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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 04-15-2013, 07:47 PM
wisbimmer20 wisbimmer20 is offline
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Stuck Caliper?

My car will randomly start making a rumbling, wheel sound and the steering wheel will feel erratic. This happens at various speeds and I also noticed the rotor was so hot afyter driving water evaporated when it hit the rotor.
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  #2  
Old 04-15-2013, 07:52 PM
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I can tell you that shooting the brakes with cold water immediately after driving is not making the situation any better.
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  #3  
Old 04-15-2013, 07:54 PM
wisbimmer20 wisbimmer20 is offline
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I stepped in a pool of water next to the wheel and it splashed onto the rotor and sizzled loudly. Seemed not quite right
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  #4  
Old 04-15-2013, 07:59 PM
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Your rotor shouldn't be anywhere near that hot after regular driving. You have a stuck caliper.
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  #5  
Old 04-15-2013, 08:02 PM
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agreed. your caliper has seized. i've had that before on my e46. i had touched the rotor and it turned the tip of my finger white. damn hot.
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:02 PM
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brakes will get hot, depending on how you drive they may get hotter than a similar vehicle driven by another person...


that being said, a stuck caliper usually will cause uneven brake wear, possibly pulling, and dragging. any of these could cause the brake rotor to be overheated, but, there will be a distinct *difference* in temperature between either side of a given axle when this occurs. calipers do not 'rumble'.

given the steering issues, you may be looking at a steering rack. check the fluid level and condition.

this doesn't exclude a possible caliper issue, mind you....just that the chances of a caliper issue creating a rumbling and steering issue at teh same time, intermittently, is less than that of a steering rack causing the same issue(s).

an infra red thermometer is ideal to check the temo differential between the rotors to indicate a possible caliper/brake issue. and they're cheap.






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Old 04-15-2013, 08:08 PM
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I've had a stuck caliper cause a light "grinding" noise, but not rumbling. Hard to know exactly what the OP is experiencing. Normally I'd say that rumbling is for sure the sign of failed hub bearing. Not sure what to make of this "erratic" steering, either. I mean, if he has a sticky caliper, it could in theory cause the steering to feel strange.

And I do feel very sure that if his rotor is getting hot enough to vaporize water on contact, he definitely has (at least) a stuck caliper. He could certainly have other issues going on, too, but being hot enough to vaporize water is so far beyond the normal operating temp that it can't really be anything but a stuck caliper.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 04-15-2013 at 08:09 PM.
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  #8  
Old 04-15-2013, 08:24 PM
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If he's got a bad hub bearing he'll have both rotor drag and the rumbling.
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:26 PM
kmorgan_260 kmorgan_260 is offline
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I had a stuck caliper on a Dodge van that would cause the wheel to vibrate when it got hot. I assume it was warping the rotor. That might be considered rumbling? Definitely needs checking on.
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  #10  
Old 04-15-2013, 08:30 PM
wisbimmer20 wisbimmer20 is offline
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The car will start to make a rumbling/grinding noise (sounds like a flat tire almost) although drivability isn't affected too much but it will cause the steering colum to shudder. My steering wheel already has back and forth play in it but I think that's a bad tie rod. It is certainly a quagmire. The noise goes as quick as it came and some days doesn't happen at all. Something definitely going on in the wheel area
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  #11  
Old 04-15-2013, 08:32 PM
wisbimmer20 wisbimmer20 is offline
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Have never had front wheel bearings replaced since ownership in 2009. Have had rears replaced in 2011
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  #12  
Old 04-15-2013, 09:06 PM
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definately needs to be investigated. check the simple things first, like power steering fluid level and condition. black fluid, or metalic particulate indicate excessive heat/internal wear. low fluid indicates a leak.

checking the rest will require lifting the front up and wiggling the tires to check for looseness in the tie rods/ends. wiggle @ 3 & 9 o'clock, as well as 12/6, 2/7, 10/5. these last 3 check for bearing play. regardless, all of these directions should be zero tolerances. any wiggle indicates wear.

spinning the wheels will also help identify any dragging in the brakes, but it's best to pull the wheels and inspect the brake pads for uneven wear.

checking the caliper for binding slides or bad hose can also be done, and i check these by gently compressing the caliper slowly about 1/4-1/2 inch or so. no more, though. you need to leave some room for the hose test. this is where the bleeder is cracked open (attatch a hose to the end to assist in chaneling the discharge to a container), and the piston compressed again. this time, if it doesn't get easier you can suspect a binding caliper. if it does, then close the bleederwhile compressing the piston (you won't trap air this way...) and slide the caliper back and forth on the slides. it should move freely. if not, then the slides will need to be cleaned, inspected for grooves, and replaced if necessary.

not sure if you'll do this or have a shop do it, but i figure this could help you out either way.




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  #13  
Old 04-18-2013, 06:19 PM
wisbimmer20 wisbimmer20 is offline
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The caliper was indeed stuck. Exercised it and lubed it (did not use WD40) and now is functional again. If it happens again I'll just get another caliper. Also noticed the right sway bar mount (part that attaches bar to frame) has completely detached. This happened on the other side a couple years ago and I had fixed it but I believe that is causing thr steering wobble. Steering wobble is far less noticeable it seems with the caliper issue resolved
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  #14  
Old 04-18-2013, 06:21 PM
wisbimmer20 wisbimmer20 is offline
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With the laughably thin el cheapo metal mounts it is amazing it has lasted this long IMO
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  #15  
Old 04-18-2013, 06:22 PM
wisbimmer20 wisbimmer20 is offline
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The design allows mositure in which is why when I repaired the other side I had applied a caulking mixture to that area to prevent moisture from re entering. Very poor quality and engineering IMO when it comes to the sway bar mounts
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