Under the Hood
Under the Hood

10 Reasons Your Car Is Making a Grinding Noise When You Brake

by Mike Mavenful about a year ago in fact or fiction

Regular maintenance on your brakes can help to prevent many future issues. If you car is making a grinding noise when you brake, there could be a number of reasons why.

10 Reasons Your Car Is Making a Grinding Noise When You Brake

If you own a car, you are going to have some issues with it eventually. One of the issues that comes up frequently is your car making a grinding noise when you brake. This is a pretty common issue that’s usually attributed to normal wear and tear.

If you are hearing a grinding sound, it’s not just going to go away. The issue you might run into if you leave it unchecked is that it could lead to a significantly worse (and expensive) problem down the road.

There are any number of reasons you car is making a grinding noise when you brake. Some issues could be very minor, while others could be much more serious. Every time you use the brake pedal, it sends the hydraulic fluid to the brake calipers, which applies pressure to the brake rotors. This creates a lot of friction. The pads are only good for so long, and will eventually begin to deteriorate.

You should never ignore faulty brakes, for the simple fact that it is unsafe to drive a vehicle with a braking issue. There are many causes to that grinding noise when you brake, and it’s important to know what the root cause might be so you know whether or not your car is exhibiting signs it is time it needs new brakes.


Source: Unsplash

Roads aren’t known for being the cleanest surfaces out there. In fact, they are a haven for debris left from other cars and the surrounding environment, which can all get between your brake pads and the rotors. This debris can be responsible for hearing that grinding noise when you brake. Debris can also do some extensive damage if you decide to not get your brakes checked.

Worn Brake Pads

One of the most common reasons your car is making a grinding noise when you brake is worn brake pads. When your pads get old, or if you are using low quality brake pads, the material (on the pads) begins to wear. What happens is that the pad surface is ground down until you are left with metal on metal contact with the caliper. This is where you will hear that grinding sound coming from your brakes, and usually needs a pad replacement pretty soon after.

Cheap Brake Pads

Low quality brake pads are another common reason why you might have started hearing that grinding noise. While the low quality pads will definitely save you money in the short term, they are also not manufactured to the same standards as the higher quality pads. The result can be stray pieces of metal left over from the machining process that can scrape the brake rotors. Thinking about safety tips with the holiday season in mind, you may just want to shell out for high quality brake pads.

Bad or Broken Shims

Brake shims are designed to keep the pads from making noise when applied to the rotors. The shims are made of rubber, and are prone to deteriorate over time. Once the rubber has been worn down, they will no longer offer any type of noise reduction, and can be a cause of that sound from your braking system.


Another issue that is often overlooked in routine car maintenance is corrosion. Rain, salt, and debris on the road can all lead to corrosion. Don’t forget, your braking system is composed mostly of metal, which is prone to rust when the conditions are met. The good news is that a simple cleaning of the components of your braking system can be all you need to get rid of that grinding noise, which are among the car maintenance tips every person should know.

Not Driving Often

If your car sits for a long period of time, it can lead to issues. Basically, when your car sits, the metal pieces aren’t moving freely and being actively cleared of brake dust or other debris. This can lead to corrosion, as mentioned above, if your car is not driven regularly. Even if the car is not your main mode of transportation, you need to make sure to drive it frequently, even a short distance, to keep corrosion at bay.

Worn Rotors

Your brake rotors are the discs that are attached to the car that the brake calipers are connected to. The rotor discs are pure metal, which makes them prone to corrosion and becoming worn over time. When the rotors become worn, the metal gets more jagged, which can lead to that annoying grinding noise when you brake.

Bad Wheel Bearing

Another cause of grinding is a bad wheel bearing. This is often accompanied by vibration or shaking coming from the wheel of the car. This can lead to many more issues down the road than just routine brake service. These wheel bearings could cause the wheel to seize up, which can be a fairly costly fix if not attended to quickly.

Caliper Piston

Source: Pixabay

Your caliper pistons are what actually cause the pressure from the pads to the rotors. Debris can get trapped between the pistons and the brake pads themselves, which can easily lead to a grinding noise when you brake. This can happen with newer pads as well if the mechanic did not lubricate the pads when they were installed.

Caliper Bolts

Another part that needs lubrication is the caliper bolts. This is probably the least common of all the causes of grinding noises, but it is still a possibility. Any shop worth their business license should replace these bolts when servicing your brakes.

Regardless of the reasons, hearing a grinding noise when you brake can lead to some serious issues if left unchecked. Your brakes are arguably the most important feature on your car, and, if left in a state of disrepair, can put you in a potentially dangerous situation every time you drive.

fact or fiction
Mike Mavenful
Mike Mavenful
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Mike Mavenful

Baby boomer, Pharmacologist, Movie reviewer and proud grandfather.

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