Your brake fluid is probably low. Check it. Another possibility is that your brake pads are wearing out.
Some owners have found that the brake light comes on when it is cold out. However, this is often a symptom of another problem, and not the problem itself. Check your brake system to make certain.
Another possibility is some malfunction in the antilock braking system of your car. If you find your fluid is ok, have the ABS system checked out. It has been reported that 1991 cars may occasionally experience a glitch in a wheel sensor, causing the ABS system to reset.
Still another possibility is that you are accidentally bumping the parking brake handle with your right knee. This can happen to taller people.
All DSMs understeer from the factory. This is a natural consequence of using a FWD platform, since even the AWD cars were based on the FWD chassis. Understeer is generally considered 'safer' for the average driver, but can be a real pain for the advanced street or race driver.
Running a sway bar in the rear along with softening the front suspension and tightening the rear seems to help.
Fortunately, many vendors offer suspension upgrades for DSMs. With judicious tuning (possibly with the help of a FAQ page from the Calgary Area DSM site (mirrored here), the understeer can be reduced or eliminated.
It is perfectly normal for the wheels (especially the rear wheels) of most DSMs to be tilted 'inwards' - that is, having the top of the wheels closer to the centerline than the bottom. This is the amount of camber that the car has stock, and is not a cause for concern.
For those with measureable excessive negative camber, there are several correction kits available from various vendors which involve plates, bolts, slotted struts or shorter control arms. Several DIY methods exist using off-the-shelf parts as well, meaning there is something available for both front and rear on 1G and 2G cars. Usually, these kits are not necessary unless the car has been lowered, in which case camber correction becomes a necessity.
Canadians will be happy to know that Canadian Tire sells the eccentric bolts (TRW part# 13251A) required to do the front camber fix. Americans can buy Ingalls Engineering bolts from NAPA. DSMers from both countries can investigate the Ingalls Engineering websitefor more information.
With regards to the control arm modifications, note that hardcore racers may prefer extending the upper arm, rather than shortening the lower arm, to prevent the rear wheels from being pulled in towards the centreline of the car. The difference is so slight, though, that most people can't tell the difference. Additionally, the upper arms need not be as strong as the lower arms, allowing the use of less beefy (and expensive) heim joints for adjustable upper arms. This is not a factor for solid welded arms. Brackets for extending the upper rear control used to be sold by Taboo Speed Shop but seem to be discontinued.
In August '99, Ingalls Engineering released a kit for adjusting rear camber on 1Gs using adjustable control arms. They also have a kit using brackets for the same task. Check their website for more information - it's the 3842 kit.
Several vendors also offer camber plates or other solutions for those wanting the ultimate in adjustability. For these, shop around the vendors page for Tiel, Carerra, Ground Control or other make camber plates. 1G owners be warned - they only fit the front.
Vibration problems can be caused by a number of things, including:
If repeated tire balancing fails to solve the problem, the tires may not be 'match mounted'. This process ensures the tires and wheels are combined to make the most round combination possible. Since tires are never perfectly round, this can be important.
All good-quality tire manufacturers provide tire markings for match mounting, but sometimes tire shops don't know how to do it. See the Tire Rack Tech Page.
Drivers who experience an oscillating vibration (that starts, fades out and fades in again) may be the victim of flat-spotted tires. As the unbalanced tires rotate (at slightly different speeds), they will phase in and out of balance with each other. The only solution here is to replace the tires.
Stock (Non Turbo/Auto Tranny/Manual Tranny):
OEM Stock 1G FWD
OEM Stock 1G AWD
95-96 OEM Stock 2G AWD
Rear: 162 (+/- 8)
97-99 OEM Stock 2G AWD
95-96 OEM Stock 2G FWD
97-99 OEM Stock 2G FWD
It is possible to buy these types of rotors. Opinions on them vary, but it is unlikely that the average owner (or weekend racer) is likely to see much improvement.
The idea behind all of these altered rotors is to keep gas from becoming trapped between the pad and the rotor. The vents, slots or drills are intended to give the gas an escape route. Also, they are thought to improve rotor cooling. Both of these factors are intended to combat brake fade, where the brakes stop performing well when hot.
Unfortunately, they can all weaken the rotor and make it more susceptible to warping and cracking. Complaints of cracking are especially common on from owners of cross-drilled rotors. And most people have problems with overall brake performance rather than brake fade.
In most cases owners would be better off upgrading to Big Brakes or performance brake pads. These will certainly provide better overall braking performance.
Those who legitimately have problems with brake fade can also switch to higher-temperature Ford Heavy Duty brake fluid.
Many people have done this quite successfully. However, you need a high-temperature paint, or you risk setting fire to your brake calipers. Folia Tec (888-486-0067) sells speciality caliper paint in a variety of colors. Other people have used engine enamel, exhaust manifold paint, Tremclad rust paint and bar-b-que paints. Some paints are air-dry, while others require baking at high temperature to cure. It is essential that the brakes be clean and masked properly before painting.
No matter what paint you get, track-driven cars can count on getting brake dust embedded in the paint, which will deteriorate the color. Street-driven cars need not worry, since the brakes rarely get hot enough to cause the brake dust to stick to the painted surface.
A few people have done it. The "best" method involves finding a manual rack, which is difficult to do for DSM cars.
Apparantly most people who run into problems with the power steering end up with a modified power steering pump from a vendor. The pump provides improved steering response where the stock system is lacking.
32mm preferrably (1 1/4 Inch in a pinch).
There have been reports of 33mm. These might be aftermarket.
One trick suggested by Jason Drew is to remove the lower control arm (LCA) to subrame bolt. Then remove the fork to LCA bolt. The arm should swing down and out the way.
If you can't, another suggestion by Jeremy Gilbert is to loosen the top ball joint (do not remove the nut the whole way) and tap the knucle so that it drops a little. This should give you the clearance needed to remove the axle.
If your axle is seized into the hub, it is suggested by Jafromobile to use a big hammer and a big hole punch in the center of the axle to seperate them. (there is a hole there) Penetrating oil helps. So does heating it with torches, but using a torch risks metling the plastic abs sensors.
Michael Lee from ca.dsm.org posted this image from his alignment. See the specifications columns.
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:
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.
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