Tech Tip Tuesday: Diagnosing Brake Pad Noise

Brakes are among the most common repairs for professional shops and DIYers alike for good reason; every car has brakes and they’re one of the most important systems on the vehicle. If you live in an area where the long arm of the law hasn’t yet instituted a mandatory vehicle emission/safety inspection you can live with a pesky check engine light with a P0440 EVAP system leak, but you can’t put off a brake repair for very long without disastrous results. Brakes aren’t usually very difficult to install, but if they’re not done properly they can lead to all kinds of noise. Occasionally, as you will see, even if everything IS done correctly you can still get some noise.

Brake noise is usually caused by vibrations between the pad and rotor being transmitted through the caliper. Quality pads have a pad shim located bonded to the back of the pad to absorb these vibrations. IMG_4838 copy

This brake pad was installed properly (albeit without enough or perhaps any lubricant on the ears of the pad), but it was still making noise. Sometimes you can blame the noise on a too-large piece of metal or ceramic material especially if you’re dealing with a low end brake pad, but this time the culprit was fairly obvious when the pad was pulled off. The paint on the edge of the brake pad began to flake off, acting much like a squealer which tells you when the brake pad is worn out. On this vehicle, I removed the offending paint, scuffed the pad with some 100-grit sandpaper, lubed the pad ears and reassembled. All is well and the customer is happy! Don’t just go swapping pads when the fix can be this simple. Happy Wrenching!

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