Your vehicle has many ways of telling you that something is wrong. When it comes to your car’s brake system, most of those indicators revolve around unusual noises. If you hear something out of the ordinary whenever you press the brake pedal, it’s time to stop and take a look. While strange sounds aren’t surefire ways to diagnose your vehicle, they help you narrow down the issue so that you can identify the problem and make repairs faster. Stay on top of brake damage by learning your way around the most common brake sounds and what they mean for your vehicle.
Squealing or squeaking brakes are an unpleasant but common sound to hear while on the road. While there are a few different issues that can cause your brakes to make this noise, there’s a good chance that high-pitched squeal is the result of worn-down brake pads.
Your car’s brake pads safely apply pressure to the rotor and enable your car to slow down and stop whenever you hit the brakes. Over time, the friction and heat wear down the brake pads. When the pads get too thin, the wear indicator will start to hit the rotor every time you hit the brakes. The steel wear indicator screeches against your rotors, causing the squealing sound you hear.
A healthy vehicle runs smoothly from the moment you turn the key to the moment you arrive at your destination. If you notice your car rattling, shaking, and vibrating, it’s a sign that something isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. Rattling or vibrating brakes are often the result of a damaged rotor. Brake rotors can wear down unevenly or warp over time, especially if you have other problems with your engine or braking system. A warped or uneven rotor forces your brake pads to press against a bumpy surface, which in turn sends vibrations throughout your braking system.
Your vehicle can handle its fair share of dirt, dust, and other debris. However, excess debris can cause problems if you’re not careful. When dust builds up in and around your brakes, it can get trapped between the pads and rotors and create a squealing noise. This issue is even more likely if you drive on gravel roads or just haven’t visited a car wash in a while. Fortunately, dusty brakes usually require a simple fix of hosing down your wheels or taking a trip to the car wash.
If rattling or grinding noises happen suddenly, there’s a chance the problem isn’t actually with your brake system. Rocks and other small road debris can make their way into your brakes and create a lot of problems. The good news is that pebbles and other debris tend to shake out after a few miles of driving, so the problem—and the noise—will go away quickly. If it continues, though, be sure to check out your brakes or take your car in for an inspection and repair.
Loose parts are bound to make a lot of noise as they shift and jostle while you drive. If you hear thumping or clicking noises, it might be because parts of your brake system—pads, rotors, calipers, or other small parts—are broken or loose. Damaged or loose parts won’t sit securely in place as you drive. Instead, they’ll rattle around and cause a lot of noise. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s wrong just by a clicking noise, so take the time to inspect your entire brake system so that you can find any and all issues.
Have you ever taken a drive early in the morning only to hear your brakes squeal at every light or stop sign for the first few miles? Squealing, squeaking, and grinding commonly haunt early morning drivers. Unlike other squeals in this guide to common brake sounds and what they mean, this problem likely isn’t permanent. These sounds are the result of moisture gathering around the brakes overnight. An overnight rain shower or early morning dew can cause moisture to accumulate on the brakes and create that unpleasant squealing sound. The noises will fade away after a few miles as your car warms up and shakes off the moisture. Just keep an ear out—if the sound persists, there’s probably a larger issue that you need to check out.
Strange noises aren’t always enough to pinpoint a brake problem. Understanding common brake issues can help you better recognize symptoms and narrow down the problem.
Brake fade is an all-encompassing term for anything that causes your brakes to stop working. If inconsistent braking ability or slower stops accompany the strange noises you hear, brake fade might be to blame. There are a few different causes of brake fade, including an overheated engine or incorrectly installed brake parts. No matter what the cause is, driving with brake fade is dangerous. If you notice odd noises and inconsistent stopping power—even if it only happens occasionally—inspect your brake system right away so you can fix the problem and get back to driving in peace.
Vehicle leaks are never a good sign. When it comes to your brake system, leaking fluid might mean your brakes don’t have enough power to stop your vehicle. Brake fluid creates the hydraulic pressure necessary to push the brake pads against the rotor. If your brakes don’t have enough fluid, there might not be enough pressure to stop your vehicle. Low brake fluid also causes increased friction in your brake system. If you hear excess grinding or squealing sounds and find signs of leaking brake fluid around your car, take your vehicle in to find and repair the source of the leak.
Are loud or obnoxious brake sounds following you wherever you go? Get the parts you need for a quick and reliable repair from Auto Value. Our disc brake pad sets and other brake parts will help you solve the issue so that you can drive smoothly and quietly once again.