Road safety is a prime concern for all automobile owners. If you have ever owned a vehicle, you know that issues are inevitable. Maybe you’re on a road trip, and the tire bursts or needs maintenance and servicing. Every vehicle has many moving parts, so keeping your car or truck maintained should be a priority.
Some problems should never be ignored, such as weird squeaky noises coming from the brakes. Although it is a frequent car issue, if left ignored and unchecked, it could lead to a worse situation. Consider the following questions:
- Do your car brakes make strange noises?
- Do you ignore such noises?
If you answered yes to both, then you could be in trouble. Neglecting your vehicle’s ‘cries for help’ might cost you more than you can imagine.
How Do Car Brakes Work?
To properly diagnose the problems that arise from noisy car brakes, one must understand the basics of how a car brake works.
When you press down on your brake pedals, what you are actually doing is initiating a sequence of mechanical actions that cause friction between your wheels and the ground. The pedals are connected to a lever that pushes a piston into the master cylinder filled with hydraulic fluid. This acts to compress the fluid, which builds up pressure within the brake system. That pressure is then transferred to the wheels via a system of pipes and secondary cylinders. The end result is a reactionary force in which amplifies the weight of your foot on the pedals, enough power to stop a car in its tracks.
The brakes on your car are usually one of two kinds: disc brakes or drum brakes. Contemporary car models commonly have disc brakes on the front wheels and drum brakes on the rear wheels. Premium models may be designed to have disc brakes on all four wheels.
Disc brakes include a brake disc, a brake caliper, and a brake pad. When the pedal descends, the hydraulic fluid causes the brake caliper to press the brake pad against the brake disc. Friction is created when the brake pad comes into contact with the brake disc. Friction is the process in which converts kinetic energy (the movement of the car) into heat and thereby stopping the car.
Drum brakes achieve friction using a different set of mechanics. The main parts are the brake drum and brake shoes. The hollow drum rotates with the wheel. As your foot is placed on the brake pedal, a hydraulic cylinder knocks the brake shoes against the inner surface of the drum, generating friction.
Five Reasons Your Car Makes Noises When Braking
There are several reasons why your car brake is making noises. No matter what the situation may be, never ignore the grinding noises from your car brakes. Here are five reasons for brake noise.
Credit: Troy Sankay
Low Quality of Brake Pads
Your car brakes could be making strange noises due to low quality brake pads. Some may opt to install cheaper products to save money. What they are unaware of is the high risk it may impose on the driver and their passengers.
Low quality brake pads are not worth it. They do not meet the road safety standards and even have metal chunks within it. These metal chunks dent and, in some cases, penetrate the rotor’s surface, resulting in significant damage.
If you’re planning to buy low price brake pads or have already done so, replace them as soon as possible to avoid becoming a hazard on the roads.
Car brakes are made up of metal. They’re vulnerable to acid rain, road debris, rainwater, and salt that ultimately lead to corrosion. Shockingly, a trip to the seaside or a spell of rainfall can damage your car brakes.
Whether you live in a coastal area or inland, you must remember to clean your car brakes after heavy rainfalls or trips to the shoreline. For extra security, even take your car for servicing.
No Lubricating Substance Used on Brake Pads
The brake pads need to be highly lubricated, so fiction can quickly be produced and prevent annoying sounds. By using the stuck brake caliper tube, brakes can be easily lubricated. However, many mechanics skip this step because they think it won’t make any difference, but it does.
Skipping this step means that the metal of the caliper piston and pads will come in close contact and result in unwanted sounds. Always double check to ensure your mechanic is using a lubricating substance as they service your car.
Damaged Wheel Bearing
Sometimes, noises from car brakes could be caused by faulty wheel bearings. When wheel bearings become worn out, it produces loud noises. Hence, check them out and get them replaced when necessary.
Worn Out Brake Shims
Worn out brake shims is also a leading cause of noisy car brakes. Brake shims are rubber-like materials applied on rotors to stop the pads from making any noises. Brake shims are made up of rubber, and eventually, wear out over time. When these rubbers are damaged, they fail to reduce brake noises. If you drive more than 2-3 hours per day, then your brake shims should be checked regularly; and if there’s an issue, do not hesitate to replace them.
Brakes are an integral part of your vehicle and road safety. Neglecting any issue related to brakes can lead to adverse effects. There are different reasons for brake noises. No matter what the reason might be, the outcome is the same. So if you hear any noise from your car brakes, don’t ignore it! Get your car to a mechanic and get the issue resolved immediately.
Simon Adams graduated with an Electrical and Electronic Engineering Degree and has been working with cars for over 20 years. He has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is, from sputtering engine, bad brakes, and shaky steering wheels, to overheating, and more. Currently, he works as a freelance writer specializing in automotive technology.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.