So I go to get my wheels changed and balanced and I leave with the driver side rim heating up unnaturally even after driving just a few miles.

The car stops unusually quickly. It's quite clear that the brake pads are clutching/seizing on the rotor—even when I'm not pressing the brakes.

My question is: What could have gone wrong? I'm suspecting they messed something up. Would, for example, tightening the bolts far too much lead to pushing the brake pads against the rotor? I see no (brake fluid) leakage, nor any other symptoms, except that they also did a lousy job at balancing the wheels: The steering wheel wobbles starting from 30mph.


It's disappointing that no one recommended not driving the car, or driving it minimally, until the problem is fixed.

I now know that if one continues to drive the car—even for just 50km, the rotor in question will heat up to the point where it will no longer be guaranteed that it is perfectly planar. A simple job of replacing the brake pads and resetting the fluid becomes an expensive replacement of the rotor, the calipers, and the tube leading to the calipers.

  • You said, "to get my wheels changed and balanced" ... Does this mean the wheels are new (or new to you)? Or do you mean to say you had the wheels/tires rotated? Commented May 22, 2014 at 22:55
  • Yes, the only reason I went in for work done is to replace the old tires (but not the rims). The four tires are now new.
    – Calaf
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 23:16
  • You didn't mention what type of car this is. Some vehicles have specific rims front/rear, this due to size and/or offset. If this is the case for you, it might be causing problems. Commented May 23, 2014 at 1:41
  • The four rims are definitely identical. They appear at this (originalwheels.com/pontiac-wheels/vibe2005rims.php) page as part #6558.
    – Calaf
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 2:04
  • My guess is coincidence/bad luck. I've had multiple calipers suddenly fail/start sticking like that and there's never been any warning. At some point probability is that it will happen to somebody who is picking up a car from a tire shop. That might just be you. :-) Commented May 23, 2014 at 20:15

3 Answers 3



Rather than second-guess the cause, I would recommend that you take it back to the tire shop and explain to them what you're experiencing.

If you'd rather not...

Clearly something is binding in the brakes and the most obvious thing to do is to remove the wheel and inspect for any kind of obstruction.

  • 1
    Pure speculation: It could be that a balancing weight has unseated and wedged in between the brake pads and disc, which might explain the wobble and the binding brake, but this is extremely unlikely.
    – Zaid
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 14:18
  • 1
    That might cause a change in braking but I would expect a secondary symptom of a crazy loud screech on braking.
    – Bob Cross
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 19:05

When you say drivers side, do you mean front or rear? If front, then it could possibly be just bad luck. It's really hard to do sabotage a front caliper so I wouldn't say the shop didn't anything shoddy.

If it's the rear, then how often do you use your parking brake? I know some places will use parking brake even though it is an automatic. It could be that the parking brake line is seized up. If rear I'd take it back to them and see if they could remove the tire and knock the E-brake loose.


Sounds like you just had a speed sensor go bad, Just happens sometimes. It happened to me on my suburban. it caused my front passenger brake caliper to grab and release realy fast.

  • Can you expound on your answer? While you maybe right, lack of information here will not garner any votes nor will really help anybody in the long run. Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 2:09
  • The symptoms he's describing don't match a wheel speed sensor failing. The anti-lock breaking system/traction control has speed sensors on both wheels. If one of them fails, the traction control will think that wheel is not spinning, that all the power is going to the other wheel, and will apply the breaks to the other wheel. After a couple of minutes of this, ABS/traction control will realize its sensors are bad, and shut itself off.
    – Rob K
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 20:59

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