Car Issues and Fixes

Grinding Noise When Braking: Possible Causes

Avatar Adie Tinkle -

Brakes are undoubtedly one of the most integral parts of any vehicle. However, sometimes, your vehicle starts to make grinding noise when braking. This sound occurs when the caliper and brake disc come together, and you hear the grinding as soon as you step on the brake pedal. 

It is a warning sign that something is not right with the brakes or the rotors. Many car owners like to ignore such sounds.  However, giving immediate attention to this issue is preferable as it can lead to more significant problems and costly repairs. 

When Does the Grinding Sound Occur

You can hear grinding noise when braking in the following situations: 

  1. Lack of Thickness in Your Brake Pads 

If you observe that the brakes are grinding when you slow down, the culprit might be a lack of thickness in your brake pads. It is important for the brake pads to be thick enough to provide adequate performance and halting power. 

The brake pads wear out eventually over time, and when they are thinner than the required thickness, they begin to screech every time you press the brake pedal. This uncomfortable sound, also known as brake scrubbing, indicates the need to upgrade your brake pads.

The brake pads are worn out if your brakes make a sharp grinding noise when braking and the brake disc and caliper are scratching together. You can hear this sound when your vehicle comes to a complete stop and as you step on the brake pedal. 

The easiest way to resolve this issue is to replace your brake pads. However, you might also need to replace both discs and rotors. 

  1. Grinding Noise When You Apply Brakes Suddenly 

Another common reason behind grinding noise when braking is when you slam the brake suddenly. Hitting the brake suddenly can cause grinding noise, and you feel the brake pedal rattle.  However, you do not need to replace the brake pads if they are significantly thick. 

Your anti-lock braking system (ABS) typically causes grinding when braking. In a panic situation, the lock stops the wheel automatically, and your car skittles. 

  1. Brake Grinding When You are Driving 

If you hear your brakes grinding when driving at a steady speed, it might be due to rocks or pebbles lodged between the rotor and the caliper. In this scenario, you will have to remove debris from the system. Not taking immediate action can cause severe damage to the brake pedal and other components. You can remove the rocks or particles on your own or get professional assistance.

If you inspect any issues with brakes, it is preferable to get your vehicle checked once. 

Reasons Why Your Brakes Make Grinding Noise 

Here are some of the reasons why your brake pedals make a grinding noise: 

Your Brake Pedals are Damaged. 

Worn-out brake pads are one of the most common causes of grinding noise when braking. They usually have a perfect metal, copper, brass, and graphite blend. However, because of extensive use, the brake pads can wear down, and the metal backing plate underneath the pads will rub against the brake rotor. Before any grinding sounds, your brake pads can make continuous squeaking noises. 

Not replacing your brake pads can increase the squeaking sound, which eventually will become a grinding sound. If your brakes are noisy but working effectively, dirt or alloying elements can cause the noise. 

The brake pads have a long lifespan, but you might need to replace them after 25,000 to 60,000 miles. 

Your Brake Rotor Needs Replacement

Your brake rotors are flat metal disc brake pads that press against each other to slow your vehicle down. As they are in contact with the ground, water and dirt enter, causing a rusted or contorted rotor. A non-flat brake rotor disc can lead to squeaky brakes. On the other hand, a worn-out rotor disc can cause a shriek felt through your steering column. 

There are multiple sounds that you can feel through the brake pedal, causing you to notice a worn-out rotor when you brake. 

Your Vehicle Might Have Faulty Wheel Bearings 

The wheel bearings assist your tires to spin indefinitely without excessive heat. When one or more bearings wear out, the debris gets inside, and you can hear a grinding noise from your wheel bearings. 

Signs of bad wheel bearings include 

  • High-intensity vibrations in the steering wheel 
  • Uneven wear on your tires 

The Braking System Needs Lubrication 

The braking system can be complex, with various components working together. The brake parts require lubrication to keep operating efficiently. The caliper bolts can cause a grinding noise from your car’s brakes without proper lubrication. 

The caliper bolts allow the brake calipers to stay securely in place. With time, the caliper begins to rust, causing grinding sounds. You can extend the lifespan of your caliper bolts by oiling them once a month. However, caliper bolts are cheap to replace, requiring only about $10 to $20 labor. 

Low-Quality Brake Pads 

Even though you can get low-quality brakes for a lower price, they can lead to more frequent repairs and increase wear and tear on other brake parts. Because of the higher metal concentration, they make grinding and scraping noises when braking. 

Your Brake Caliper has Dust and Debris Present. 

A continuous grinding and screeching noise can also indicate an object, such as a small stone. A piece indicates that something, including a small stone, has been lodged in your brake caliper. Foreign objects in your brake system can also damage your brake disc considerably. You can remove it by moving your vehicle back and forth or by fishing out the object. If doing that does not work, you will have to take the assistance of a professional. 

Not Driving Your Car Often 

If you have not driven your vehicle for months, rust can collect, causing the brake to make noise. If your car has been idle for a long time, it is preferable to check the brake fluid, battery life, brake noise, tires, etc. This is because rust and corrosion can start to occur during idling time and might even spread to other parts. It is preferable to drive your vehicle at least once a month to avoid major problems from occurring.  


Are Grinding Noises Coming from Braking Systems Dangerous?

Your brakes are one of the most important safety features in your vehicle. Therefore, if you notice warning signs such as squeaky or grinding noises when driving, it’s time to get a professional to check your car. Otherwise, you can put your and others’ lives in danger. 

Can ABS be the Cause Behind the Grinding Noise?

The ABS can produce a buzzing or grinding sound, and you can feel minor vibration in certain automobiles. When you feel pulsation or hear noises, it is preferable to maintain your foot on the brake pedal to keep the pressure on the brake pedal.

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