Thumping Noise In My Brakes When I Make a Slow Stop

Reader Question Dear Austin,

Thanks I had been in touch with you with regards to my brake issue. I have learnt to adjust my driving based on my capabilities of my brake.

I was away for 2 months (May, June) — and my 2003 Honda Civic was in my parking lot. When I returned back, everything seems to be fine, but for the last 1 month (July, till now) — whenever I try to stop my car applying brakes, I get a mild repetitive “thud thud thud” noise that slows as the car stops.

I don’t know if it is coming from the front or rear of the card. This happens all the time whenever I apply brakes to stop the car. Could you please throw some insight in this?

The car has 53,000 miles on it right now.


Yo Vic,

This is most likely caused by your front brake rotors are out of round just slightly and need to be resurfaced or replaced. The front brake pads are pulsating in and out because the brake rotor has a small high spot on it causing the brake pads to pulsate. You can probably feel this pulsation in the brake pedal or in the steering wheel as well…usually.

I would inspect the front brake rotors and front brake pads and at least resurface the front brake rotors.

You can rule out the rear brakes as the culprit by stopping the car just using the hand brake. In a deserted parking lot with no other vehicles behind you, at 30 MPH, slowly pull up on the hand brake (hold the release button down with your thumb to make a slow and gradual stop) until the vehicle stops. The hand brake only utilizes the rear brakes so if you do not hear the noise, the problem is likely to be caused by the front brakes.


Austin Davis

Reader Follow Up

Hello Austin,

Thanks for your quick response. Got three questions.

1. What happens if I do not know that the rotors need to be resurfaced, and continue to drive? will it become a bigger problem down the line?
Austin- It will only get worse and might contribute to premature brake pad wear

2. I aligned my wheels when the car had 45,000 miles on Aug 2006. I replaced all tires in Feb 2007, now the car has 55,000 miles on it. Should I need to align it again? How often should I perform wheel alignment as a thumb rule?

Austin – Hard question to answer, personally I do an alignment anytime there are new tires installed…just to make sure an out of aligned vehicle does not void your tire warranty or cause premature tire wear.

Depending on where you live, me in Houston…you could probably get an alignment every month with all our pot holes! Once a year should be fine for the average driver doing 12K miles a year. It won’t hurt to align more often

3. How do I know when to replace shocks and struts? Do they contribute to tread wear?

Austin – They do not contribute to tire wear unless they are bent due to a collision or major impact with a pot hole, when the ride of the vehicle becomes bouncy or you don’t feel the tight response from the steering during cornering or braking, it might be time for replacement.

They are a great sales item… don’t get “sold” into replacing them unless you feel the vehicle RIDE performance is not what it once was. With 55K I would not expect them to need replacement

Not a problem

Posted in: Brakes

3 Comments on "Thumping Noise In My Brakes When I Make a Slow Stop"

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  1. luther says:

    I have resurfaced front rotors and put new pads . 2004 jeep chorkee still maks a constant thumping noise when apply brakes- Could this be a universal joint ot cv axlr ??

    • Austin says:

      If the noise is only there when you apply the brakes, I can only ASSUME you still either have a warped brake rotor which might need to be replaced or you might have a problem with the brake caliper or the mounting pins and small bushings that hold the brake caliper. If the caliper is allowed to slide or rattle around because the mounting pins are worn or the mounting pin bushings are worn out you can hear a thumping noise when you apply the brakes. I would also rule out the possibility of the rear brakes causing the noise.

      In an empty parking lot, slowly pull up on the emergency brake handle with your thumb on and depressing the release button so the emergency brake does not lock. Do this while driving about 25-30 MPH (apply e brake slowly with your foot off the gas to make a slow stop), slowly allowing the brake to stop the vehicle. This will only engage the rear brakes. If you hear the noise or if you feel a pulsating feeling then your rear brake rotors/drums are warped.

  2. KW says:

    A loose lug nut can also cause a thud when you break. You might want to check that as well.

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