What’s that noise?
Maybe it’s a squeaking sound. Or maybe something is rattling.
You’d be surprised at the way people describe what’s happening inside their cars.
And we get it, It can be difficult to determine where a noise is coming from, and if it’s something to worry about.
Like most noises your vehicle can make, brake noises are designed to attract attention. While every system on your car is important, driving without a fully operational brake system could be dangerous at best.
But can you recognize bad noises from ones that aren’t of concern? Is that squeak trying to tell you something?
Not all brake noises are bad
Let’s clear this up before we move forward. When you get in your vehicle in the morning and drive away from your home, your brakes may occasionally have a squeak or a squeal.
Not all brake noises are bad.
The important thing here is to pay attention to when the noise occurs, where it’s coming from, and how long it lasts.
There are a few situations where brakes can cause a few noises, and that’s perfectly okay.
If it’s cold outside, it’s been snowing out, and there might be ice or snow on your brake pads or rotors, as the two connect as you first drive, they might squeak. As brake pads connect with the rotors, they start generating heat. Once the ice melts away, and the brake system heats up, the parts will resume, and function. The squeaking will disappear.
That’s not the only circumstance that can cause a sudden noise. Here in Denver, many of us head to the hills for a day of skiing. As you’re flying down the mountain on your drive home, your brakes may start to squeak. It could be from excessive heat. Are you riding the brakes as you come down in elevation? If the brake pads continually press up against the rotors, excessive heat builds. Eventually, the friction can start creating a noise. It may also lead to a temporary reduction in braking power, known as brake fade. If you notice this happening, pull over to a safe spot for five to ten minutes and give your brakes a chance to cool down. Learn to downshift as you descend in elevation, that can take the pressure off of your brakes.
Have you recently installed new brake pads? This can be especially annoying, knowing you’ve recently spent money on replacing your brakes. What is that brake noise? It may just be your brakes settling in. There are three different types of brake pads: ceramic, metallic, and organic. While you might not know which type you have before, it’s important to know that they each handle differently in unique situations. Metallic brake pads, for example, are performance-driven. They operate better in a wide range of conditions, making them preferable for some drivers. But when they’re brand new, metal can be especially noisy as they settle in. If you ever have any questions about performance, especially if they are brand new, we’re happy to check them.
Brake pads can also make noise if they’re dirty, and have dust buildup on the pads. Do you drive on dirt roads often? Do you clean your wheels equally as often? If you have any concerns about how your driving may impact the way the brakes work, give us a call.
What about other brake noises?
We’ve covered a few of the areas where brake noise may not be of concern. But it’s important to note that if you hear your brakes, if they make noises regularly, you’re better off getting it checked than putting it off.
If a noise doesn’t go away a few miles after you start driving, it’s time to check it out.
Grinding noises – One of the most common brake noises is a grinding noise when you apply the brakes. It kind of sounds like hitting a pavement strip when you’re driving down the highway. That grinding sound is a wake-up call, telling you the brake pad is reaching the end of its lifespan. It’s where the metal at the end of the brake pad is connecting with the metal rotor. If there’s no braking material left, you won’t be able to stop effectively.
If you continue driving this way, you risk further damage. Metal on metal can only occur for so long before both sides start wearing down. And replacing brake pads and brake rotors is far more expensive than brake pads alone. Full brake jobs include replacing calipers, pads, and rotors. If you hear that grinding noise, it’s best to drive in and have them replaced as quickly as possible.
Squeaking noise – A squeaking noise can be especially annoying. It’s designed that way to keep you safe. It may or may not be a sign of a bigger problem, but it is designed to get your attention.
It could be something as easy as telling you cheap, inferior brakes were installed on your vehicle. If they aren’t making a proper connection within the system, it could be a way of telling you something is wrong. Inferior products are the number one reason for squealing brakes. If they aren’t made from high quality products, large metal flakes can pull off and drag across the rotor as the pad makes connection. These pieces will flake away, but eventually, there will be another right behind it.
If the squeal gets more intense and never seems to go away, it’s probably worn out brake pads, where a small wear indicator is hitting the rotor. This wear indicator is placed into the pad as a warning sign. It’s designed to tell you your brake pads are worn. Don’t ignore this sound for too long; it is designed to tell you it’s time to replace your brake pads, before more damage can be done.
Are your brakes making noise?
If so, don’t ignore them. The noise will grow, the problem won’t go away. And you’re putting you, your family, and everyone on the road at risk.
Before the snow starts falling and you need your brakes in all kinds of situations, pull your car into our station and we’ll get to the root of the problem.
We’ll get you back on the streets in no time.