How Do Bad Brakes Sound? 10 Types of Brake Noise and What they Mean

Brakes produce various grinding, squeaking, and rattling sounds. These strange noises indicate something is wrong with your brake system. And can affect your brake performance and keep you at risk when driving.

Bad brakes don't just keep you at risk; it also endangers other road users. If your brake sound is causing you concern, seek the help of a professional to help you fix it. Meanwhile, we will help you by explaining some bad brake sounds, and what they mean.

Common Brake Noises: 10 Causes and Solutions

Here are some of the common brake noises and their solutions.

Noise No.1: Squealing Or Squeaking Noise

If your vehicle is making a squealing or squeaking noise, here are the causes and how you can solve them.

1. Squeaking Caused by Worn Brake Pad Material

This type of squeaking sound occurs when the brake pad has worn off, and the metal wear indicator starts rubbing against the brake disc. This causes friction and brake squeal.

Solution: Replace the worn brake pads before it damages the brake rotor.

2. Squeal by Dirty Brakes

Dirts usually get trapped between the disc brake and brake pad in a disc brake system, resulting in uneven braking and squealing. For drum brake users, the problem results from accumulated brake dust within the drums.

Solution: To fix it, let a mechanic inspect the dirty brake and take out any brake dirt and other bodies that may be affecting the brake component.

3. Squeal from Glazed Brake Rotor Or Drum

This results when the brake drum and brake rotor wear off, resulting in a squeaking or squealing noise.

Solution: Hire a mechanic to inspect each disc rotor or drum for signs of damage like heat spots and cracks. To also inform you whether the part requires replacement or resurfacing.

4. Squeaking or Squealing Caused by No Lubrication On The Brakes

This type of noise is familiar with vehicles with rear drum brakes. You will hear a squealing sound when the backing plate and other brake components are not well-lubricated. In the disc brake system, this kind of squeal results from sticky movement on the caliper piston.

Solution: Get a mechanic to lubricate all the essential parts of the brake system. This includes the disc rotors, caliper piston, backing plate, and brake pad contact points.

5. Poor-Quality Friction Material (Brake Lining)

Brake lining that uses poor-quality friction material usually wears down quickly and could cause a loud squealing noise in your brake system.

Solution: Buy high-quality brake pads with friction material from an auto shop and let a professional mechanic fit them in for you.

Noise No. 2: Grinding Noise

Do your brakes make a loud grinding noise? Here is how to get rid of it.

6. Grinding Noise from Worn Brake Pad or Brake Shoe Material

This sort of grinding noise is produced when the brake pad or the brake shoe is worn. The worn-out brake pad results in excessive heat build-up from friction in the brake system. That's because worn parts have the less heat-dissipating ability.

Solution: The solution is to replace brake pads or brake shoes before the wearing off becomes extreme. Also, when buying brake pads, ensure to get quality ones, or they will wear off sooner too.

7. Grinding from Sticking Caliper or Wheel Cylinder

The sticking caliper in a disc brake system can always compress the brake pad against the disc rotor. thus, resulting in brake grinding. A loud grinding sound occurs when the rotor disc is in contact with part of the brake caliper.

The case is different for drum brake vehicle users. A grinding sound occurs when a stuck wheel cylinder jams the brake shoe against the drum continually.

Solution: If you are using a disc brake car, ask a mechanic to detach the caliper and grease its slides. Grease the contact points of the wheel cylinder if you are using a drum brake. If the problem still persists, then the parts might need replacement.

Noise #3: Clattering, Vibrating, Or Rattling Noise

If you hear a clattering, vibrating, or rattling noise when you step on your brake pad, here are the reasons and how you can solve them.

8. Caused by Warped Rotor

If your rotor is warped, then that can be the cause. When a warped rotor makes uneven contact with the brake pad, it causes the pedal to pulsate. Thus producing a thumping, pedal pulsation, or a vibrating steering wheel.

Solution: Get the brake system checked and each drum replaced to remove the thumping or vibrating sound.

9. Results from Incorrect Adjustments Or Missing Brake Hardware

When the brake system components, such as the anti-rattle clip, the brake lining, and the anti-rattle shims are missing or not rightly adjusted.

In some cases a pedal pulsation, a vibrating steering or a jadder could occur by other parts like a wheel bearing or a worn-out ball.

Solution: Get a mechanic to inspect your vehicle's braking system to make sure you are using the right braking components. They will also advise whether you need to replace damaged or missing parts, such as the caliper bracket, anti-rattle clip, the wheel bearing, and other parts

10. Dirty Caliper Slides

Dirty brake caliper slides prevent the proper functioning of brake pads and cause the brake caliper to stick. Thus leading to a clattering or vibrating noise.

Solution: A mechanic should clean the caliper Nx other brake components that require cleaning which might lead to the vibrations or noise.

What Happens If I Neglect Brake Grinding Noise?

The noise produced from your car is both harmful and harmless. But despite being harmless, it doesn't mean you should ignore them. When your car makesnañgrinding noise when braking, it can wear out your brake pedal anytime.

Thus, leading to damaged rotors, caliper and a failing brake. With a faulty brake, you can become a victim of several accidents. That's why you should never ignore a grinding noise from your car.

Visual Clues To Brake Noise Problems

There are some changes that may appear on your brake pad surface that probably give an idea of the reason for the noise in your vehicle. If you "jack up" your car and remove the pads, and take a close look. You will find most of these symptoms, making it easier for you to identify the problem. Here are some clues:

1. Tapered pads

If you find a tampered pad, then the problem is caused by the caliper. It's either the caliper is distorted, there is excessive caliper clearance, or the caliper slides are sticking.

Quick Fix: Replace the pad set and service the caliper.

2. Damaged back plate

Check for a general wear and tear of the brake pads or forceful, incorrect fittings.

Quick Fix: Replace the entire brake pad set.

3. Uneven wear

If you notice an uneven wear and tear on the brake pad surface, it means there's uneven wear on the brake disc. You can even find a wear lip on the brake disc.

4. Uneven wear within the axle

If you notice an uneven wear or tear within the axle set or that it's worn out excessively. It means the guide pin or the caliper piston is sticking.

Quick Fix: Service the caliper slides and pistons, and replace the pads. Inspect the discs.

Damage from the piston

Sometimes, anti-noise features, like the rubber coat or shim, can be damaged by the piston. It occurs when the piston doesn’t fully retract or through heavy brake use and overheating.

Quick Fix: Replace the brake pads set and service the caliper.

How Do You Stop Brakes From Squeaking?

One of the major causes of squeaking brakes is incorrect brake pads and caliper assemblage. Here are some tips for proper assembly.

Strip and clean up the caliper slides and pins.

If heavy rust or pollutants are present, use emery paper to ensure the caliper can slide

Lubricate pins for free movement, or they can seize into the caliper body. Also, check the condition of the slide pin rubber boots if it's in good condition to stop water ingress.

Ensure there is free piston movement, and retract the piston fully. It will help to avoid any damage to the rubber coat or shim.

Check to see if the brake pads fit freely and easily into the caliper brackets.

Remove any burrs from the brake pad edges if need be. Ensure the pad is able to move freely inside the brackets to avoid any uneven wear or squealing.

Lubricate the contact points between the metal back plate and slides with copper grease. Be careful to not let no grease touch the friction materials. Preferably, follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Insert wear indicators in or on the brake pads.

Screw in the caliper fixing bolts.

Replace the thread-lock bolts with new ones.

Follow the correct tightening torque and sequence recommendations.

When the brake caliper is reassembled, pump the brake pedal until the stroke is around one third of the full stroke potential.

Check to ensure the brake is functioning correctly, including the pad retraction.

Reinstall the wheel and check if there is free rotation. The vehicle is ready to go.


How much does a brake job cost?

A brake job cost ranges from $120 and $680 per wheel axle. However, it depends on the item that requires replacement. So, there are possibilities that you can spend less than if the brake job has to do with resurfacing the rotor. Or any other part aside from getting a replacement.

How often should I get my brake pad changed?

On average, your brake system should be inspected at least once in a year and replaced regularly. However, you may require less brake service if you are using a quality brake pad and have good driving habits.

Your brake can last 100,000 miles if you drive on the highway, with minimal braking. And 15,00 miles when you drive in the city with lots of braking. Nonetheless, if you experience vibrations, brake squeaking, and unusual noise, you should get your brakes checked.

Do new brakes squeal?

Yes, new brakes squeak when there is a lack of lubrication on the brake pad and caliper point of contact. New brakes can also squeak when you insert the wrong brakes, or when the brake is not properly fixed.

What causes a grinding noise in the brake system?

A brake system gives a grinding noise when the brake pad is worn out or the life span is exhausted. It can also result when there's moisture on the rotor, which usually appears overnight. However, the moisture usually disappears after you apply the brakes.

Grinding noise also occurs when there are small pebbles caught between the rotor and rotor backing plate. Or when the rotor and the backing plate are in contact after a brake service was carried out or the wheel was just detached from the car.

Why do my brakes squeal first thing in the morning?

The primary reason your brake squeals in the morning is due to moisture on the brake rotors. This type of brake squeals usually stops after applying the brake a couple of times.

Wrap Up!

If you notice bad brake sound emitting from your brake or you notice a change in your brake performance and response. Get a professional mechanic to get it checked.

Driving a car with a bad brake is dangerous to you and your vehicle. And it can even cause more harm to your car if you don't respond fast. Thus costing you more fixing charges than it would.

Rahat Hossain