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What may feel like a shudder or pulsation, is often the result of sections of the rotor being thinner than others. As the brakes are applied, the pads will be pressed against high and low spots which the driver will feel through the pedal.
A rotor's thickness needs to vary by only a few thousandths of an inch for the driver to feel it. In more serious cases, the whole car can shake when the driver hits the brakes. One cause of distorted rotors is that the brake pads, the friction material that gets pressed against the rotors, aren't being fully released when you remove your foot from the pedal. If the pads "drag" on the rotors too long, the rotor and/or the pads can become damaged.
In older vehicles, rotors could be resurfaced on a brake lathe. However modern vehicles use rotors which are too thin and fragile to utilize this treatment. Therefore, rotors must be replaced more frequently than in previous generations of automobiles