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Discussion Starter #1
Our '06 Element has had an intermittent issue in the rear for over a year (I know that sounds bad; we used the car rarely in the last calendar year just for quick errands involving our dogs). A pulsating/rotational sort of noise could be heard in the rear. Happens very lightly without brakes applied, gets louder with brakes, and is downright noisy when brakes are applied at higher speeds -- sounds almost like a jake brake being applied on a big truck.

PA inspection last November revealed "warped rotors" which were replaced by the dealer performing the inspection, as I didn't have/take the time to look into it myself -- now regretting that.

Fast forward to now, we have started using the Element regularly again and the noise is back. At first I thought maybe it was a light rusting on the rotors or something from disuse, but it's getting worse, not better, with more driving.

I replaced the brake fluid and used a vacuum bleeder to bleed the system at all four corners. I noticed I had a bit of difficulty pulling fluid through the right rear caliper compared to the other 3. Either way, fluid change didn't really have an impact except to improve pedal feel.

Pads looked okay; I didn't really do anything to inspect or check the rotors (kinda dumb, I know, but changing pads and bleeding brakes is the extent of my brake knowledge to date).

Suggestions? I'm wondering if I have a stuck caliper (how to verify?), bad brake hose, warped rotor again (but I think that could only have happened so soon again if the caliper was bad?), or some combination. I've also read suggestions that the emergency brake could be causing an issue. I can't recall but the dealer may have tightened it last fall.

I'll take it back to the dealer if warped rotors prove to be the issue, in case the ones they put on are still under a parts warranty, but otherwise I'd like to resolve this myself if possible.

Thanks!
Jeff
 

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Put the car on jack stands and have someone start the engine and put into gear while you are watching and listening to any noises back there.
 

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FWIW - I had two different issues with rear brakes making cyclic/scraping/rubbing noises like that.
One was the thin metal shield on the back side of the hub was bent just enough to catch the rotor on occasion.
The other more serious issue was a frozen rear caliper, which is apparently not uncommon on the E.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've only got two jack stands. Even if I had 4 I can't think of a safe way to get the rear wheels spinning to apply braking so I can observe the noise from outside the car. Plus that whole procedure sounds kind of unsafe?

sacandagadave: I've heard of the thin piece of metal rubbing. I checked and didn't see any sign of that; didn't think to mention it. Plus I don't think it could be this if the noise increases in volume/intensity when I apply the brake, right? Sounding more and more like stuck caliper. Did you just replace yours?
 

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I've only got two jack stands. Even if I had 4 I can't think of a safe way to get the rear wheels spinning to apply braking so I can observe the noise from outside the car. Plus that whole procedure sounds kind of unsafe?

sacandagadave: I've heard of the thin piece of metal rubbing. I checked and didn't see any sign of that; didn't think to mention it. Plus I don't think it could be this if the noise increases in volume/intensity when I apply the brake, right? Sounding more and more like stuck caliper. Did you just replace yours?
Mine was R/R on 6/29/11 with 145,719 on the clock, at 208,000 now.
 

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I've only got two jack stands. Even if I had 4 I can't think of a safe way to get the rear wheels spinning to apply braking so I can observe the noise from outside the car. Plus that whole procedure sounds kind of unsafe?
If you want to test your 4WD, buy two more jack stands. Factory test procedure here.

While the car is on stands, turn each wheel by hand to see if there's a spot where it's more difficult to turn or makes a sound. Remove that wheel and check the backing plate for scrape marks. Also check to see if the pads are worn evenly on both sides of the caliper.
 

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I've only got two jack stands. Even if I had 4 I can't think of a safe way to get the rear wheels spinning to apply braking so I can observe the noise from outside the car. Plus that whole procedure sounds kind of unsafe?
Not everyone has the skills or tools to work on their vehicle safely. You might want to take it to a repair shop.
 

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Like too many problem posts, no resolution was posted.

Even if a caliper is frozen, that would not make it harder to pull fluid from one caliper bleeder valve. That's from a fluid restriction.

Unless a caliper was so full of corrosion that the bleeder was blocked, I would suspect a failing brake hose. A vacuum bleeder could cause a failing hose lining to collapse in the application direction, where it was previously failing in the retraction direction and causing the brake to drag.
 
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