Steering Wheel Shimmy Can Be A Warped Brake Rotor

Steering Wheel Shimmy Can Be A Warped Brake Rotor
By Larry R Miller

If you've been feeling a shimmy in the steering wheel when you apply the brakes and possibly the brake pedal pumping up and down, even slightly, you may have one or more warped brake rotors.

Disc brake rotors, the part the brake pad contacts when the brakes are applied, run very hot. If you've ever watched an under the car shot of the front wheels on a race car, you've seen the rotors turn red and glow.

When driving on the street you seldom get the "glow" but the rotors can become hot enough to warp, especially if you drive through puddles of water or snow after making multiple stops and starts.

Brake pads are in constant contact with the rotors. If the driver has a foot on the brake pedal all the time the brakes wear out prematurely and the rotors will run hotter.

Tow vehicles and driving in the mountains, or on crooked roads where the brakes are used a lot, can also contribute to warped rotors, especially if there if water, slush or snow on the road.

If you experience a slight pul upon braking that can be an indicator of warped rotors or brake calipers that need rebuilding. A spongy feeling brake pedal can be caused by excessively hot rotors, which in turn can boil the fluid in the brake calipers. In later cars there is generally an indicator light that will warn of low brake fluid levels.

Regular drum and disc brake type brake fluid collects moisture and can cause problems with the entire braking system if not changed at the recommended times in the owner's manual. Silicone brake fluid doesn't pose the moisture collection problem but it doesn't mix with regular brake and necessitates a complete purge and refill of the brake fluids.

Brake problems can be dangerous and any problem should be checked out by a competent mechanic who is qualified on that type of car's braking system.

More automotive self help information, including photos, can be accessed at Larry R. Miller has been a freelance writer since 1982. His main topics are health and fitness, travel, adventure and increasing fuel economy. He is a photographer, inventor, weekly newspaper columnist and international Internet marketer, ex-championship race car driver and mechanic.

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