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Problems with your brakes may first give you a warning you can hear, with noise coming from one or more wheels. Under what driving conditions that noise occurs can help clue you in to what the cause is and whether you can schedule service at a convenient time in the near future or if it is a critical issue.
You may hear a high-pitched squeal as you drive, which means you likely have some time to get the problem corrected. But if you hear a grinding sound – and maybe even feel it through the brake pedal – you’d better get the problem looked at right away.
Of course, driving with bad brakes puts you, your passengers, and others on the road at risk. Get your vehicle inspected as soon as possible and repaired by a professional. Here are some important things to know about noisy brakes.
Know if you are hearing squealing brakes and not “grinding brakes”
It’s important to know the difference between squealing brakes and grinding brakes. Most often, squealing brakes are likely caused by worn brake pads or shoes.
You can tell if you only hear the squealing noise when you are not applying pressure to the brake pedal. When your pads wear thin, they are made to expose small springy steel “wear indicators” that make noise when they contact the rotor. They are designed to be a warning that your brake pads have worn to the point of needing replacement. This is an urgent, although not emergency need, to have inspected at a repair shop. It may seem counter-intuitive, but this noise often disappears or is much quieter under braking.
If the brake pads were installed correctly, with the wear indicator in the proper position, your brakes will function as designed for quite some time. But do not ignore the noise and turn the radio up, hoping it will go away.
On the other hand, a grinding brake noise while braking is nothing to ignore. This sound typically means the system is close to failing, which can cause catastrophic failure to your vehicle. Grinding of the brakes is metal-on-metal friction which will cause damage and ruin your rotors and other components of your braking system. Your braking performance has been drastically reduced, and you could crash your vehicle!
Know driving conditions and the type of brakes on your vehicle
If your brakes slightly squeal, particularly only at certain speeds or coming to a full stop, it does not always mean your brake system has major problems or even wear. Most high-performance brake pads are prone to squealing, trading shorter stopping distances for a little more noise. Ceramic brake pads tend to be quieter than semi-metallic pads. Pay close attention to how your brakes sound under various driving conditions so you can correct a small problem before it becomes a big one.
New Brakes can make noise
New brakes and rotors can produce noise when they are first installed on your vehicle. The new pads themselves can make a squealing noise for the first 25-50 miles, until they are broken in, a process often known as “bedding in.” As we mentioned above, high-performance brake pads can be much louder than normal brakes. Check with the shop that installed the brakes, or if you installed them yourselves, know what kind of brakes you have installed and what to expect.
Your braking system is one of the most important of your vehicle’s components. A little education and care will go a long way to maintaining safety and performance of your vehicle.
About Spirit West Rapid Refinish
Spirit West Rapid Refinish, established in 2011, was formed to focus on providing quality service for customers who are paying out of pocket for automobile repairs and streamline the workflow volume. We take great pride with teamwork and our commitment to making sure our team receives training on the latest innovative state-of-the-art equipment and collision repair techniques. We are proud to say our team is family and we treat our customers like family too. Whether you are in need of minor collision repair services, bumper repair or vehicle paint, give us a call today to see how we can restore your vehicle to its original factory finish.
Spirit West Motor Carriage, founded in 1977, is a full-service auto body repair shop serving the St. Louis and surrounding Metro area. For nearly four decades, our family-owned business and our experienced staff have been providing quality auto collision repair, mechanical, paintless dent repair (PDR), complete paint refinishing, and wheel and framing alignment services.