Common Brake Noise Diagnosis – When it More Than Just a Squeak
My brakes squeak” is “surely one of the most common complaints about brakes anyone in the motor industry hears. Brake noises can be annoying, but can also alert us of an upcoming danger. It’s best to play it safe and have brake noises checked by a trusted mechanic.
But what if the noise is not a squeak – i.e. – something easily identifiable as a brake issue to have resolved?
AxleAddict has created the top 3 noises to pay attention to when it comes to your brakes:
- Grinding Noise When You Apply Your Brakes
“Hearing a grinding noise when you apply your brakes is really like hitting a rumble strip on the edge of the highway; 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; the pads and rotors are now metal to metal, with no braking material left. Brake pads are like bars of soap. Eventually they get used up, and you have to replace them and spend a little money.
If you don’t, and your brakes get to the point of grinding, just imagine dollar signs rising into the air every time you step on the brake pedal, even just a little. Mechanics have an acronym for this, it’s called CPR (calipers, pads, and rotors). And when you get the bill for your brake job, you will need CPR (cardio-pulmonary rescuscitation).”
If your brakes are grinding, stop driving and call a tow truck. It’s worth it in the long run.
- Thumping Noise From the Rear When Braking
“This brake issue is one that will annoy the hell out of the driver, and suck the life out of the technician. It took me months to figure out what caused this thumping noise in the rear of a vehicle 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 – but the safest and easiest way to remedy this is to bring your vehicle in to a reputable RMI-accredited dealership.
- Squeaking Brakes – the good old trust squeal
A brake squeak can be very annoying, and furthermore might mean something. 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 years of 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.
While the diagnoses of sounds emanating from your brakes can be a little tricky, having them fixed is easy as can be.
Cover Image Credit: Sunday Times Driving