My front brake rotors keep warping! Is there a fix?

This is a common problem on DSMs. The consensus is that improper tightening of the wheel lug nuts is often to blame. Nobody really knows if it is caused by overtightening (excessive force) or unequal tightening (uneven force). Most people put the blame on the widespread use of impact or air tools to do routine wheel operations, as well as inattentive or careless operation of said tools, which result in poorly done lug nuts.

While having correctly tightened lug nuts is always a good idea, personal driving habits may contribute towards warped rotors.

The most likely answer is:

  • Periods of hard driving, followed by long periods of brake application (such as at stoplights) may contribute towards uneven cooling of the rotors, promoting rotor warpage.
  • Track driving can also be a problem, especially if the parking brake is engaged before the rotors have cooled down. The parking brake holds the rear brake pads to the hot rotors, again causing uneven cooling. Dirty pads, which can develop hot spots, may also be a factor.

Those who experience persistent warping problems on pre-1993 cars may wish to upgrade to the Big Brakes, but be warned - even Big Brakes will not necessarily prevent rotors from warping.

The Last Word: Some shuddering may be caused by uneven deposits on the rotors - Audi owners often blame this for problems. Also, while lug nut torque may be a contributing factor, most actual auto techs I've talked to sneer at this idea. The Subaru guys probably had it right decades ago - the rotors are just a bit small for this size of car, and get overheated easily.

QA #495

Last Updated:
2016-11-28 06:33

Cam Dorland | 95 Eagle Talon

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