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brake noises, what do they mean?

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Any unusual sound eminating from your vehicle is likely to cause alarm, however this especially true of brake noises. In this article we cover some of the most common brake noises: squealing, grinding and scraping, as well as their most likely causes.

Squealing brake noises

Brake squealing is by far the most common noise that you are likely to encounter and is most commonly caused by vibration. Modern brakes squeeze cast iron discs between two brake pads covered in a high friction material.  In some cases the brake pads and their calipers can start to vibrate. These vibrations result in a sound, just like the vibrations of a guitar string.

Scraping brake noises

Have you ever noticed a slight scraping sound for the first few stops on a wet morning? This sound can be a result of the pads rubbing off a thin film of rust that has formed on the iron disks overnight and is nothing to worry about.  A persistent scraping noise however may be the sign of something that requires attention.

Many brake pads contain a wear indicator. This is a metal plate designed to scratch the brake disk when the pad has worn down to the desired level. This creates a scraping noise intended to alert the driver that it is time to changes the brake pads.

Foreign bodies, invariably from the road surface can become lodged between the pad and the rotor and may cause further damage if not removed promptly.

Grinding brake noises

Of the three noise grinding has the most serious implications. A Grinding noise may signify that  the high friction material has worn away from the metal backing plate.  A brake pad that has worn down to its backing plate will eat grooves into the rotor, damaging the brake caliper in the process and causing a distinct grinding sound.


If you hear any of these noises whilst driving and are unsure of the cause, we highly recommend that you get it looked at by a trained professional.  Here at Tyred and Exhausted we have a team of highly trained and helpful individuals to help put your mind at ease.

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