Truck pulling to one side after brake job.

timbulbDecember 25, 2008

I recently had all my brakes done on my `02 mazda B2300 truck. I got new calipers, rotors and pads on the front, and new shoes and an e-brake cable in the back. I think I got totally ripped off $1400 CDN, despite a 15% parts discount. I have no problem with the price, my problem is the vehicle pulls to the left now, the steering wheel actually moves in my hand when the brakes are applied at any speed. I`ve had it back to the shop twice. First time they re-bled the brakes and adjusted the rear brakes. It still pulled. The second time they only adjusted the rear brakes. It still pulls.

What should I do and say to this shop that I believe has fleeced me?

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Call them, and have the manager, and or the tech ride with you. Show them what the truck is doing and let them know it wasn't like that before. Brake pulls can be difficult to analyze, and its also possible inner workings of the business have failed to report the problem to the technician accurately. Let them know, they get one more chance, and then you will need to seek out someone else that can diagnose the problem.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 9:13AM
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I agree with your advice.

I am curious about what the problem is. If it had shoe brakes on all 4 wheels, I'd be looking for a set of shoes that were interchanged, i.e., the primary and secondary shoes interchanged. But this vehicle has shoes and drums only on the rears, and the driver reports feeling the imbalance in the steering wheel.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 1:34AM
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Oh the boss knows the problem and has spoken directly to the technician. They've both tested the vehicle and have told me the brakes just need some time to get "seated". Sounds like they're just feeding me a line.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 7:39AM
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Brake pulls can be caused by pad or rotor contamination. They can be caused by a brake hose failure which I will describe. The traditional brake hose failure is the result of the inner lining of the brake hose splitting, and then acting a bit like a check valve. It could slow a brake on apply, which would make the vehicle pull towards the side that operates normally, it could hold a brake applied which of course results in overheating, and then the pull can be consistent to one side, or even change sides at different times.

Then we have the one that confuses a lot of people. Look at your brake hoses on the truck, you will see a bracket that supports the hose. This bracket wraps around the hose making a firm grip. Should this bracket rust on the inside against the hose, the rust causes the bracket to squeeze the hose ever harder, until it restricts fluid flow through the hose, in both directions. You end up with a pull that goes one way when you first hit the pedal, and then the other way when you release the pedal. You will also notice, the pull goes away after a second or two because while the fluid is restricted and slowed down, it does eventually reach the same pressure as the other side. While the hose still needs replaced, simply relieving the brackets grip on the hose will allow it to work better, and that pull will be changed right away.

If pad contamination is the cause of the pull, swapping the pads AND the rotors side to side will make the pull go to the other side. Pad contamination can occur if someone greases the tie rods or ball joints, and uses too much grease, or if the joint seals are bad. The "evidence" of this kind of contamination disappears very quickly, but the brakes can simply pull until they are replaced. This could be what has happened, and they didn't see anything that would tip them off to the cause.

There are more possible reasons for brake pulls, front suspension issues can easily come into play. It takes real detective work by a good technician to sort through problems like this. Just remember, "anyone can do brakes" at least that's what people always want to tell me.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 8:59AM
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Whats the final word on this Tim?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 8:12AM
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The manager said sometimes the rear shoes can be hard to adjust. He said bring it back in a couple weeks and then the shoes will have a little more play to adjust them. I don't know what else to do but wait.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 7:25AM
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John and Tim:

Do you know if your truck has split braking system and how the brakes are divided. I'm thinking that it does have a split brake system with the LF and RR wheels on one hydraulic circuit and the RF plus the LR wheels on the other cicuit. If one of these circuits is inoperable, then only one of the front wheels is braking and this will cause steering pull toward the braking wheel.

To test, drive the vehicle onto a location with a loose surface (gravel would be good) or snow cover. At low speed, apply the brakes hard enough to skid the wheels. Look at the skid marks. Which wheels were active?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 7:39PM
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