Reader Question Dear Austin,
Thanks I had been in touch with you with regards to my brake issue. I have learnt to adjust my driving based on my capabilities of my brake.
I was away for 2 months (May, June) — and my 2003 Honda Civic was in my parking lot. When I returned back, everything seems to be fine, but for the last 1 month (July, till now) — whenever I try to stop my car applying brakes, I get a mild repetitive “thud thud thud” noise that slows as the car stops.
I don’t know if it is coming from the front or rear of the card. This happens all the time whenever I apply brakes to stop the car. Could you please throw some insight in this?
The car has 53,000 miles on it right now.
This is most likely caused by your front brake rotors are out of round just slightly and need to be resurfaced or replaced. The front brake pads are pulsating in and out because the brake rotor has a small high spot on it causing the brake pads to pulsate. You can probably feel this pulsation in the brake pedal or in the steering wheel as well…usually.
I would inspect the front brake rotors and front brake pads and at least resurface the front brake rotors.
You can rule out the rear brakes as the culprit by stopping the car just using the hand brake. In a deserted parking lot with no other vehicles behind you, at 30 MPH, slowly pull up on the hand brake (hold the release button down with your thumb to make a slow and gradual stop) until the vehicle stops. The hand brake only utilizes the rear brakes so if you do not hear the noise, the problem is likely to be caused by the front brakes.
Reader Follow Up
Thanks for your quick response. Got three questions.
1. What happens if I do not know that the rotors need to be resurfaced, and continue to drive? will it become a bigger problem down the line?
Austin- It will only get worse and might contribute to premature brake pad wear
2. I aligned my wheels when the car had 45,000 miles on Aug 2006. I replaced all tires in Feb 2007, now the car has 55,000 miles on it. Should I need to align it again? How often should I perform wheel alignment as a thumb rule?
Austin – Hard question to answer, personally I do an alignment anytime there are new tires installed…just to make sure an out of aligned vehicle does not void your tire warranty or cause premature tire wear.
Depending on where you live, me in Houston…you could probably get an alignment every month with all our pot holes! Once a year should be fine for the average driver doing 12K miles a year. It won’t hurt to align more often
3. How do I know when to replace shocks and struts? Do they contribute to tread wear?
Austin – They do not contribute to tire wear unless they are bent due to a collision or major impact with a pot hole, when the ride of the vehicle becomes bouncy or you don’t feel the tight response from the steering during cornering or braking, it might be time for replacement.
They are a great sales item…..so don’t get “sold” into replacing them unless you feel the vehicle RIDE performance is not what it once was. With 55K I would not expect them to need replacement
Not a problem