NuBrakes Blog Brakes Grinding: 7 Common Reasons and How to Fix Image

Brakes Grinding: 7 Common Reasons and How to Fix

Brake grinding is a sound that occurs when the caliper and brake disc come together while braking. The brake grinding sound usually happens as you step on the brake pedal.

Brake grinding is a common issue many drivers face at some point in their driving experience. It can be a cause for concern as it not only affects the performance of your vehicle but it can also be a safety hazard.

When you apply the brakes, the grinding sound usually indicates something is wrong with your braking system. 


Key Takeaways

  • Brake grinding can occur for various reasons, such as worn-out brake pads, faulty wheel bearings, rusted or contorted brake rotor, low-quality brake pads, lack of lubrication, and debris lodged in the brake caliper.
  • It's important to have a mechanic inspect your brakes when you notice any grinding noises to avoid further damage and ensure your safety.
  • Regular maintenance of your brakes, including lubrication and replacement of brake pads, can prevent brake grinding.

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Brakes Grinding Situations

There are 3 main situations that could cause brake grinding:

  • Brake Grinding When You Press On Your Brakes

    If you notice your brakes are grinding while slowing down, it's probably due to a lack of thickness in your brake pads.

    Your brake pads must be thick enough to provide adequate performance and halting power. Over time as you use your brake pads, they will eventually wear out.

    When your brake pads are thinner than the suggested thickness, they will begin to screech every time you press the brake pedal. This uncomfortable sound is known as brake scrubbing, indicating that it is time to upgrade the brake pads.

    If you ignore this noise, the brake pads will continue to wear out, and the squealing sound will become a grinding noise.

    If your brakes make a sharp grinding noise while decelerating, the brake disc and caliper are likely scratching together. The sound often appears when your vehicle comes to a complete stop, but you may also hear it as you step on the brake pedal.

    The best way to resolve this problem is to have your brake pads replaced as soon as possible, but you may also need to replace both your discs or rotors at this point.
  • Brake Grinding While Driving

    If you hear your brakes grinding when traveling at a steady speed, that may be due to rocks or pebbles lodged between the caliper and the rotor. In this case, you'll want the debris removed from the system as soon as possible. Lack of immediate action can severely damage the brake pedal and other performance components.

    While you can remove rocks and debris from your brakes, hiring a professional is always best, especially if you're new to working on cars. If you hear any brake grinding noises, you should schedule a service appointment with a car mechanic and have them inspect your vehicle.

  • Brake Grinding When Your Vehicle Comes To a Sudden Stop

    Another common reason for a grinding noise from your brakes is when you suddenly slam the brakes. When you hit the brakes suddenly, you might hear a grinding noise and feel the brake pedal rattle. However, if your brake pads are sufficiently thick, you should not need to replace your brake pads.

    If you hear grinding when you suddenly stop, it's most likely caused by your Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS). In a panic stop, the ABS will start automatically to stop wheel lockups and vehicle skidding. The system operates by pumping the brakes to maintain stability and control, resulting in the grinding noise and rumbling brake pedal.

Reasons Why Your Brakes are Grinding

Here are some reasons your brake pedals make a grinding noise:

  • Your Brake Pads Are Worn

    Wearing out brake pads is the most likely cause of brake grinding. Brake pads usually have a perfect combination of graphite, metal, copper, and brass.

    However, with extensive use, the brake pad will wear down to nothing, and the metal backing plate underneath the pads will rub against the brake rotor. Prior to any grinding sounds, your brake pads will frequently make squealing noises.

    This screeching sound, also known as brake scrubbing, indicates that the brake pads must be replaced.

    If you do not replace your brake pads quickly, the squealing will progress to grinding. Remember that your brakes may also squeal as the brake shoes wear away. Screeching is another common noise but is also associated with brake dust buildup. 

    If your brakes are squeaking but still working accurately, dirt or alloying elements are most likely on your brake pads.

    Although brake pads have a relatively long lifespan, the brakes will wear out if you have yet to replace them in 25,000 to 60,000 miles.

  • Your Brake Rotor Needs a Replacement

    Your brake rotors are the shiny discs against which the calipers squeeze to slow your vehicle. Since they are so low to the ground, dirt, and water can enter to cause a rusted or contorted rotor.

    Squeaky brakes can be caused by non-flat brake rotor discs, whereas a worn-out rotor disc will often make a piercing shriek felt through your steering column.

    When you brake, you'll also notice a worn-out rotor because there are many sound waves you can feel through the brake pedal and driveshaft.
  • Your Vehicle Might Have a Faulty Wheel Bearing

    The wheel bearings allow your tires to spin indefinitely without excessive heat. When one or more bearings wear out and debris gets inside, you may hear a grinding noise from your wheel bearings. Here are several signs of bad wheel bearings:

    • Vibrations in the steering wheel increase in intensity and then decrease.

    • Uneven wear on your tires

    • Wheel bearing problems are uncommon as the service interval is typically between 75,000 and 100,000 miles.

  • Low-Quality Brake Pads

    Although low-quality brake pads are cheaper, they often lead to more frequent repairs and increase wear and tear on other brake parts. Cheaper brake pads also contain large amounts of metal, making them more likely to make grinding and scraping noises when braking.

  • Your Braking System Needs Lubrication

    The braking system is usually complex, with many working components, and these brake parts will require re-lubrication over time. Without proper lubrication, there can be a grinding noise from your car's brakes that is caused by the caliper bolts.

    The caliper bolts keep the brake calipers securely in place. However, over time they may begin to rust, which causes the grinding sound. You can stretch the life of your caliper bolts by oiling them once a month, but caliper bolts are cheap to replace, with parts costing between $10 and $20 plus labor.

  • Your Car Has Not Been Driven in a Long Time

    If your car has been idle for months, rust can be the source of your brake noise. In addition to brake noise, you should also check your brake fluid, battery life, tires, etc. By driving your vehicle at least once a month, you can avoid most major problems listed above.

  • Your Brake Caliper Has Debris Inside

    A continual screeching or grinding noise could indicate that something, such as a small stone, a piece of crushed rock, or any other small object, has become lodged in your brake caliper.

    Foreign objects getting stuck in the brake system can cause considerable damage to the brake disc. You can remove the thing by gradually moving your vehicle back and forth in a safe location and fishing out the object.

    If this doesn't work, your best bet is to have an expert mechanic look at it as soon as possible.

If you need professional help with your Grinding Brakes? Call Nubrakes!


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