Brakes Making a Noise

Reader Question
I have a 1998 Oldsmobile Achieva with 122K miles on it. Since last fall it has been one thing after another.

My question now is that my low trac light is coming on intermittently. Occasionally when I press down hard on the brakes they will make a squishing sound. This is not every time but enough that I have noticed it. I have taken this to my mechanic, and he has tested the front brakes and has told me that I do not need new brakes.

Another issue is two or three time over the last six to nine months my ETS off light will come on and the same time the abs brake light will come on.

If I turn the car off and then turn it back on, it clears and may not happen again for several months. This happened about five months ago and then happened again yesterday.

I am a female with limited knowledge on car repairs and have been scammed by a major name company and now have found a local mechanic that seems to do a good job and I think is honest. However, he can’t find the brake problem.

Any assistance will help since I need to keep this car a few more years.
Marsha G


Hello Marsha,

Thanks for your email. I am not real fond of the Achieva. I rarely see them with more than 125K miles, and probably for good reason. They were not made with the highest quality in mind. Sorry, to talk about your car that way…just wanted to let you know the vehicle does not have a very strong maintenance record.

If you are at all thinking of getting a new car and taking advantage of the low interest rates and the fairly low prices the manufacturers are advertising due to the slow down in new car buying…I would consider making the purchase now.

I would HIGHLY recommend you take a test drive of the new 2006 Kia Rio, this is a great car, very economical, fun to drive and priced right…and comes with an awesome warranty. Seriously, go and take a test drive, get them to give you a trade in value for your car and look on the Internet and newspaper for similar vehicles in your area for competitive pricing.

2006 Kia Rio my recent review

The brake noise you are hearing is probably normal. I really need to hear it to be for sure, but if you make a hard panic stop or push on the brake pedal of most vehicles you will hear a hissing or swishing noise. This is coming from the vacuum operated power brake booster. As long as you do not hear this hissing noise when you are NOT pushing on the brake, and the brake pedal feels ok to you, I would not be concerned.

The other intermittent lights you mentioned….that could be anything, a loose connection at a sensor, a bad ABS sensor itself or a computer problem. It will require some testing and probably require the light to be on at the time of testing to accurately diagnose the problem. As long as they are not on all the time, and thing seem to feel ok, I would not be to concerned.

When the ABS light is on, the ABS system is disengaged. So it would be advisable to have it repaired rather than just driving around with the ABS light on and this safety feature turned off.

Please share this with your friends,

Austin C. Davis

Posted in: Brakes

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