92 Lesabre Braking Problems

OptimistPrime

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Hi, this is only my second post in this forum, but I could really use some help with my car's brakes. It's a 92 Lesabre with about 45k original miles on it. Recently the car developed some really bad wheel shake while braking. So far I've replaced the front brake pads, calipers and hoses, as well as the rear wheel hubs. I also had the rotors in the front resurfaced. Kind of a cheap out over replacing them, but the car only has 45k miles on it. They've barely been used.

So after all that work, the result is the car stops great most of the time. Braking under 50 mph is no problem. But at higher speeds, the steering wheel occasionally shakes violently when I try to stop. Not always, just sometimes. The car also has a bit of vibration in the wheel around 80 mph or so. This is also an intermittent issue. Sometimes it will glide along at 70-80 with no problem.

I'm kind of at a crossroads here and would appreciate some help troubleshooting this issue. I've already spent a lot of money and it's still doing the thing, so obviously it's kind of frustrating. I'm not sure if my next move should be to have the front wheels aligned, or replace those resurfaced rotors that I cheaped out on. Would it be more likely to be an alignment issue since the car shakes when I'm not braking? Also, the front struts appear to be going out, so is it possible the wheel shake could not be caused by rotors or run-out on the front hubs, but rather the shocks not giving the car adequate grip while braking? And could this also contribute to the resonance issue that causes the wheel to shake at speed?

I guess my question is should I address the rotors, alignment or struts next? If I go with struts I believe the car will need to be aligned anyway. As it currently is, there's no obvious drift to indicate it's out of alignment. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 

OptimistPrime

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Just to update, I found a good deal on some new rotors, so I'm just going to swap them out. I don't have the tools to measure whether or not the shop resurfaced the old ones properly, but I have to think there was probably some subtle warping. It's my own fault for driving so long on what was probably original equipment, right down to the pads.
 

Ameri

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2004 Buick LeSabre Limited
Inspect the control arms bushings. It can cause brake shimmy. I've experienced that before, it was in a BMW though.
 

Lubener

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"WAS" 97 Lesabre
Just to update, I found a good deal on some new rotors, so I'm just going to swap them out. I don't have the tools to measure whether or not the shop resurfaced the old ones properly, but I have to think there was probably some subtle warping. It's my own fault for driving so long on what was probably original equipment, right down to the pads.
Nowadays it's not worth turning rotors as you can get name brand new ones for slighly more than turning them. I would have someone qualified inspect your front end for a worn part if the new rotors do not cure your problem. I doubt that the struts could be worn out (would be bouncy) at such a low mileage unless that vehicle was driven hard. Caster would be the only thing that would cause a shake is usually non adjustable, similiar to a shopping cart wheel whobble, otherwise you would have a pull. I would also try swapping the tires front to back and retest.
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OptimistPrime

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Thanks for the replies, guys. I've been sweating over this car for a few days but haven't made much headway. The new rotors didn't do much to help. There's still an annoying vibration when braking from high speeds, and also a little resonance causing the dash to shake occasionally at speed. I decided to go have an alignment done, but the shop owner talked me out of it, said that wasn't my problem. I mean jeez, I don't think I've ever had someone talk me out of aligning my car's wheels before.

I took the car to another shop and was told I need to replace the front axles. That's a pretty expensive job they were trying to sell me on, and I don't know if the guy was on the level. Never heard of bent axles causing this kind of issue, but I'm a relative novice at fixing cars.

I swapped the front and rear wheels and it seemed to make a difference. It turns out there's a slight bend in one of the front rims. Last time grandma drove this car, she drove it right into a ditch in front of her house, so the rim must have been bent then. I never noticed much of a problem, but that may be because I was running 70r15 tires and recently switched to 60 series. That means a thinner sidewall, and thus I felt the bent rim way more. I will try obtaining a replacement from the junkyard.

I will check those control arm bushings as well. Not sure how to, but I just ordered a Chilton and Haynes guide for this car. Between the two I should be able to puzzle it out.
 

fullmonte44

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I doubt if you need new axles. I have never heard of a bent half shaft, short of a very severe impact which might cause deforming. The guy must have been thinking worn CV joints, but I don't think that would show up as an intermittent problem as you describe. Worn joints would be a more frequent problem.

Sounds like worn or damaged suspension part-you are right to look at the bushings. Also look very carefully at the control arms, maybe the side where wheel rim was bent also took damage on control arm or suspension part. Compare both sides for straightness of parts. It might help to have blocks or jack stands under both sides on the frame, so the front wheels are hanging free. You may also want to check the rear wheels suspension parts.
 

txbarney

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Something is allowing the wheel to move....and a bad rim or out of balance tire assembly just adds to the problem.
I would inspect the tie rod ends, since you have the skills to replace most of the parts, jack up the car and remove a wheel. you will probably need to reinstall a couple of lug nuts to hold
the rotor firmly in place. now grab the front and back of the rotor and move them in and out (like you are turning a corner) you should get very little movement, watch the tie rod end...watch the tie rod where it goes into the steering rack boot...look for movement there.
 
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