Your brakes are your car’s best friend. Besides bringing you to those leisurely stops at traffic lights, they’re there when the neighbor’s dog darts in front of your bumper, or when that guy on his cell phone backs out in front of you in the parking lot. They’re also one of the only parts of your car that tell you when they need attention, and especially after the damage this winter may have done, you need to learn to speak brakes.
If your brakes are making an unusual sound, chances are they’re squealing. Besides being the most common brake noise, it’s also one of the least troubling. That’s not to say it isn’t important. Some brakes have wear indicators built in and when it’s time to replace your brake pads, you’ll hear that squeak. Other common causes include environmental moisture and debris. If the squeaking persists, or gets louder, it’s time to get your brakes checked.
Another common sound is a rhythmic thumping. While not an immediate danger, thumping in your brakes can mean warped brake rotors, a problem that can worsen over time. It’s often a quick fix: We just have to resurface or replace your rotors and voila, no more thumping.
Easily the most troubling sound your brakes can make is a metal-on-metal grinding sound. This is a serious problem and you should bring your car in immediately for service. Likely caused by the rotor making contact with the caliper, this indicates extreme wear. This wear damages not just your pads, but the whole brake system. There’s also the chance that a rock or other piece of debris has become lodged in your brakes. Either way, grinding is cause for immediate concern.
A final note: No matter how silly you might feel, it really will help if you can give us an idea of the noise your brakes are making. We know it feels kind of weird standing there and squeaking, but it’ll help us narrow down the potential issues causing your brake trouble.