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shaky braking

1576 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  RallyBob
hey all...

i looked through old threads, but didn't find what i am looking for.

i have noticed a problem with my gt...when i brake, whether hard or soft, i get a shake in the steering wheel. sometimes it's bad, sometimes not so bad. i have looked at the rotors thinking it was a warped disc...put a dial indicator to them, and they ran out pretty true, maybe .001" to .002".

now i'm not convinced that it's brake discs. i don't feel anything funny in the pedal, just the shaking in the wheel (the shaking is more of a side-to-side pull, like the car can't decide whether to go left or right).

any ideas?? a friend thought that maybe it was the tie rod ends, but i don't know if i buy into that. the shaking isn't consistent from on instance to the next. if it was tie rod ends, wouldn't it shake the same all the time??

if anyone has any ideas, please let me know.


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Almost anything in the front end can cause what you describe. Start by checking a few things with the front end off the ground. Check to be sure your wheel bearings are adjusted correctly, your upper and lower ball joints are ok and that your bushings aren't shot. Any of these can cause a movement in the front that transfers back to the rack and pinion. They are all pretty easy to check, with the wheels on try pushing and pulling the front in all directions. This is easier with the steering locked.
you mentioned that your indicator showed they ran pretty true,,, are they thin? There's a few cars that are famous for rotors that warp with temperature; once they have heated up from repeated braking (long downhill) then they warp with the heat expansion and later return to their "true" selves as they cool. I live in a very hilly area and I was told by a mechanic that many Ford Tempos, Taurus, Mercury Topaz, etc are prone to this (I unfortunately owned one of each at one time or another). By any chance does the shake happen when you start out cold or after you have been braking for a while on a hill?
In no particular order, check the control arm bushings, the tie rods, the play in the rack and pinion (it's adjustable BTW), and the alignment (speficially if it has toe-out).

took the car out for a drive today, and noticed a couple of things about it.

1) it shakes about the same whether hot or cold.

2) the intensity of the shaking changes with speed (obvious, but worth mentioning).

3) no movement or pulsing in the brake pedal at any time.

4) car does have a slight tendency to wander a bit on straight roads, but doesn't seem to do it in corners. could this be caused by looseness in the rack and pinion?

had a helper push the brake pedal in slowly while i turned the front tires, to check for warpage...didn't hear or feel anything odd. the brakes both got firmer as the pedal went down, without any spot feeling looser than another spot.

i'm wondering if, with a little bit of play in the rack & pinion, and a neutral toe adjustment, could the tires be "fighting" each other when i brake? i would think that, with the normal slight toe- in and a tight rack and pinion, that everything would hold tight during braking...does this make sense?

i will look at some of these things tonight, and see what i can see.

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mjewell said:
4) car does have a slight tendency to wander a bit on straight roads, but doesn't seem to do it in corners. could this be caused by looseness in the rack and pinion?
Sounds like alignment and/or loose parts for sure. Under side-loading in a corner the vibration will usually go away, as will the wandering.

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