Grinding Noise When Braking – Causes and Fixes

Automobile brakes function like an energy converter. It converts frictional energy to heat through a mechanical system. for a brake to withstand its forces, It has to be of the right thickness and quality.

Hearing strange sounds from cars can be disturbing, and grinding noise when braking can be frightening! Grinding brakes usually sound like a hard metal to metal sound. Sometimes brakes grinding when not applied may send a more serious message.

If you hear this sound, it means your brake pads have worn out to the extent that their metal linings are exposed, and these metal linings are now rubbing against the metal of the brake pads. This doesn’t just expose you to the risk of brake failure on the road, but it may also damage the rest of the braking system, including the rotor and calipers. Although replacing the brake pads is easy, if you don’t do this, it may cause more complicated problems!

What causes grinding noise when braking?

There are several reasons for grinding noise when braking. When it comes to automobiles identifying the cause of a fault or sound is the first step toward solving the problem. Below are common reasons that cause brakes to grind.

worn brake pads grinding noise

  • Worn-out Pads
  • Inferior Pads
  • Solid Objects stuck in the brake system.
  • Shattered shims
  • Driving less frequently
  • Worn-out Rotor Discs
  • Bad Wheel Bearing
  • Unlubricated Caliper Bolts

From the above listed, leaving your vehicle idle can result in rust and corrosion on the rotors. This is often caused by bad weather. Also, a broken shim or worn-out shim can cause grinding noise when braking sometimes because it makes contact with a piece of the braking system. This contact leads to a grinding sound from the brake system.

Lubrication reduces friction, and friction causes wear and tear. Friction is accomplished by sound; unlubricated caliper bolts can also produce grinding noise when braking hard.

If your brake makes a strong grinding sound when braking hard, it may be that the brake disc and caliper are rubbing together. When you stop the car, you usually hear a sound, but you may also feel the brake pedal rumbling when you step on it. The best way to solve this problem is to replace the brake pads immediately, but at this time, you may also need to replace the brake disc and apply lubricant on the bolts.

Brakes Grinding When Stopping

If your brakes were grinding when you tried to pull over or decelerate, the blame should be on the brake pads or shoes. The brake pads should have an optimum thickness to ensure the best performance and braking force. However, after a while, your pads may begin to wear out.

When your brake pad isn’t as thick as the standard pad, it will start to emit a creaking noise when braking at low speed and every time you step foot on the pedals. This type of sound is referred to as brake scrubbing; it’s like an alert that tells you to replace your pads. If this audible warning is ignored, the brake pads may become completely worn out, and the creaking sound may become a grinding sound.

Brakes Grinding While Driving

Suppose your brakes are grinding when you’re driving at a constant speed. This may be caused by rocks and debris between the caliper and the rotor. In this case, you will need to clear the debris from the system immediately. Another reason could be when the brake pad clips are scrubbing on the rotor. Usually, this problem is easy to solve. However, if measures are not taken quickly, the braking system and other performance components may be seriously damaged.

Brakes Grinding When Stopping

Brakes Grinding When Stopping Suddenly

Another common situation where brakes can cause grinding noise is a sudden slam on the brakes. If you step on the brakes in an emergency, you will hear a harsh sound and feel the brake pedal rumbling. However, if your brake pads are thick enough, don’t worry.

 If you hear a grinding sound when you stop suddenly, it may be caused by the anti-lock braking system (ABS). In an emergency stop state, ABS will automatically start to prevent wheel lockup and skidding. The system ensures stability and control by pumping the brakes, which can cause friction and brake pedal rumbling.

 Once the car stops or your foot is stepped off the pedal, the grinding should stop. If your brake pads continue to fray, you will want to arrange for brake pad repair immediately, as this may indicate that the brake pads are worn.

Grinding noise when braking but the pads are fine

While most noises indicate that it’s time to change your brake pads – what will you do if you hear grinding noise when braking but your pads are fine? Also, you may notice new brakes making grinding noise at low speed. Do not panic. New brakes make grinding noise until the brake pads perfectly fit the rotor surface. The following are reasons why your brakes might grind even when your pad is fine.

  • Inferior Brake Pads: Cheap pads wear faster and offer less braking force than higher-quality pads.
  • Faulty Shims: brake pads have shims behind them. On every pad replacement, the shim should also be replaced. The shim is the component that the piston pushes against the pad. Therefore if the shim is old and rusty, it will undoubtedly emit sounds.
  • Loose or Rusted Caliper Bolts
  • Rusted Pads or Rotors
  • Brakes and Rotors Mated Improperly
  • Faulty Wheel Bearings
  • Debris Stuck in Brakes
  • Faulty Self-Adjusting Mechanism

Grinding noise when turning and braking

If you drive and your car starts making grinding sounds while turning, you should suspect three causes; inferior wheel bearings, bad CV joints, or a brake assembly problem.

The Bearing act like a buffer between the axle and the wheel. Therefore, they prevent friction between two moving parts. As a result, worn wheel bearings generate friction, which produces grinding noise when the car is turning.

A little-known fact is that problems with constant velocity joints can cause grinding noise during rotation. Constant velocity joints are components of the driveshaft and play a key role in steering. Another critical source of strange noise may be problems with brake components. The key issue is that the brake cover is loose, the brake caliper and brake pads are worn out, or the rotor is not aligned. In any case, the best way is to check the entire braking system.

Brakes grinding at low speed

If you hear brakes grinding when braking and your car is at a low speed, this might indicate something serious or not at all. For safety, it is advisable to stop the vehicle and check the cause of the noise. The following are things to watch out for because they are most likely the cause of brake grinding at low speed.

Worn out braking pad– graphite, copper, and iron are materials used to manufacture brake pad. as you use the brake pad, this material keeps wearing out until the outer metal cover touches the rotor.

Low-quality pad: If you just had a pad replacement and every reason for pads being worn out is ruled out. Then you might check if you bought the wrong pad.

Worn out rotor disc: the consequence of not changing worn out or fake pad is worn out rotor disc. Your rotor disc is worn out because you might have exposed it to cold water while still hot. Such an act can lead to a surface deflection of the rotor, leading to grinding sounds when braking.

Other reasons include:

  • Solid item stuck up in between the pad and the rotor.
  • Parking the car for too long
  • Unlubricated caliper screws
  • Broken shims

How do you fix grinding brakes?

Several reasons cause grinding brakes, and the most common is worn out or faulty brake pads. Below are procedures for installing a new brake pad; the first step is to keep the required material and tools close by.

grinding noise when braking sometimes

The materials include

  • Mechanic gloves
  • Jack and Jack stand
  • C-clamp or a retract wood.
  • A new brake pads
  • Brake fluids
  • Lug wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Turkey baster
  • Plastic tie

Step 1: Wheel Removal. In other to remove the wheel, lose the nuts on the wheel. Then jack up the car and place the jack under the frame of the car. Lower the jack so that its weight rests on the jack support. Completely remove the lug nuts and remove the wheel. Now you can use the brake assembly and can safely reach under the car.

Step 2: Remove the slider bolt. Locate the pins, also known as slider bolts, that clutch the caliper in position.

Step 3: Pivot the caliper up. Remove the caliper bottom bolt, and swing the caliper upward. At this time, it is very easy to check the thickness of the brake pad to confirm whether it needs to be replaced. Wear indicators are often present in most brake pads, these small metals function by giving off a squeaking sound when it contacts the rotor. Even if they have not touched it yet, if the thickness of the friction material is 1/8 inch or less, the pad needs replacement.

Step 4: Slide out the old brake pads. At this point, you can visibly see the brake pads and the retaining clip holding it loosely. Remove the old pad by sliding it upward and gently.

Step 5: Replace the retaining clips. Most new pads come with clips, allowing the pads to slide back and forth easily. Use the new one and discard the old one. The clip does not have a retaining screw. They just snap into place. There are usually left-handed and right-handed clips, so please change them one at a time to make sure they match exactly when you use them.

Step 6: Slide in the new brake pads. The new pad will slip into place as easily as the old ones when removed. Although sometimes the new clip will be tighter.

Step 7: Retract the pistons. The Pistons’ job is to press on the brake pads and squeeze the rotor to stop the car. Your car may only have one or two pistons per wheel, but the principle is the same. Before lowering the calipers into place, these pistons need to be retracted (pushed back) in order to remove the new thicker brake pads. This section requires steady pressure and patience.

Step 8: Monitor the brake fluid level when. The piston is pushed back, the brake fluid level rises slowly. Open the main tank reservoir and check frequently. This is a bigger problem when you are working on the second brake because the total fluid volume of the two calipers may cause the brake fluid to overflow. There have been cases of overflowing due to topped-up fluid during servicing. (this is the reason you don’t just top-up). The fluid level will naturally drop as the brake pads wear. And it will increase after the pad replacement, provided the level doesn’t drop below the MIN mark.

Step 9: Reposition the caliper. If the piston has been retracted, it becomes very easy to slide in the caliper. Sometimes it doesn’t fit correctly and the caliper will slip over the new pad. Also, if the piston gets trapped on the pad, then you should check if the piston was completely retracted.

Step 10: Reinstall the slider bolt. Fix back and torque down the sliding bolts. Straighten the wheels of the car, and mount the tires. Lastly, ensure you torque down the log nut to the manufacturer’s spec.

Step 11: Carry out these steps on all sides of the wheel. Repeat the above steps for the other side of the front brake. Remember that since you have installed a new brake on one wheel, the amount of brake fluid in the tank will be higher.

Step 12: Test and run the car. Test run the car within short distances to ensure the noise is cleared off. Note that the engagement point of the brake pedal may be higher. You will adapt to this within a short time.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several factors that can cause a grinding noise. If the cost of the grinding noise is not from the brake pads, it can be a result of a defective shim, Unlubricated caliper bolts, or bad wheel bearings. If it happens to be a result of stiff caliper bolts, you can lubricate and fix them right back. If the grinding noise is caused by defective shims, get a new one and replace it. If it happens to be a defective wheel bearing, you’ll have to seek professional advice or our previous post on the Symptoms of a bad wheel bearing and fixes.

Grinding Noise When Braking YouTube 


How much does it cost to fix grinding brakes?

The price of fixing your grinding brake depends on the brand and model of your car. If the issue isn’t that severe, the only thing you need is pad replacement, which has an average cost of $250.00. A large part of this cost is being paid for labor. Another thing you may be asked to replace is the rotor. Brake pads attached themselves to the rotor in the form of a clamp to stop the wheel from spinning. Replacing a rotor is more expensive than fixing a new brake pad. It cost about $406 to $559.

Are grinding brakes dangerous?

You must have heard the word safety. Any act that can’t be performed safely shouldn’t be performed at all—driving a vehicle with a grinding brake isn’t safe. Immediately you notice the sound, stop driving and contact your mechanic. Further driving can cause more damage to the brake disc or drum. Another risk involved is total brake failure. If a mechanical fault causes a grinding brake, continuous driving may cause the brake force to be ineffective, thereby leading to an accident.

How long can you drive with grinding brakes?

It depends on the severity and the intervals between grinding if you notice a grinding sound from your brake pack immediately and check it out. Although it is possible to drive it for a while, this is not advisable because it can make the situation worse and increase the repair cost. Furthermore, driving a grinding brake can affect the entire brake system.

Can grinding brakes catch fire?

A variety of reasons can cause grinding. However, if it involves metals rubbing against each other, causing it to produce heat and sparks, it can catch fire, especially if there is flammable fluid in the car. However, the leading cause of brake catching fire is improper repairs and careless driving.

The following reasons can make a break catch fire: brakes losing their functions, brake fluid boiling in the calipers, and excessive heat in the automobile.

Will the brake fluid stop grinding?

No brake pad won’t stop brake grinding. Brake fluid has nothing in connection to brake grinding. It is a hydraulic fluid for the brake system. Even if the fluid is filthy, it won’t cause the brake to grind. Grinding causes have been mentioned earlier, so don’t let a mechanic talk you into changing your brake fluid because of grinding noise.

Final words:

A grinding break is a course for concern. The brake is an essential component in automobiles and, as such, deserves care. Although there are times when the grinding noise when braking isn’t caused by something serious, every time you hear the sound, you must check for the cause and take the necessary action. A common cause is the worn-out brake pad. This can be easily replaced and doesn’t cause as much as changing the roto or shim. A simple maintenance routine like lubrication, servicing, and prompt actions can save you more.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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