Odd sounds coming from your vehicle indicates a fault within your car. The vehicle is made up of moving parts. It is a harmony of movements and sounds. From the engine roar to the anti-lock brakes sound. You are familiar with all the noises your vehicles make and can tell which one is not normal the minute you hear an unusual sound.
When you begin hearing an out of place grinding noise coming from your vehicle’s brakes, it a clear warning sign that you need to have your vehicle checked. Grinding noises are mostly linked to the rotating systems and rotating parts. Any system or part that rotates could potentially cause grinding. The more it grinds, the bigger the problem gets. A car owner needs to know exactly how the braking system works to understand the problems associated with the brake system.
How the Braking System Works
Most cars have all the four wheels fitted with brakes. They are all operated by the hydraulic system. The brakes on all the four wheels may either be drum-type or disc type. Usually, the front brakes play a major role in stopping a moving vehicle, compared to the rear ones, since braking pushes the vehicle’s weight forward. Many vehicle’s, therefore, have disc brakes at the front since they are more efficient. The rear wheels have drum brakes. Mostly disc braking systems are used on expensive and high-performance vehicles while drum systems are used on a smaller or on older cars.
A hydraulic brake circuit contains fluid-filled master cylinders and slave cylinder linked with pipes. A piston in the master cylinder is depressed when you press the brake pedal, thereby forcing fluid along the pipes. The fluid moves to the slave cylinders on each wheel and replenishes them up, forcing the pistons out to engage the brakes. The pressure of the fluid evenly circulates itself all around the system. The collective pushing area surface of all the slave pistons is way greater than the master cylinder piston. The master piston goes many inches of moving the slave pistons an inch to apply the brakes. This operation enables the tremendous force to be put forth by the brake, similar way the long-handled lever easily lifts a weighty object a short distance.
Most modern vehicles have twin hydraulic circuits fitted, two master cylinders, just in case one fails. One circuit operates the front brakes, and the other the back brakes. Alternatively, each circuit operates both the front brakes and one back brake or all four brakes operated with one circuit, and another the front only. When you brake heavily, the tremendous weight comes off the back wheels causing them to lock, which could result in a dangerous skid. This is the reason why the rear brakes are intentionally made less strong than the front. Cars also have a pressure limiting valve that is load sensitive. It automatically closes when hard breaking increases hydraulic pressure to a level that may result in the rear brake locking. It stops any additional movement of fluid to them. The more advanced vehicles contain complex-anti lock systems that can determine how your vehicle is decelerating or if any of the wheels are locking.
The brake pad’s soft material wears off with time when this happens; steel backing plates get into contact with the disc drums or rotors. Brakes then begin to produce grinding noise when on low speeds or brakes produce a squealing noise when on higher speeds. In these circumstances, braking efficiency is naturally lost, resulting in premature wear to these parts. Besides replacing the pads, you will need to replace the drums or rotors, too, since the backing plate leaves marks of the gouge on the drums/rotor surface. Typically, drums or rotors can last twice the lifespan of the pads. However, if they are gouged, you have to replace them.
Why the Brake Makes Grinding Noises at Low Speed
Worn out Brake Pads
Worn out pads is one of the major reasons why your brake makes grinding noise at low speed or braking. The backing plates lose their material gradually if the brake pads are overused. This results in metal contacting other metal; this impact of the two metals touching will produce a squeaking noise. When the rotor rubs on the caliper and scrapes into its metal surface, further damage, be sure to replace your brake pads immediately. You detect that it’s faulty, or else your braking system will severely be broken. If you let it stay unattended for long, the caliper and the backing plate will ruin each other, leading to grooves and damages.
Low-Quality Brake Pads
Buying low-quality brake pads because they are cheap is no way of saving money. In the long run, cheap is expensive. Poor quality brake pads have chunks of metal that scrape and rub the rotor’s surface, causing excess damage. If you have a faulty brake pad that needs to be replaced, buy good quality from a renowned brand to avoid dealing with repercussions that come with low-quality ones.
This is another reason why brake makes grinding noises when at a low speed or grinding. Worn out or broken shims will get into contact with a braking system component like the rotor. When two metals come in contact with each other, the impact of the two metal together will produce a grinding sound from your braking system. Broken shims are easily neglected; they should be replaced anytime you get done your brake job.
Solid particles between caliper and rotor. When dirt, grime, and dust get caught within the components, friction may be caused by the objects rubbing against each other. Small objects such as rocks from the road can get caught between the rotor and the caliper. The friction from the objects rubbing against each other creates the bringing noise. The friction caused by the objects can damage numerous parts of the brake system.
Not Driving a Car for Too Long
Not driving your car for too long is another reason why your brake makes grinding noises. The lifespan of a brake pad is averagely 20000miles. They may not necessarily last for that long due to other reasons, even if they haven’t gone the full 20000 miles. One of the other likely reasons why your brake pad got worn out prematurely is leaving your vehicle for long periods without taking it for a drive. Bad weather, idleness, and harsh environmental elements may cause rusting and corrosion on the rotors. Rust rapidly spreads to the other components of the braking system and causes wear and tear. Please do not leave your vehicle for too long without driving it.
Worn out Rotor Discs
Faulty rotor discs could also be the reason why your brake is making grinding noises. Squeaking sounds may come from rotor discs that are not flat, while rotor discs that are extremely worn out will produce scraping sound. Worn out rotors will also cause lots of vibration from the brake system. The vibrations come at irregular patterns and can easily be felt via the brake pedal.
Faulty Wheel Bearing
Grinding noises coming from the wheel or vibrations alternating from loud to quiet may be due to the faulty wheel bearing. Do not ignore this warning sign. Have your wheel bearing checked to ascertain the problem.
Unlubricated Caliper Bolts
If caliper bolts lack lubrication, they will produce grinding noise when braking or at a lower speed. A mechanic should replace the caliper bolts to get rid of the annoying grinding noise.
You Don’t Like Your Car
if you don’t maintain your car, it’s going to have problems and this is why your brakes are bad. Your brakes are there to help you when slowing down and if you don’t look after them, then you’re going to have problems with them. If you want to avoid having bad components like the brakes, then you’ll need to maintain them.
If you want to avoid brake problems or other issues and save $100s of dollars that you’ll spend at the auto repair shop, you’ll need to service your vehicle often – you can use our mechanic-rated Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual to do this. It’s basically what mechanics use to go through your vehicle to check if there are any problems that need fixing. As soon as they notice the most minor problem, they’ll ask you to fork out some money even though it’s a problem you can fix yourself in minutes – the manual will teach you how to maintain your vehicle every few thousand miles and it’ll teach you how to fix minor problems that mechanics will ask you to pay for; saving you money in the long run.
A lot of our readers have the Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual printed on their garage wall and 92% of them haven’t visited the auto repair shop in the last year because they know what to do to avoid problems. All it takes is giving your vehicle a little attention every few thousand miles and you’ll never spend money at the workshop again.
How to Fix the Brake Noise Problems
Knowing the causes of the problem may not necessarily pinpoint where the actual problem is. Here are some checks you can perform to give you more clarity.
Find Loose Parts
To find loose parts, the first step you’ll take is to disassemble your vehicle’s front wheels. Afterward, perform this easy check by wiggling the brake pads and rotor, the braking calipers, and the other components of the brake. Wiggling any of these components with just hands shouldn’t be possible. If it is, then it means some of these components may be broken, damaged, missing, or lose bolts and clips; hence the components are loosely secured in place. This could be the cause of the grinding noise. Find the broken pieces, the loose or damaged parts, and fix them immediately.
Apply Dampening Paste
Braking parts excessive vibration causes the grinding noise when braking. After fixing the damaged components and tightening loose bolts, apply dampening paste. This is a highly effective water-based compound used to reduce noises and vibrations produced by the braking parts. Put a thin layer of dampening paste on the braking pad back on the metal area of it, between the caliper piston and braking pad. Allow the dampening paste to dry, give it approximately 2 to 3 hours until it is totally and completely dry before you reassemble the brake unit properly. It should be darker and sticky if it is completely dry.
Inspect Brake Shoes or Brake Pads
Inspect the brake pads for any wears that need fixing and replacement. Worn out brake pads is a common problem among motorists even though the brake pads come with a wearing indicator modeled to create noise when failing. The sizes of brake pads vary, installing one that does not match your vehicle’s size will cause uneven wearing of the brake pad. This is because it will ride the rotor’s edge resulting in braking noise. This is the reason why you may have grinding noise, but the brake pads are perfectly fine. Try sanding down the lip of the pad and make it even, this will discontinue the noise and restore the brake pad life. If a replacement is the only solution, then find the correct size as per your manual guide. New brake pads also tend to make grinding noises until they are in sync with the rotor’s surface.
Check the Brake Rotor
The last step is to check your brake rotor. Changing the brake pads of your vehicle and using your vehicle soon takes a toll on your car and wears it out. A faulty brake rotor can cause a brake pad to wiggle and jump. The surface of the rotor must be smooth. If the wears on your rotor are not too deep, just slight, then you may need to have your rotor smoothened by a machine. Be sure to check the rotor’s thickness before smoother it as it may interfere with the safety of braking. If the wears are in too deep and the thickness of the rotor is uneven, make a replacement immediately.
Note: After braking system maintenance, it is recommended that you inspect the brake lines and the brake oil. Check its level and refill it if it is below the marked level with the manufacturer’s recommended oil.
Not all brake noise signifies problems, sometimes brake pads are designed with a high metallic capacity, specifically for high-performance vehicles. Such pads are highly noisy and will grind at low speeds. Check with your service provider.