Why Are My Brakes Making Noise?

February 3rd, 2022 by

Your brakes are probably the most important safety feature of your vehicle. They enable you to slow down and stop your car so that you can avoid getting into an accident. However, your brakes will wear down and become less effective over time. When they go bad, they may show unusual behavior when you step on the brake pedal, such as making annoying noises. Knowing what different brake sounds mean can help you identify potentially dangerous problems and fix them before it’s too late. Let’s take a look at some of the most common brake noises.

Grinding Noise

Inner working mechanisms of a car brake.

If you hear a grinding sound coming from your brakes, it’s usually a sign that your brake pads are worn out and their metal backing plates are rubbing against the brake rotors. When this happens, your brakes won’t be able to function properly, which can increase your stopping distance and make you more accident-prone. If left unattended, this problem can cause damage to your rotors and other components of your braking system.

If your brakes are making a grinding noise, take your car to a service center immediately. Hopefully, you only need to get new brake pads. If your brake rotors are damaged and need to be replaced, you can expect to pay a significantly higher repair bill. The best way to make your rotors last longer is to change your brake pads on a regular basis.

As a general rule of thumb, you should get a brake pad replacement once every 20,000 to 50,000 miles. However, the ideal interval may vary depending on the type of vehicle you own, your driving habits, and your driving environment. If you own a large vehicle or routinely drive in stop-and-go traffic or hilly areas, it’s recommended that you replace your brake pads every 20,000 to 30,000 miles.

Thumping Noise

A thumping noise that originates from the rear of your vehicle may indicate that you have faulty drum brakes. Many vehicles have drum brakes in the rear. In a drum brake system, a shoe presses on the inside of a metal drum to stop the car. It has to follow the groove in the drum with absolute precision to ensure smooth and effective brake operation. If the groove is interrupted, the shoe may snap back and hit the backing plate. This happens very quickly, resulting in a thumping sound that makes you wonder if your vehicle is safe to drive.

If you notice that your front wheels are making a thumping sound, it can mean that your brake rotors are warped or deformed. Rotors can become warped over time because they have to withstand a large amount of heat during the braking process. If it’s indeed true that you have warped rotors, you may also feel your steering wheel shaking when you try to slow down or stop your vehicle. Sometimes, the culprit behind a front-end thumping noise can be a buildup of brake pad material or corrosion on your rotors.

Regardless of where it’s coming from, a thumping sound is a worrisome issue that requires professional attention. If your brake rotors are warped or have an uneven surface, you may be able to restore them to peak condition by having them resurfaced in a machining process at a service center. However, if they’re too badly warped, you may have to get new ones. Similarly, bad drum brakes need to be either resurfaced or replaced, depending on the severity of the damage.

Squeaking or Squealing Noise

One of the most common causes of squeaky brakes is low-quality brake pads. A cheap brake job may sound great when you’re paying for it, but it could come back to haunt you with annoying squeakiness. Poor-quality brake pads are made of a material that has large metal flakes. When you press the brake pedal, one of these flakes may drag along the rotor, creating a squeaking sound. The squeak might go away after that particular metal flake wears away, but another flake can easily start it up again.

A squeaking or squealing noise can also be the result of worn brake pads. Some brake pads have a set of tabs that become exposed when the pad material has worn down to the extent that they need to be replaced. These tabs will rub against the metal surface of the brake rotor and produce a squealing sound that reminds you it’s time for a brake pad replacement. If your brake pads don’t have tabs, a squeak or squeal means that one of your brake pads is completely gone and its backing plate is being pressed against a spinning rotor.

Note that your brakes may also emit a squeaking or squealing sound right after you replace your brake pads. While it may be irritating, the noise isn’t a sign of a problem and usually subsides in a couple of days. Sometimes, new brake pads need to be broken in. Other factors that can contribute to squeaky brakes include dirt and debris on a brake pad, a damaged brake pad backing plate, a bad brake shoe, or weak brake shoe return springs.

With so many possible causes, a squeaking or squealing noise can be difficult to diagnose. In this case, the best thing to do is to have your brakes professionally inspected. If the mechanic finds that you have worn brake pads, you need to replace them with new ones, which is an easy and inexpensive fix. However, make sure the replacement is done with high-quality brake pads or you may start hearing a squeaking noise again before long. If you’re dealing with a damaged brake component, be prepared to dig deeper into your pocket.

If you hear any of these brake noises while you’re driving your Toyota in Tyler, Texas, consider taking your vehicle to Classic Toyota for a brake inspection. With a state-of-the-art auto service facility, factory-certified technicians, and a large inventory of OEM Toyota brake parts, our Tyler dealership has everything it takes to help your car deliver peak braking performance and a safe and confident driving experience. Contact us today to schedule a brake service or repair appointment.


Image by Benjamin Brunner Licensed by Unsplash

Posted in Service