Sometimes they are a minor annoyance, sometimes it’s outright embarrassing. We’re talking about noisy brakes.
Most modern brakes are disc brakes. These cast-iron discs are squeezed between two brake pads that provides the level of friction necessary to bring your vehicle to a stop. It’s important to know that you should never expect to have complete silence from your breaks at all times. It’s unfortunately likely not going to happen. In fact, if you have high-performance carbon-metallic brake pads installed, they are actually prone to making noise.
If that noise is too much to bear, you may want to go back to the original equipment pads. Just realize that even with some noise, as long as it’s not due to wear and tear, they should still do the job they are supposed to.
Common causes of brake noise include:
Worn out pads. Brake pads undergo a tremendous amount of stress every time you apply your brakes. If you’re like most people, this stress is happening many times a day, every single day. Over time, the pad will naturally wear down and need to be replaced.
Brake pads come with a built-in wear indicator. In fact, there are different kinds of indicators. A mechanical indicator makes noise to signal that it is time to replace the pads. If you wait too long, you are risking further damage to your vehicle and yourself.
As brakes heat up, they become noisy and less effective. Brake pad-related noise is often caused by the metal content in the pad. To minimize noise from your brake pads, use pads with a high level of organic brake material (Kevlar, resin, rubber, fiber, etc).
Whatever type of brake pad you go with, they are an easy and affordable fix. However, if you let them wear down for too long, you risk damaging the rotor, which is not so cheap.
Pad vibration. If the brake pads are vibrating against the rotor, that may be what is causing the noise. This may happen just before your vehicle comes to a complete stop. There are a few ways to counter this problem. Brake pad vibration damper pads might do the trick, or you could try an anti-squeal compound that comes in a spray or liquid application form.
Brake rotor rust. A layer of surface rust can occur very quickly, since the rotors are exposed to the elements. Many modern wheels are designed in such a way that the vehicle’s rotors are easily visible. While rotor rust can be an eyesore, it doesn’t pose much of a problem.
As mentioned, you can expect some occasional moderate noise from your brakes. However, if you feel it’s something beyond the norm, it’s wise to have your brakes checked.