Can an old fashioned army trick revive Johan's carved discs? Find out inside.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a Volkswagen Golf with some weird problems. Maybe you can give me some advice. After 65,000 miles, when I finally had to replace the front brakes, I noticed that the discs were carved. So I did the old fashioned army trick to make the discs smooth. I put the car on blocks, removed the tires and brake pads, and turned on the engine. Then I put it in gear, had my wife give it enough gas to get the wheels spinning, and took some sand paper and polished the discs. Now, 15,000 miles later, I have the same problem. I'm sure I put in the new pads, but maybe there's something I missed in the army trick. Please help. -- Johan

RAY: My brother learned that trick when he was in the army too, Johan. In fact, he got a personal letter of thanks from General Washington for fixing the chuck wagon at Valley Forge.

TOM: Actually, Johan, I think you did miss something. Namely, new discs. The discs on this car are almost as soft as the pads, and in our experience, we've found that by the time the pads wear out, the discs have so many grooves in them, they look like original 1963 versions of Wayne Newton's "Danke Shoen."

RAY: And that "army trick" didn't do anything more than waste sandpaper. You're not about to remove deep gouges in iron with a piece of paper, no matter how abrasive it is.

TOM: What you really need are new discs. And luckily, on this car, they're very inexpensive. For less than $100, you can slap on a brand new pair, and they're easy to install.

RAY: And to avoid this problem in the future, replace or machine the discs every time you replace the pads. Good luck, Johan.

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