When my ’04 Corolla’s odometer hit 70,000 miles it was time to get new front brake pads, so I ventured over to brake masters and had them replaced. $50 dollars later I was back on the road driving to and fro various consulting gigs. A few thousand miles later though, I noticed some vibration when applying the brakes. When I went back to brake masters to have them re-checked, this is what I learned:
It turns out that the brake pads on my model Corolla last so long that they wear down the brake rotor surfaces to a thickness which allows a very slight surface curvature between the internal spokes of brake rotor (especially if you forcefully apply the brake during stand still). The brake masters technician measured the thickness of my rotors and although they were within the “allowed tolerances” he suggested that the surfaces had probably become thin enough to allow some slight surface denting causing the vibration on braking. Here’s a picture of the problem (with dramatization):
So I hopped on an automotive supply website, ordered some new brake rotors & pads($100) brought them back to brake masters (instead of paying for their marked up parts) and had them installed for $70 dollars labor.
Now my car brakes like new again and although I wasted some money on the original brake pads and installation, I’m happy to say that I feel safe driving my car again.