“My brakes are noisy”. We do a lot of brake repair here at All Tune and Lube in Tempe we get cars and trucks in all the time with that complaint. Typically it’s really nothing but noisy brakes aren’t something you should ignore and I’ll tell you why.
Brake service is the most common auto repair most shops see. There’s no mystery there, your brake pads and shoes are made in such a way that they wear out over time and we all know that while it’s great to be able to go, it’s vital to be able to stop! So when customer starts hearing noise from their brakes they get concerned right away. A little transient brake noise is perfectly normal. Dust, water, poor quality brake components and poor installation are the usual culprits of brake noise prior to the brakes being worn out. Sometimes even high quality brake components will make noise because of the material they’re made of.
A good shop, like All Tune & lube in Tempe just as an example, will do free brake inspections. They want you to be safe on the road and of course they want the business if your brakes really do need service. Take your car in, explain your problem and have an inspection done. Make sure the shop explains what they found and that they show you any damaged or worn parts before they start the work.
We often get a run of complaints about noisy brakes right after it rains, not something we’re all that used to here in Tempe. The car is inspected, a little dust blown out, maybe clean and adjust the rear drum brakes and the customer returns to the road happy.
Next there’s the situation where the vehicle has a set of economy brake pads installed. Very often there will be plenty of wear left on the pads but they make a lot of noise. You might be able to quiet the brakes down for a bit by scuffing the pads and taking the glaze off the rotors but the noise will usually come back in short order. The only real cure is to have the brake pads replaced with better quality parts. Very often poor quality pads are coupled with poor installation that makes the problem worse so in essence the whole job needs to be done again.
Brake pad material makes a difference too. Organic and ceramic pads are the quietest, semi-metallic and metallic pads less so. There are advantages and disadvantages to each material but that’s for another essay.
Other considerations aside, you can get brake noise even when quality parts are used if the installation wasn’t done properly. Re-surfacing the brake rotors, proper lubrication of the brake pad backing plates and caliper pins and correctly installed brake calipers are vital to the safe and quiet functioning of your brakes.
Then there’s the noises that means you need brakes now. A lot of brake pad manufacturers put a little tab on their pads that is intended to warn you when the pads are getting thin. Usually you’ll hear the squeel when you’re driving and the noise will go away when you apply the brakes. Pretty much a sure sign. The next is a nasty growling or grinding noise you get every time you step on the brakes. Too Late! You need pads and rotors right now! Actually, you needed brakes a while ago!
So the long and the short of it is if your brakes are noisy, take them to a shop you trust and have them inspected. That way you’ll know whether or not you have something to worry about. Once you know your brakes are in good condition you can sleep better and the other folks on the road will be oh so grateful!