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Old 08-17-2007, 07:52 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 3
Default 03 Vue, Rotor Pains - Technical Discussion

Our 2003 Saturn Vue is at the dealer right now
and we are told that we must replace the front
disc rotors because they are out of round. The
rotors were previously replaced right after
purchase, then replaced again in 2004,
resurfaced in 2005, and started giving vibration
early this year but only at highway speed did we
notice it. First to eliminate the driver from
the equation, she has driven several vehicles for
at least 250K without a single rotor or brake issue.

When I discuss the problem with the dealer's service
manager, which is not that the rotors are out of round,
(that is the result of the problem) the dealer appears
to not have much in the way of corporate research or
procedures to eliminate the problem. It is as if there
is no reason for them to invest time and energy to resolve
what may be a marginal design where material substitutions have occured somewhere down the product line, or there may be a maintenance point or adjustment that was not monitored at the factory when producing the vehicles.

We discussed that perhaps the ratio of front to
back braking force was not correct and that
could have contributed t having the front
rotors doing more than their designed share of
the braking and thereby producing repeated out
of round rotors. I asked them to clarify whether
one or both rotors were out of round and I was
told that they both were out of round, so that
would seem to eliminate a single caliper issue
in the front causing one rotor to go out of round. And
it appears to me that if to rotors are warping equally
and at the same time, it is either a design issue or an
abnormal usage issue. I have the benefit of being married
to the driver of the vehicle so I know it is not a usage issue.
So I went ahead and had the dealer do the rear brakes
adjustment in the event that this might resolve the root
problem. (I was told that braking in reverse will not
fully adjust them and in order to adjust them properly
it must be done manually by a technician). This I was very
suprised at. Anyone have any expert advice here?

I then asked if perhaps the wrong pad material
was installed at the factory which could be the
root problem, the dealer checked and reported
that the pad material installed on the vehicle is the
correct pads material for the vehicle which was installed
at the factory because they had not been changed at this point 37,500 Miles on the 2003 vehicle...

So I ask you for assistance in helping to
determine the root cause of the problem. At this
point I do not want to invest >$500 in new
rotors only to have them out of round in a year
or two.

I have two options as I see it:

1. Buy aftermarket drilled/scored lifetime
warranty rotors and pads and install them.


2. Fix the root cause problem and have the
dealer replace the rotors with OEM equipment.

What could I be missing? I have not read the service manual for this vehicle yet as it cost >$300 to purchase. Any input or similar experience?


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Old 08-18-2007, 12:13 AM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 3
Default 03 Vue, Rotor Pains - Technical Discussion Cont.

Ugggh...just back from the dealer.

In addition when picking my vehicle back up this afternoon after servicing the rear brakes, the service manager "Rick" repeatedly told me "that his truck has to have the brakes serviced every 18 months, that is just the way I drive" he reported. He also stated that no Saturn will go years without rotor replacement. He furthered his argument stating that the rotors being put on cars today are inferior (I assume he meant with respect to size and weight) that the rotors of old, the ones that he was able to have turned several times before being unable to use them.

As an American and a product designer and manufacturer, I have a problem with with the attitude of the service department that accepts whatever the status quo for the experiences of the few (I mean by the experience of the few; the ideas of Rick the service manager and others who think that the new rotors are crap and they have to be changed far more frequently that the rotors of the past). I think that Saturn as a company need to have the service departments challenge the factory where there are problem items, ie things that impact the customer's opinion and perspective of Saturn so that you get a much more proactive feedback path, right now it looks like they just live with whatever is produced and figure out a way to get through the day. If this problem with our 2003 Saturn Vue is to benefit Saturn, then Saturn will have to fully understand the problem, not just change the parts and move on. Saturn will be changing a whole lot of parts if this is the prevailing service attitude. If the problem is the front to back braking load ratio, and there is no current measurement point for the service personnel and/or the factory aside from "it was designed with specific aperatures and therefore cannot deviate from the design intent", then I think that Saturn needs to have or design a procedure or sensor to accomodate this. ABS will do this but only under very limited operating conditions and I dont think there is any useful diagnostic output for the service personnel to troubleshoot braking issues. If the problem is something else (I repeat myself, my wife has driven hundreds of thousands of mile with no rotor problems from any vehicle except this one; 1993 Honda Accord, 1997 Chevy Venture) then my Saturn dealer did not find the problem, someone else will have to step up and take their place when it comes to getting it done right.

With all that said, my current plan is to install performance parts on the vehicle and see if they can tolerate the vehicle better than the OEM parts.

I think that Saturn might be missing an opportunity by not offering performance parts to replace at least the rotors.

My wife is looking at purchasing a new vehicle in the fall of 2008, and right now she is not thinking Saturn. As a diehard buy American brand man, Saturn is making it hard for me to sway the purchase decision to Saturn.
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Old 01-01-2009, 02:15 AM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 3
Default Post back - How long has it been?

So it has been a while since the aftermarket dimpled performance rotors were installed. My wife noticed the difference in the braking, mostly because the high performance rotors made more noise during significant braking.

But happy to report, no issues and it has to have been ~20k since posting.

Now the PO128 code...uggh, design issue..definitely!

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