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9 Causes of Grinding Noise & Vibration when Braking

October 28, 2017 | General Repair Info

Most cars these days have brakes built into each wheel. A hydraulic system is used to manage them. There could be a drum brake or disc brake in the wheel.

When you step on the brake pedal, the front wheel brakes have a bigger role in slowing down the vehicle than rear wheel brakes. The reason for this is that the weight of the car pushes forward when you apply the brakes.

Most vehicles use disc brakes in the front because they have greater efficiency. It is the rear wheels which use drum brakes.

Common Causes of Noise and Vibration when Braking

When you hear an annoying sound after you apply the brake, then there might be a problem. Sometimes it might be nothing and the sound will go away. But if the sound is consistent and does not go away, then you could have brake problems. Below are 9 reasons for why this brake noise would occur.

1) Worn Brake Pads

If you hear a grinding sound after you step on the brake pedal, then it could mean that your brake pads are worn out. As the backing plate loses its material, this causes metal to come together with other metal. Either that or the brake caliper may be making contact with the rotor. Whichever one it is, your brakes could become severely damaged if the pads are not replaced. Your rotor could be destroyed by the backing plate, resulting in damage and grooves. The rotor will then do the same thing to the caliper.

2) Bad Quality Brake Pads

Don’t try to save money by purchasing poor quality brake pads. There are metal chunks in these pads which will scrape against the rotor and cause severe damage. You will save money in the long run by choosing a reputable brand for your brake pads.

3) Shims

Any time you get a brake job done, you must replace the shims. Your mechanic may avoid this if they want to do their job fast, so make sure they do replace them.

Shims that are not replaced soon enough will end up getting worn down. Eventually, the shim will connect with a piece of the braking system, like the rotor. With metal touching other metal like this, you will hear sounds from your braking system as you drive the vehicle. So, make sure you replace the shims.

4) Debris in Brakes

Your brake system could have outside debris that is lodged in it. This debris could be a gravel piece or a rock that gets stuck in the caliper. Then, the debris will rest between the rotor and caliper, and cause noises to occur. You will continue to hear these noises, even if you’re not applying pressure to the brake pedal. Your rotor may get damaged after a while from this too.

5) Don’t Drive That Much

Brake pads will usually last for 20,000 miles or so. But if you start having braking problems sooner, then it could be from leaving your vehicle idle for weeks on end without driving it. If the rotors don’t get to move for too long, then corrosion and rust will form on them. After a while, other components of the braking system will have rust too. Avoid this problem by driving your vehicle at least once every other day.

Read also: 5 Causes of Lower Control Arm Bushing Noise

6) Caliper Piston

When debris or dirt is caught between the brake pads and the piston, sounds can be heard as you apply pressure to the brake pedal. Also, the brake pads’ backside needed to be lubricated when the pads were installed. If they weren’t lubricated, then the metal of the pads and metal of the caliper piston will make come together and make grinding noises. This scenario is less common than the first one.

7) Rotor discs

If you have worn out rotor discs, there will be braking sounds. Rotors that are not flat will create squeaking noises.  If the rotors are too worn out, there will be scraping noises instead. On top of that, worn rotors will create lots of vibrations from the braking system. The vibrations may come at irregular patterns and your foot will be able to feel them through the brake pedal.

8) Caliper Bolts

Caliper bolts must undergo lubrication or else their slides will create sounds if they’re dry. This scenario is less likely to occur, but it could. A reputable auto repair shop will automatically give you new caliper bolts during their repair work.

9) Wheel Bearing

The least likely reason for having brake noises. If grinding sounds can be heard from your wheels or if you experience vibrations which alternate from loud to quiet, then you could have a faulty wheel bearing.

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