When replacing brake pads doesn't fix the vibration in my front-end, what's next?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I drive a 1989 Ford Taurus. When I apply the brake pedal, the whole car begins to shake, especially the front end. The faster I'm going, the worse it shakes. I took the car to a mechanic, who said I needed front and rear brake pads. I paid him nearly $200. The car still shakes. I think I got taken for a "shaky" ride. What do you think?

TOM: I think your mechanic was remiss, Chris. First of all, the rules of the Genoa Convention clearly state that no customer is to be allowed to leave a repair facility with fewer than three previously-unreported-newly-diagnosed problems. The fact that he didn't try to sell you shocks, tires, or upholstery cleaner is unconscionable, and I, for one, intend to report him to the Board of Boat-Owning Governors.

RAY: But the real reason he was remiss was that he didn't thoroughly test drive your car after he replaced the pads. You may very well have needed pads, so he didn't necessarily rip you off. But he obviously didn't drive the car at high enough speed to see if the pads fixed the problem....which they didn't!

TOM: If we give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he checked the front end and ruled out a more dangerous problem, my guess is you need new disc rotors. Most likely, the one or more of the rotors is warped, and every time the wheels turn during braking, the high point of that warped rotor pushes back against the brake pads, and that's the cause of the shaking.

RAY: And if he had really test driven your car, at least he would have known that the pads didn't fix the problem. He still might not have known what to do next, but at least he could have looked a little sheepish when he took your 200 bucks.

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