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Brake Noises

Everyone knows brakes are important to your health and safety while driving, but when they start making sounds, it can be either be inconvenient, or just downright dangerous. At Ben Nielsen’s 10th street automotive, our technicians use digital inspections to share a comprehensive overview of your vehicle. This means that if you bring your car in for brake noise, you will see exactly what we see. Here are some common causes of noisy brakes, and how to deal with them.

Brakes work through friction

Brakes are meant to absorb energy from a system and convert it into heat through friction. Essentially, they provide resistance to rotors (attached to the wheels) on a moving vehicle, so they eventually slow down and come to a stop. There are 4 common types of brake systems; drum, anti-lock, emergency and disc brakes. Drum brakes and disc brakes are called service brakes. These make sure that your car stops while driving. anti-lock brakes systems ensure that while brake pressure is applied, your wheels don’t skid (very helpful in inclement weather). Emergency brakes (parking brakes) are a separate brake system that use cables to apply pressure to all four wheels to keep your car stationary.

And the common noises are…

These are the most common noises that cause concern about brakes; Grinding, thumping, squealing, or scraping. While its usually not good to hear sounds from your car that you don’t expect, some noises (like scraping or squealing) sound dramatic, but don’t indicate that your car is in dire shape.

Wear and tear
Reason 1: Extreme wear and tear; If you hear a grinding sound while you are driving. STOP DRIVING. This is usually a sign that your brake pads have worn down to the rotors and the only thing causing braking is metal to metal friction. That is not good. The cost is much higher to replace an entire brake system than simply brake pads, and believe me, you’ll replace the entire system if you allow the grinding to continue for any length of time.

Cheap Brake Pads
Reason 2: Cheap brake pads; if you’re car is making a squealing sound as you brake, there’s a good chance that the brake pads are cheap. Good quality brake pads are smooth. Cheap pads often have a slightly rougher surface with flakes of metal that touch the rotor and make noise as you brake. While this sound can be annoying for varying lengths of time, it doesn’t signify a large problem. All auto repairs at Ben Nielsen’s 10th Street Automotive use OEM or top-grade aftermarket parts to ensure durable, long-lasting results. On the other hand, if the cause is not cheap brakes, it could be from the brake indicator hitting the rotor and indicates that you need to have the brake pads replaced.

Reason 3: Rust or rocks. A third common reason for noises from brakes, such as thumping or squealing, is rust. If your car lives outside, the rotors can rust overnight, and cause a thumping sound in the morning. If you picked up a rock in your brake system, it will cause a very dramatic scraping sound, but doesn’t necessarily indicate that you will need to replace anything

The best way to prevent major problems are to make sure you always have your brakes checked by your mechanic. When you come to 10th Street Automotive with a brake concern, the first step we take is a complete and thorough inspection of your brake system along with a road test to duplicate the condition. If your brakes make any kind of noise, it is usually best to have them checked, even if you think it might not be a major problem. With cars, it is almost always better to be safe than sorry!