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squealing brakes?

03-26-2007, 03:41 AM
1990 Corsica, 4 cylinder, with a really bad paint job :)

For the past week or so, my brakes are really squealing alot. Actually, the squealing sometimes happens now even when I don't have the brakes applied. I'm guessing I probably need some brake work done.

What I'm wondering is.......if I need new brake shoes, and if I also need some rotor work done, what happens if I only choose to get the brake shoes done (and not the rotor stuff)? I mean --- won't having new brake shoes be better than nothing and at least get me through the summer? I just really don't want to be putting any more money into this old heap of mine. I hope to buy another car this summer...

Is there any way I could determine how bad the brakes are just by driving the car? I'm thinking that there's probably a good chance I'll be told I need rotor work, even if all I really need are new brake shoes.

Any advice? Thanks.

03-26-2007, 07:49 PM
Here are my thoughts. Our old 91 makes noise in the mornings (rear shoes) even after a major replacement of everything back there. That is just normal for Corsicas if the noise is coming from the rear in the mornings. If you have noise from the front and it is constant you can check the wear indicator on the pad. You should be able to do this without removing the wheel, just look towards the top, thru the slots in your wheels. The indicator is a piece of metal that is fixed on your outward pad and when it gets thin the indicator rubs the rotor and makes a squeal that will only get louder. If the indicator is 1/4" or so away from the rotor then your pads MAY be OK, but it could also mean your caliper(s) are sticking. Assuming you have someone that does this for a living work with it they should be able to check this all out for free by a simple examination. One good thing, your parts are cheap compared to other cars. How does the car stop now? Does it pull to one side, or, does the pedal vibrate when pushed? If so, rotor is warped and you can see yourself if there a lot of gouges in the surface. Should be perfectly smooth. I know a local shop here that will replace the pads only if the customer advise them they have no problems with vibration and if the rotors look good. I have also bought vehicles where someone has done this themselves. I do not like this myself as the rotor has to also be a certain thickness to work right. I suppose if they are checked for thickness and are OK and are smooth you should be OK, but getting the old ones trued or turned should only add about 10-15 bucks to the cost. If you have a reputable garage do this you should be able to have the old ones "turned" smooth, for a few dollars each (as long as they are thick enough), or, just buy new ones, provided they don't mark them up too much on you. My 91 rotors cost me about 15 bucks new so I buy new ones when I change them out rather than deal with getting them turned. Get the car looked at and have an estimate. Bear in mind you also have other things that have to be done such as lubing the calipers and checking the rubber hoses for cracks. The car relies on the front brakes for 80% of your stopping power. The rear brakes do little work so you REALLY do not want to skimp on the front ones. Maybe buy the parts yourself from Advance and find someone (assuming you are not going to do this yourself) that works on the side or on their own. You should be able to buy pads, hoses, rotors, and lube for the calipers for less than 80 -90 bucks, worse case scenario. I know this may be more information than you need but you have to be sure these things work. Unless you have a lot of major issues I bet it won't be as bad as you think it might be.

03-26-2007, 10:59 PM
Thank you for your reply!

I ended up taking the car in today, because the noise was just so loud, I was getting afraid to even drive the car.

I got them to do what they felt was absolutely necessary...... So they replaced the front pads, and the rear shoes (which apparently were down to 5%). However, they said I should go back in 6 months to get the rear cylinders checked. They also recommended something about rotors (but not necessarily right now).

Ended up being more than I was hoping for tho. The pads were $52, the shoes were $52, and labour was $120 and taxes, so the bill was $260. Oh well. At least it's done.

I also have an alternator question, but am thinking I should probably start a separate thread for that.

Thanks again. Much appreciated.

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