most upscale newer cars have much larger brakes than cars made in the early 90s to mid 2000. During those model years, small, thin rotors are a major problem. – CarComp Nov 9 '16 at 14:54
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The main reason for reoccurring warping seems to be (form what I've read) "imprinting" your pads on the rotors: fully applying the brake on a very hot rotor for an extended period of time (a few seconds), thus leaving behind a deposit film that causes the warping problems. Maybe your pad is dragging on the forward rotor, causing it to heat up? With the way modern pads are designed, it's hard to imagine that daily driving habits would cause this unless you really ride the brakes.

As Larry mentioned, ball joints will not cause rotors to warp, and I can add that alignment will not cause this either. So it seems "the guys at Monroe" were just throwing that out because it sounded good.

The again, sometimes the problems caused by control arm failure can be confused for rotor failure. Did they do a run out test to check for wear to make sure that was the problem?

  • See my comment in reply to Mauro on the OP. It really does appear the Monroe guys were right: the warping ceased after I replaced the ball joints. – Nathan Fig Sep 26 '11 at 16:42
  • Then again, I did notice recently that there were signs of pad "imprinting" on my rotor (i.e., a clearly pad-shaped burn mark on my rotor). I'd like to say it can't be my driving habits, so perhaps your dragging pad hypothesis is the case. – Nathan Fig Jan 4 '12 at 20:01
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had the same problem and solved it by buying ceramic pads from a reputable manufacturer. ceramic pads as opposed to metal content pads leave less deposits on rotor.Nearly all rotor blanks are imported from asia and machined in end user country.Stick with a brand well renowned.Cost should not be a factor regarding brake components

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In my rather extensive experience there are two major causes of pulsating brakes. I maintain a number of vehicles for a fixed user base and knowing their habits and driving conditions has helped identify patterns, particularly with respect to brake issues.

The first and most common cause is "cheap rotors" which is hard to define, but usually the least expensive rotor at the store. They just seem to develop rotor warps, although sometimes they may take a couple of years to get there. These less expensive rotors tend to also have portions of the rotor metal unevenly break away, although not in a pattern that might support pulsating rotors.

The second most common cause is from users who may use their brakes enough to get them warmer than normal, and then sit stopped with substantial braking pressure for a period of time, like at a traffic light.

Users who fall into the second category have been successful in reducing their warping by lightening up on the brake pedal after stopping after long hill descents.

Solid rotors seem to have less of a problem with this than vented rotors.

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