Thumping Noise In My Brakes When I Stop

thumping noise in brakes when stopping
Dear Austin,

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

I was away for 2 months (May, June) — and my 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.

Please share this with your friends,

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…so 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

Think you have warped brake rotors on your car? Watch my short video on what to do next

Not a problem

Posted in: Brakes

11 Comments on "Thumping Noise In My Brakes When I Stop"

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  1. Shelly says:

    And the results of driving with thumping after having my breaks done and thinking its normal and not checking the lug nuts …. 3 loose lug nuts is what I found and And now I have thumping …Not all the time though but most and only when I’m stopping it’s the front for sure I drive a Chrysler Pacifica

    My advice jack your shit up and take a look just because it new or was just done don’t mean it’s right… I a girl had to watch a YouTube video on how to do this just to find 3 of my 5 lug nuts barely attached I drove down highways Jeez

  2. Laurie says:

    So thankful I came across this post today. I took my 2006 Buick Terraza to get new brake pads and resurface rotors today (front and rear) and when I picked up the car it now has this thumping sound everyone is talking about in this post. The thumping sound was not present when I brought the car in and Firestone chose not to test drive it before replacing pads, etc. Firestone can’t figure out what is wrong. Taking it back a second time for the 2nd assistant manager to test drive the car. And to top it off now the engine light is on (wasn’t on before). My car has 93,000 miles on it and this is the second time I have replaced the front pads and had the rotors resurfaced. My rear brakes still had 30% left (but I went ahead and had them redone as they had not been replaced yet and considering how many miles on my vehicle). Firestone has kept my ticket open and wants to fix the problem. But I already paid the money. I am going to print all these comments and suggests and bring it with me to Firestone.

    • Austin Davis says:

      It is probably an issue with either the brake rotors not being trued correctly and there is a high spot still left on them that needs to be shave off or a caliper mounting pin needs to be lubed so the caliper slides in and out easier….and without causing a noise. They need to re-inspect their brake job work. New rotors are probably not that expensive, and maybe what is needed to stop the noise.

  3. Juanita says:

    Had my mechanic do a brake job on my Honda a week ago, then the noise started a day or two after that. Took it back to him and told him what you said on your site. He said the rotors were not the problem since he replaced them but at my insistence he resurfaced them and the noise went away. Thank you Austin!

    • By Austin Davis says:

      Great! yes, just because a part is “new’ you cant assume it is perfect or there can’t be a problem with it.

  4. Barry says:

    Thanks, I had my mechanic re machine my brake rotors and it took care of the noise.

  5. Christina says:

    Hi Austin,

    I’d like to ask a follow up question. On my ’96 Chrysler Sebring, the front rotors and break pads were just replaced (my dad and his friend did them). Immediately after that, I started hearing the same thumping sound whenever I braked. They checked to make sure everything was on correct.

    Is it possible (likely) for the new rotors to be warped? Or do you think it’s more likely we messed up the caliper while changing the brakes?

    Thank You!

    • By Austin Davis says:

      Hi there, happy Thanksgiving!

      I would make sure you are working on the problem brakes first…front or rear?

      To help isolate this, drive in a parking lot about 25-mph then lightly and slowly lift up on the parking brake with the release button pushed in so the brake does not lock. (if you have a foot pedal brake, pull on the release handle as you slowly push down on the emergency brake) and listen for your noise.

      if you hear the noise during this, then the problem is with the rear brakes since the emergency brake only works on the rear. So, I would replace or resurface the rear brake rotors, replace the pads and make sure the caliper pins are lubricated and sliding easily and all anti rattle clips are in place. if you have rear brake drums, not rotors but you still hear the noise with emergency brake. I would turn the rear drums, and replace the shoes and make sure the return springs are in place properly.

      if you don’t hear the noise with emergency brake, then most likely is the front brakes causing the noise. Make sure the caliper pins are lubricated and are sliding easily, all anti rattle clips are in place and the brake pads fit snugly on the calipers. its rare but I have seen a new rotor that needed to be machined, probably dropped in transportation or something. worst case scenario is to replace the front calipers, which you can buy rebuilt from your local auto parts store pretty cheaply.

      The thumping noise is the brake pads moving within the caliper. Replacing the rotors usually solves it unless the caliper is loose or the mounting pins are not moving back and forth freely and evenly.

  6. 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.

  7. 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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