Bad, bad, bad brake vibrations? Must be warped rotors

Question: I have a 2012 Honda Accord. When driving on the highway and braking at high speeds, the brakes vibrate as if the antilock system is kicking in, but more pronounced, and there is also vibration in the steering wheel. I have never had this issue driving around the city. My front brakes were replaced (not for this issue), and the situation remains the same. Do you have any ideas on what may be causing this problem? — C.Q., Flourtown

Answer: Typically, brake vibrations felt in the steering wheel indicate a problem with the front wheels. Rear brake problems are usually felt in the seat of your pants. Warped brake rotors are the No. 1 cause. Warping is often due to lug nuts not being evenly torqued. Your tech can check the rotors with a dial indicator. If the rotors are OK, inspect the suspension bushings, as they often manifest the vibration problem at higher speeds as you have reported.

Q: I have a 2007 Honda Accord with 50,000 miles. I went for a general checkup, and the dealer said that the upper and lower ball joints were cracked. They had to order the parts and said it would cost $562. I checked for a lower price and a private mechanic (recommended by a friend) looked at the car and said, “There’s nothing wrong with your car.” I took it back to the dealer and got a call from the manager’s office saying I was right, there is nothing wrong with my car. His excuse was that a new, young guy just out of mechanic school made a mistake. Should I take any further steps? — D.F., Philadelphia

A: Yes, take further steps — lots of them in the direction away from that dealer’s service department. Referrals from friends and associates are the best way to find a good mechanic, plumber, or electrician. Friends don’t have any reason to lie or make excuses. If they did, they would not remain friends much longer.

Q: I drive a 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe. I’m curious if I’m doing harm to my car’s engine by turning it on to listen to the radio and run the A/C while on my lunch break for up to one hour five days a week? — J.H., Deerfield Beach, Fla.

A: Most of the harm you are doing is to the environment, not your vehicle. After all, you see police cars idling for hours with the air-conditioning running along with two-way radios, laptops, and other gizmos.

Q: I am a staunch believer in proper tire pressure, and for many years, I have been searching for an answer regarding tire pressure gauges. I have had many expensive and inexpensive ones and no two gauges read the same pressure. Can you recommend one? — A.F., Allentown

A: Tire gauges are not precision scientific instruments, so we are not surprised that they show different readings. However, the difference is probably only a couple pounds per square inch between them. Tires that differ a few pounds from the stated inflation are much less a problem than underinflated tires. Even factory-installed tire pressure monitoring systems do not trigger a warning until the inflation is 25 percent below specs. Chose a gauge, any gauge, that you like.

Send questions along with name and town to Motormouth, Rides, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Fourth Floor, Chicago, IL 60611 or motormouth.tribune@gmail.com.