Front end shimmy when braking at speeds of 60 mpg or more

Asked by Dec 29, 2009 at 11:11 AM about the 2007 Chevrolet Malibu

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2007 Malibu sedan.  I have just replaced the front tires and the front and rear brake pads and rotors.  After all this, the car's front end still shakes badly when I brake at speeds of 60 mpg or higher and especially if it is on a down grade.  It feels as if the shaking is up near the driver's side passenger cabin.  The car does not do this if I am braking at slower speeds. Any ideas what this could be.  I can't continue to spend money of probable fixes in the hopes we hit the correct  fix.

30 Answers

55

New pads need some time to bed in so this might be cos your bein to demanding on them to soon.. Other than that! it could be you have a warped disc on one of your front wheels .. Thing is, if it didnt do it before you changed your pads then its almost def your new pads.. ease up and give your pads time to bed or you will screw up your brake disc..

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
45

i would say u didnt give the pads enough time to break in like the other guy said, take the front rotors in to get turned, then reinstal them and let the brakes seat before you pound on them. you can start the initial break in by using the brakes lightly for a half kilometer (or 1/4 mile) at a time repeat several times then be nice to the brakes and onlly brake hard for emergencies for the next 1000k after they should be fine

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

check the tie rods or you bought warped front rotors, it happens sometimes.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
20

I have the same problem, the pads are fine on mine, the rotors are as well. My wheels just got re-balanced and I have new tires. I hear the same lame answers about rotors and pads, I am going to see if the tie rods are bad, and check into a stabilizer as well. This seems to be a problem on malibu and malibu maxx. If this doesn't fix mine, I am going to trade it off and get a Fusion.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
20

I have the same problem, I replaced the rotors, pads, calipers, and finally the right side cv axle, I am trying the left tomorrow. It feels like the front end is going to come apart as I brake. The car has had several other issues, but most have been easy fixes. By the way, the tie rod ends where fine, the steering control was fine as well. My mechanic said he has actually lost sleep trying to figure out what is causing this. My next step after the cv joints is to buy a Ford...I KNOW that will fix it.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
3,235

cv joint would not do that . it's either warped rotors or a worn tie rod.

10

I check all that an I think it's the motor or trans mounts because when I jacked it up a crunk up the car put it in drive an hit the brakes it shook like hell

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
20

i have the same issue at hwy speeds... some general variance in speed and driving conditions produce a shimmy in the front pass side, but most of the time its under mild to decent hwy braking that i get the worst results. it doesnt feel like a warped rotor, i was guessing a control arm bushing or tie rod...?

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

You're front rotors are defective. Remove them and have them checked on a lathe to find out for sure, or just return them to the store and let them know that they are defective.

40

this is a common problem on almost all Malibus, Chevy should have made a recall for the brake system, the problem is the brakes are not large enough for the weight of the car, causing them to heat up. When they are hot, they begin to warp and cause the shuddering. When you drive on back roads <60 mph when you brake you don't notice it because they are not hot. If you drive on the highway and get the shuddering and go to a back road and brake you will still feel it due to them still being hot. Visa versa on highway, if you go straight to the high way drive <60 and haven't used your brakes yet you wont feel the shudder. Once they get hot, and begin to warp you do. Only way I can think of fixing it, which i haven't tried yet, is to buy high end rotors/pads, (drilled and slotted) to let the rotors cool down faster. Also ceramic brakes may help as well. I personally own a Malibu, and it has been hell since I bought it. ECM wont even connect to the obdII.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.
30

I have a 2006 Malibu and it shakes like crazy a little below 60 and really bad around 40. No car I have ever had does this and I've run brakes and rotors right down to metal on metal and never have any cars done this. Only while braking, so not the drivetrain. Garage currently says brakes have 80% and rotor runout is 0.005 inches. I'm not buying warped rotors, 0.005 doesn't sound like much and remember the caliper floats on pins side to side so .005 doesn't seem like much of a challenge. I have also heard rotor warping has not been proven, maybe they wear uneven. It does it with cold cold brakes. I am thinking maybe ceramic pads don't work on this car, bad struts, bad alignment (car pulls slightly to the left) or maybe air in the system. These things could support a resonant response

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

I have a similar problem with my 2005 Maibu sedan. The brakes vibrate really badly at speeds greater than 100 km/hr (60mph) but he vibration is much less noticeable at lower speeds but it is still there. The brakes work effectively to stop the car but the vibration at speed is very unnerving. I had the rotors turned some time ago and the pads are OK so maybe I will have the tie-rods checked next time. It seems like either the discs move side to side while turning between the pads or the discs are of uneven thickness. I hardly ever use the brakes hard so I didn't think that the rotors could be that badly warped by heat unless the braking system is really under designed and constructed.

20

I have a 98 Malibu. I have replaced the left CV joint, brake caliper (which was frozen), both front rotors. I rotated the tires thinking it may be a tire since it happens at high speeds. Makes no sense it only happens at >70 mph. What about a hub bearing? That would be a problem all the time while driving even at low speeds? Why would a tie rod make the front end shake that bad and wouldn't it be all over the road?

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
10

Ive replaced everything everyone else here has. Its not the rotors!!!!! It has to be a loose motor mount. Idk what else to do... i mean i have replaced both cv axles, new rotors, new wheel, new tires mounted and balanced perfectly. New wheel bearing hub assmbley as well. Balljoints, tierods, etc are all fine. Gonna look into the engine mounts tomorrow. Will update when i know more.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
40

@WacoTexas1384: same issue here, please keep us posted on what you find out, thanks!

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

So anyone find out where the vibration is coming from, I had a slight vibration on the drivers side, it has gotten way worse, to the point your voice shakes when you talk while in the car. I have an appointment next week, I really don't want to go through the whole song and dance over tires, when I'll bet money that isn't the issue. Mine is a 2015 malibu, 56000km.

10

Not motor mounts. Im at a loss, i think its something in either the motor or transmission that has become unbalanced. Im selling it.

I noticed when doing a brake set on my girlfriends Malibu that the front rotors do not sit flush up against the hub. That gap between the hub and the rotor seems to be fairly prone to seating incorrectly. My suggestion would be to make sure rotor and hub seats are clean, flush, and free from debris. Then put the wheel on lightly torquing one nut at a time in a criss cross star pattern. I would look no further than a warped or poorly seated rotor for a front end shake on braking.

You could well be right. I recently bit the bullet and had the rotors and brake pads replaced and the vibration problem disappeared. Perhaps the garage did a good job of seating the rotors (I hope so) or maybe it just takes a year or two for the problem to reappear.

40

I have noticed this problem on many GM vehicles; a fairly startling shudder-like experience when braking moderately when the vehicle is moving fast (60-70 MPH). If brakes are pressed VERY hard, slowing the car at near max braking, there is no shudder, but light-to-moderate breaking causes the shudder at high speeds. This is not typical warped-rotor "pulsation", and I've replaced rotors, verified near-perfect (essentially zero) INSTALLED run-out with a dial indicator, used different pad compounds, checked wheel bearings, tie rod ends, and control arm and sway bar bushings and mounts.... all with essentially no change. I've found this on Cadillacs and Chevys and all GMs in between. Have any of you ever fully replaced the brake calipers and hardware (sliding pins), or just the caliper hardware? This seems to hit teen-aged to middle-aged GM vehicles, and I can see some wear on the caliper guide pins. I plan to mount a Go-Pro camera under the car with a light and video the shuddering behavior, looking for movement. I'll let you know what I find. But if anyone's had success or NOT with new completely new calipers or hardware, please let us know.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
40

I just replaced both of my front calipers after trying everything else, and it finally fixed the problem!!

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
40

Fantastic news! I suspected that if the hardened steel guide pins showed any wear, the much softer cast iron calipers themselves probably had much more significant wear inside the holes, (where you can't easily inspect them), making the caliper tend to "wobble": stick-rotate-release-rotate back.... then... stick-rotate-release-rotate back, over and over again to create the "shudder" effect. So even if we replace the caliper pins, the holes in the calipers are likely warn even worse. I'm going to replace the calipers (on the Cadillac I'm currently working on), and will report back here either way. They're only $23 each. Thanks Medieval80!

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
40

No problem, hope that helps! Let me know how it goes...

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
30

I eventually fixed my wicked shudder in my 2006 Malibu. I noticed when I had a really heavy person in the front of my car the shudder went away. I'm thinking the loading on the suspension (mainly struts) stiffened the system do no more resonance ( the shudder is a form of a resonance). Also the car pulled a little to the left. I replaced the struts and the car goes straight, and the shudder reduced to about half what it was. As I mentioned earlier, garage checked rotor run-out, only .005. In any case I then changed front rotors, pads, calipers, and caliper bracket. Problem fixed. I think the previous comments on rotor seating and issues with caliper and bracket and pins are probably on track. I think the design has an inherent tendency to resonate with a little bit of pulsing input. Seems motor jiggles a little at 15 mph too but I can live with that

30

Great job Engineteacher and Midieval80!!

30

I wonder if perhaps when tires are rotated or changed the rotors end up not flat against the wheel. Then the off axis rotor makes the problem and also the resulting constantly side to side sliding of the caliper pins accelerates the wear of pins and bracket

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
40

Agreed...

Ok I'm having the same issue calipers brakes rotors tie rod cv joint all bushings motor and tranny mounts all are fine also the tire wears down to the radial on the inside around the outer wall and about 2 inches in the tire from the motor side out after less than 13,000 miles . It's insane wtf is wrong with this pos car

Inner tie rods

Was was doing n it stop after I replaced inner tie rods to check raise two front wheels off the ground place hands on 3 n 9 if it has play I sure it's that good luck

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