Shaky Steering Wheel

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Hi Bob,
When I start stepping on the brakes at a fairly high speed my '98 Concorde steering wheel shakes. And the brakes have a high pitched squeal when coming to a stop. We replaced front brakes, but that did not help. We were told it could be the rotors. What do you suggest?

In most cases, a steering wheel shimmy is due to the rotors being out of round. They would need to be trued by a mechanic on a brake lathe. The high temperatures that are created during braking could warp the rotors. It might not be evident to the eye, but you can definitely feel it in your steering where.

As for the sound, there is also the resonance frequency of the rotors themselves. I read an article in a trade magazine that explained it with extreme detail. To paraphrase, the system is designed with sound in mind as well as safety. The size up the pads and the rotors to match the weight characteristics of the car. As the brake components age, their resonance frequency (which was originally designed to be out of the range of human hearing) will lower. Sometimes to the point where we can hear it.

There is also a minimum thickness that is allowed for the rotors. This will be stamped on the rotors themselves. This is a safety issues. Turning them down below this point could result in catastrophic brake failure under extreme conditions.
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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