Incomplete pad-to-rotor contact - solution?

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Thread: Incomplete pad-to-rotor contact - solution?

  1. #1
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    Incomplete pad-to-rotor contact - solution?

    I did some searching here and elsewhere, but have been unable to find a good solution to an issue I've had with my floating single-piston VW brake calipers over the years.

    I replaced brake pads recently on my Passat, and one thing I now do whenever I replace the pads/rotors is to clean the caliper carriers at the surface where the pads are held. I've had pads hang up before to where only the piston-side pad would then make good pressure on the rotor. Cleaning these guides should so that the pads are free to move should have resolved that. I also remove the caliper pins and clean and grease them every time I replace the pads or remove the calipers for other service work.

    But, I still have incomplete contact of the pads on the rotor. The innermost portion of the pad (closest to the center of the rotor) does not seem to be providing braking power. The rotor is rusted at that innermost portion of the pad contact area on the rotor. On the outermost portions, the pad is making good contact and the rotor is rust-free, shiny and clean. I've had this and similar issues with single-piston floating-caliper VW brakes over the years and am wondering what else I need to fix to get proper braking performance.

    I do not have this issue on my wife's Volvo V70R, for example. But, her car uses fixed calipers with pistons for the pads on each side of the rotor.

    I can't believe that I am doomed to a life of incomplete brake power in my Passat - what's the solution here?

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  3. #2
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    How is the surface of the caliper carrier? It should be smooth and if it's rusted to the point of roughness you could file it down until it is smooth. Otherwise, I've gotten brake pads that included a stainless steel 'shim' that fits over the surface of the carrier to provide a smooth surface. I've never used them since things don't rust much here in CO. I assume you are replacing the rotors or having them turned when you change pads? What type of pad material are you using?

  4. #3
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    Hi Iowegian,

    I clean up the surface of the caliper carrier every time I change the pads. I usually use Dremel with a brush tool or cut off wheel to get through the built up rust and back to smooth. I've had new brake pad sets that included those stainless shim, but I don't use them if putting them on leaves the pads too tight to move easily.

    To be honest, I stopped turning the rotors every time I change pads once the shops available that cut rotors got scarce some years back (in the Chicago area where I grew up, Forest City Auto Parts was a great resource for that - but no longer. They were bought by Trak Auto and were never the same, then Trak went out of business). I usually put on new rotors with every 2nd or 3rd set of pads, but I never allow the rotors to go below the minimum safe thickness (they are usually swapped well before that).

    As for pad compound, I use a basic semi-metallic pad. I'd rather wear out pads than rotors. For this Passat, I've used Callahan rotor and pad sets (front and rear).

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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by khnitz View Post
    To be honest, I stopped turning the rotors every time I change pads once the shops available that cut rotors got scarce some years back...
    I never have rotors turned because of what I learned from a mechanic friend; he had a brake lathe on which to surface his customer's rotors (which they expected), but he didn't turn rotors on his own cars. His reason was that turned rotors are more prone to warp once the outer, stressed surface is removed. The down-side is a longer break-in period to get full contact back.
    khnitz likes this.

  7. #5
    PZ
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    I usually don't have my rotors cut either. The one issue with heavy rust on the rotors is that it will cause the pads to stop making contact. New pads will not fix the issue, the rust is simply too deep into the rotors to wear away and the rotors will be too thin to cut. I had this issue with my son's Passat in Pittsburgh when he left it buried in snow after the shifter froze in the snow under the car. A few weeks later it finally thawed, but the rotor damage was done.
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  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by PZ View Post
    Passat in Pittsburgh when he left it buried in snow after the shifter froze in the snow under the car. A few weeks later it finally thawed, but the rotor damage was done.
    My adoptee was parked for 7 months in VT. Outside. Pads and rotors are on the list. Pads are ok, but not worth saving.
    khnitz likes this.

  9. #7
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    Based on the feedback here, I will plan to get new rotors/pads in order to get full braking performance from this setup again.

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