Reader Question: The brakes on my car are very noisy sometimes when I come to a final stop. They don’t make noise all the time, but when they do it is very embarrassing.
I have taken it to my mechanic twice for this problem but he says its normal. I am not really sure which brakes are the culprit, front or rear, how do I tell?
I can feel your pain! The brakes on my 2005 Ford F150 pickup truck will make a high pitched squeal every once in a while and it drives me crazy as well.
The noise is usually caused by:
1. a vibration on the brake pad due to a broken anti-rattle clip on the brake caliper
2. the material in the brake pad itself is causing the noise
3. the brake rotor (the part the brake pad grabs to stop the vehicle) is not smooth anymore and is causing the brake pad to vibrate and make the noise.
In most cases that I see, the brake noise is caused by the brake pad itself and replacing the brake pads and resurfacing the brake rotor is the cure.
Cheap brake pads can be a major cause of brake noise, so if you drive an Asian or European vehicle – Honda, Toyota, Kia, BMW etc. etc. etc. I usually try to install brake pads purchased from the dealership.
I have had fewer noise complaints with OEM – manufacturer brake pads than with off brand cheaper brake pads you can buy at your local auto parts store.
For some reason U.S. made vehicles are more tolerant of cheaper brand name brake pads than the Asian and European vehicles are.
Usually the softer the brake material the less likely they are to make a noise. Some after market brake manufacturers offer “noise reducing” brake pads, some seem to help, some don’t seem to make a difference at all…..you just gotta try a set and see how they work on your vehicle.
You should also use a silicone “desqueek” product on the back of your brake pads to help reduce the chance of vibration/noise. Sometimes this silicone is included with the new brake pads, sometimes you have to buy it seperately.
It is always a good idea to resurface the brake rotors when you install new brake pads. The rotor is what the brake pad grabs to stop the vehicle. Resurfacing, or “truing” the brake rotors will ensure the brake pad has a nice smooth even surface to grab on to. A brake rotor that is un-even or “warped” will cause the steering wheel to shake when you step on the brake.
The easiest way to determine where the brake noise is coming from is to make a few slow stops in a vacant parking lot using the emergency brake only. Pull and hold on to the emergency release cable AS you slowly apply the emergency brake.
This will only use the rear brakes to stop the vehicle. If the noise is present using the emergency brake, your rear brakes are causing the noise.