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Pulsating brake pedal.


New Member
November 15, 2008
Reaction score
City, State
Calgary, Alberta
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 Explorer XLT
When I press the break pedal hard, there is a noticeable pulsating feeling on the pedal.

I would like to try to fix this problem myself.

I admit that I have never done this type of maintenance before, but I am fairly handy and I have quite an extensive set of hand tools.

I am looking for advice, suggestions and encouragement before I attempt this project.

My mechanic has quoted me a ballpark of $700 to do this work.

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why is it pulsating? is it the abs or do you need new rotors?

pulsating break pedal

No, it is not the ABS type pulsation.

I believe that it is most likely from the rotors.

The problem became very noticeable after not driving the vehicle for a month.

I took a month long holiday and the truck sat in the garage undriven.

After driving the vehicle for a while, it got better but the pulsation is very noticeable.

My mechanic said that it was rust build up on the rotors.

If its just rust on the rotors it will go away eventually when you use the brakes.

$700 is insane for pads and rotors

Parts will be around $100 per axle if you do it yourself.

Usually the rotors will warp if some over torgues the wheels. DId you recently have any tire work done on it?
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I had that problem.I just changed the pads and bought new rotors. spent about 100 on parts. 700 sound like a ripoff.

i just changed my front pads and rotors. Rotors costed me $50.00 for the pair and the brake pads costed me $40.00 for the pair, so $90.00 in parts and i paid my friend $80.00 to do it.So i paid $170.00 parts and labour.

$700.00,, wow where did you take it to?

sounds like somebody wants to have a great xmas at your expense,,

i actually called them at my local Canadian Tire,, they said the parts are 34 - 40 a rotor, and the pads are about the same,, so about 70 $ a side for the front,,
that should take away the pulse,,

I would recommend Wagner or Ford OEM rotors. I had Bendix rotors separate on my 88. The rotor on the front passenger side had the inner hub connected with the disc spinning around. Stay away from cheap rotors. Some machine shops could cut & balance the old ones if they are still within a certain tolerance threshold.

I had the same thing with mine last week, and i had newer rotors and pads, turned out the rails for the pads just needed some lube

I'll add to clean your hub surface to remove as much rust as possible. Rust grows and causes runout(which causes the brake pulsation). I use something called naval jelly to remove rust (its phosphoric acid - sorta non toxic - its in coca cola actually, imagine what it does to your teeth) and steel wool. Then coat the hub surface and rotor contact area with a thin coat of anti-seize. Do not get or remove any Anti-seize that gets on the lug studs. Torque all wheels with a torque wrench.

I learned this from a brake article in a professional magazine.
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pulsating breaks

Thanks to everyone for your excellent suggestions.

It sounds as if the break job quoted is way off base.

I will try your suggestions about taking the rust off and re-torquing the wheels to see if it helps. This I can do before attempting any repairs that may be over my head.

If the rotors are already warped, re-torqueing the wheels won't help.