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When I took my 02 Honda Accord in for its last service (not Honda) I had a very bad vibration in the steering wheel when braking which was obviously brake related. The shop told me that the front rotors were warped and when they checked their records they saw that these rotors had previously been replaced by them and were still under warranty. Thus no charge for me.

Fast forward to now, and about ready to go in for the next regular service and in the last month I have noticed that the car is developing a similar vibration as per before.

  1. Should I be concerned that the same symptoms are coming back so soon (after less than 4000 miles with around 140k on the clock)?

  2. Are there other explanations to a vibration in the steering wheel that changes proportionally with speed (and only occurs when braking)?

  3. Should I approach my repair shop with other than "There is vibration in the steering wheel when braking, again"

FWIW my car is driven occasionally around town, but mainly I tend to use it a lot more for 200 mile trips of continuous freeway driving at 70+ mph

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To answer your question: Are there other explanations to a vibration in the steering wheel that changes proportionally with speed (and only occurs when braking)?

Modern Rotors warping after installation is a myth. Cheap rotors come eccentric, or with uneven thickness, and/or they get installed crooked. Then pad material builds up on the high spots, create more friction than the rest of the rotor, and you get the pulsation feeling.

Every factory service manual has specs for rotor runout and parallelism. Every dealer and shop ignores them, slaps the rotors on and sends it out the door. Why? They can make more money faster doing more jobs, and usually can blame the owner for "warped rotors" when they come back.

A second possibility is improper bedding, where a pad imprint causes friction material buildup on one part of the rotor more than the rest. The pad imprint comes from standing on the brakes while stopped, with overheated rotors. This doesn't happen to commuters much, and is more of a performance driving issue.

Read this post for more details.

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I have a friend with an 02 Accord that has the exact same problem. He's been changing front rotors (and pads) every 12-18 months as far back as I can remember - due to warping. Our take on this issue - brake rotors on this year Accord are too small for the weight of the car. In the late 90's and early 2000's, car manufacturers were all trying to get gas mileage up. Any weight they could skimp on they would - including brake rotors. These rotors get hot and warp as a result of normal driving. Don't know of any other solution but to keep exchanging them during the warranty period.

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If they replace the rotors with chinese made rotors, they tend to warp more easily. The steel quality from China is not as good as compared to steel harvested from the US. If you insist on using the subpar quality rotors, when you come to a complete stop after heavy braking, use your e-brake to hold you in place as the clamping force of the pads on the hot rotor is the primary cause of warping.

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