2001 Honda civic EX. manual transmission 166k miles. Rear drums, fairly new front brake pads.

I went to get new tires on my car yesterday. When they got the car off the ground they called me out to show me what they noticed. All but my drivers rear wheel were hard to turn. My first thought was brakes were sticking for a few reasons. My other thought was bad/seized/frozen wheel bearings. I did have to change my front passenger wheel bearing because my stud was sheered off and the shop wouldn't change my tires until that was fixed. To change the stud I had to press out the spindle hub assembly. There was some slop in the bearing so I decided to replace that as well since I had it apart.

As for my thoughts as to why it is the brakes. I just bought the car a few days ago and first impressions of the car was that the cars brakes were tight (I thought that was a good thing), as in there wasn't much travel in the pedal before the car started slowing down. The second thing I noticed is that the e-brake doesn't have much travel either before the rear tires lock up. Finally when I come up to a stop and put the car in neutral and coast the car will slow down much faster than any of my other Hondas I've owned over the years. Also worth mentioning is that the car doesn't roll hardly any when in neutral with no brakes applied. When I changed the stud I had to take off the brakes and the bottom slide pin doesn't move (which made putting the caliper back on difficult. I plan on taking that all apart and cleaning it up and greasing it since it is probably rusted up (or buying new depending).

I'm not totally convinced that the brakes are the culprit as they don't make a dragging noise nor is there the distinct smell of burning brakes but my rims do appear to be hot after driving 20+ miles. (not that I know how hot rims should be after driving I just happened to noticed because I was wearing shorts and my leg touched the rim and it was warm...also not sure what normal temps are for that sorta thing) As for my other thoughts I'm thinking that maybe a seized bearing is the problem. I do have some road noise that is more pronounced when I do a slight slalom on the highway (the normal test for wheel bearings) but the noise is still around after changing the wheel bearing which I thought it was.

Any thoughts?

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    Only two things which come to mind, and you've already covered them: brakes & wheel bearings. Not sure how you can test this. You could take the caliper off of the front (remove off to the side) then test the wheel bearing to see if it is sticking on its own. Just because you aren't hearing any noise doesn't mean it's not the brakes. It would be harder to test the rear brakes seeing as how they are drum. You could back the shoes off all the way and then test them. You could also take the drum off and turn the hub by hand to see if it's sticking. Just thoughts as comments. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 15:29
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    Does it get better when you open-close the bleed screw? Reason: It could also be the master cylinder. Brake problems do not rise from calipers alone
    – Martin
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 15:36

1 Answer 1


What can happen when you change brake pads is a stuck brake cylinder. What happens is that as the pads wear the cylinder sticks further and further out and builds up a layer of dirt and corrosion. When you fit new pads this corrosion prevents the cylinder from fully retracting. This often won't cause much noise as it's just like having the brake slightly applied but it will cause the wheels to get warm.

On drum brakes the self adjusting mechanism can stick after changing the shoes with similar results.

  • interesting. I'll take off my front brakes and clean them and lube them up over the weekend. If that helps I'll mark this as the answer. I just remembered that when I took the caliper off that the wheel spun much more freely. Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 11:56
  • I didn't verify the caliper as I ran out of time this weekend. I did however take off the brake bracket and had to torch one of the pins out. I went and bought new pins and boots. Greased it up and verified the pins could easily move. Much of my noise is now gone, but after driving around the block then jacking the car back up and spinning the passenger front tire it is still hard to turn, but no more brake rubbing noise. I'm going to repeat the process for drivers side. then dissasemble rears Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 12:37
  • changed both the calipers and brackets (since it was a kit and somewhat cheap) the front is fixed. Now just to do the back...eventually Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 18:55

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