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Jim Grant Tech Tips Jim Grant Tech Tips
A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.



Lincoln - Mercury
  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

'97 Mercury Villager, Brake Vibration

Q: Recently I had rear brakes replaced on my ‘97 Mercury Villager. Shortly afterwards I developed a vibration in the brake pedal. This became worse and during a road trip to the mountains, we had to go to a repair shop. The service manager there said that there was a TSB issued about the rear brakes, that they "should not be adjusted". I have not found any notice, but after he turned the drums...we haven't had any problems. Is there a TSB listed somewhere that you know of that I could see?

- Chris D.

A: I’m not aware of a “do not adjust the rear brakes” service bulletin. I’m more inclined to believe that your vehicle was suffering from the over adjusted rear brakes syndrome or the brake drums that were not machined correctly when the brake job was performed. An incorrectly machined brake drum is not always noticeable when the brake work is first performed. The new brake shoes and the newly machined finish on the brake drum tend to soften or muffle the imperfection at first. Once the two new surfaces have worn into each other the imperfection makes itself known. You could drive a vehicle a week or two before a brake pulsation/vibration develops. The fix would require machining the brake drums again. Adjusting the rear brake shoes on any vehicle, is not real a science per-say, more or less based on feel and experience, both of which can cause a problem even with the best of technicians. Over adjusted brake shoes are not always noticeable at first (unless really over adjusted), what happens is as the brakes heat up the clearance between the brake drum and brake shoes goes away. This is when the problem compounds itself. Without enough clearance, the brake shoes rub on the brake drum creating more heat. More heat makes the fit tighter and the brake shoes rub more. This results in additional heat and can cause a vibration in the brakes that becomes more pronounced the longer the vehicle is driven. Stop the vehicle and let the brakes cool and the problem will be gone until the vehicle is driven long enough for the brakes to heat up again. A brake drum is not made to handle this constant heat and, over time, the brake drum will begin to distort resulting in a brake vibration. Once again the fix requires machining the brake drum to correct the condition.

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