Common Brake Noises: Causes and How to Fix Them – Mr Parts ©
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Common Brake Noises: Causes and How to Fix Them

Posted by Auto Surgeons on

Brake Noise

Chances are you’ve heard a squealing noise while braking at some point in time. More often than not, this bad brake noise is a sign of trouble. However, brake noise comes in different varieties so it is difficult to tell exactly what each noise means.

Brake noise can serve as an indicator that you have a little time left before it’s time for a brake replacement service. It can also mean your brakes have worn down completely and you’re ruining your brake rotors and other brake components. Squeaky brakes are a common automotive nuisance. It's best to play it safe and have brake noises checked by a trusted mechanic. 


Let's make one thing clear right up front: Sometimes your brakes will make noise. If you expect supreme silence, or expect your mechanic to make your brakes totally mute in every circumstance—that just may not be possible.

Common Brake Noises, Their Causes & Solutions

 Noise Possible Cause
Grinding Stop driving! Usually caused by a lack of brake pad.
Thumping from rear Hard to diagnose, but usually the rear drums.
Squeaking Either cheap brake pads or break wear indicator is hitting rotor.
Thumping or squealing If car is parked outdoors, probably caused by rusted rotors.
Scraping You may have picked up a rock.


1. Grinding Noise When You Apply Your Brakes: A Wake-Up Call

if you hear this, you need to wake up and stop driving. A grinding noise on braking is usually caused by a lack of brake pad material (worn out); the pads and rotors are now metal to metal, with no braking material left. If you don't stop, you might have to replace your calipers, pads, and rotors - Very Expensive.

If your brakes are grinding, stop driving and call a tow truck. It’s worth it in the long run. You are supposed to replace the pads so they don’t grind your rotors down to a tissue. If you replace your pads on time you can often keep your rotors.

Don't Go Cheap on Your Rotors and Pads! They Can Save Your Life!


2. Thumping Noise From the Rear When Braking

Many cars have drum brakes in back, where a shoe stops the car by pressing on the inside of a metal drum. Brake drums, like rotors, get resurfaced once in a while. The cutting bit on the brake lathe removes the old braking surface and leaves a nice new mating surface. During this procedure, the cutting bit will create a groove in the brake drum so slight that the naked eye can’t see it; it’s like a groove on a vinyl record that the needle of the record player follows.

When the brake shoes ride on the new surface, they will follow the groove like the needle of your record player follows a track. If the groove is interrupted, the shoes snap back, hitting the backing plate. This phenomenon happens very quickly, causing a thumping noise that will drive you crazy and wondering if your car is falling apart or even safe to drive.

There are several ways to fix this noise. One is to replace the rear drums. A second way, less drastic, is to remove the drums, install them on a lathe, and sand the crap out of the mating surface with coarse sandpaper.


3. "My Brakes Squeak"

A brake squeak can be very annoying. It may be a sign of danger of some kind, or it may just be a sign of cheap brake pads.

The most common brake squeak is caused by inferior pads. A cheap brake job sounds good when you’re paying for it, but it may come with painfully annoying brake squeaks. Cheap brake pads have large metal flakes in the brake material, and when you press the brakes lightly and a flake drags along the rotor, it will squeak. The squeak may go away when that particular flake wears away, but usually there is another metal flake right behind it. The best way to avoid this type of noise is to choose quality brake pads.

If your brakes are squeaking or squealing while driving down the road, but the noise goes away when you press on the brakes, your brake wear indicator is hitting the rotor and causing the noise. The wear indicator is a small metal tab fastened to the brake pad. When the brake pads are worn down and need replacing, this metal tab starts to drag along the rotor, warning the driver of the potential problem. Don’t ignore the noise too long; the brake pads are thin and need servicing very soon, for safety and to protect the other parts of the braking system.


4. Thumping or Squealing Caused by Rotors Rusting Overnight

Many brake pad compositions will make a swishing or grinding noise for the first few stops in the morning until the pads warm up and drive off any moisture they've accumulated overnight. Ever notice a hissing or grinding noise on some rainy or dewy mornings? It's the pads sweeping a thin film of rust that's formed on the iron discs, and it's perfectly normal


5. You may have picked up a rock.

If your vehicle makes a scraping noise, while driving or when turning a corner, that sounds like something being dragged across a tin plate, it's possible you have picked up a rock from a dirt road or from a freshly repaired pothole: the kind of place where you hear a shower of pebbles hitting the bottom of your car as you drive through. There’s a good possibility that a rock has gotten lodged between the rotor and the backing plate, making an awful noise that is causing your ears to bleed. Just have the rock removed and be on your way. Or sometimes the backing plate behind the rotor gets bent while the car is being worked on, and it scrapes against the rotor.

We sincerely hope that all the information here will help diagnose that noise that seems to be coming from your brakes.



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(Credit to: - Eddie Carrara, - Mike Allen)

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  • Common Brake Noises: Causes and How to Fix Them – Mr Parts ©

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  • Common Brake Noises: Causes and How to Fix Them – Mr Parts ©

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  • Whether your brakes are squeaking, thumping, grinding or scraping, put your safety first and get it checked by a mechanic. I have a similar post on my blog too but even then I would recommend you see your mechanic if you have any concern.

    Peter Eacott on

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