Ask The Brake Expert.
The brakes on my newer car grind and squeal.
Q: I purchased a new car and soon after developed a loud brake grind. I made an appointment with my new car dealer and complained about brake noises. I was told that there was nothing wrong with my brakes and that minor noise is normal. How can this be?
A: Driving conditions and your driving habits may create normal brake noises.
Brake noise is one of the largest complaints made to new car dealers. Before I answer the question in more detail let’s talk about what causes brake noise. Wet your finger and run it around the brim of a wine glass, the sound that is created is caused by vibration, Try stopping that noise. The same holds true for your brakes, brake pads ride on brake rotors as your finger on the wine glass.
Under normal driving conditions brakes run relatively quietly. So why is it that one person driving the same year make and model vehicle develops a severe brake noise and another does not? In most cases it is the driver that brakes very lightly, over time this type of driving generaly will result in these type of brake noises. How can this be? Brake pads wear very slowly under these driving conditions causing the brake pads to glaze over instead of wearing slightly. The disc brake rotors do the same and if you look at the disc brake rotors through your rim you could see your reflection in the disc brake rotor like a mirror. This is because they have also glazed over. The combination of both mating surfaces now glazed can make a multitude of noises. Minor noises on occasions can be considered normal, if they are excessive and continual the problem needs to be addressed.
What to do?
If your brakes are making noises it is important to first have the brake system inspected to be sure that the brakes are in good condition and your vehicle is safe for the road.
You can then try is to make harder stops (without overheating the brake pads with constant stops). Try making a hard stop or two when exiting a throughway ramp, making sure that there is no one close behind. If this does not seem to help, have a repair shop remove the brake pads and scuff them up with sand paper, lightly sand the rotors at the same time. Remember to make a heavy stop now and then.
If excessive noises persist you might want to try a softer brake pad where the pads will have more of a tendency to wear even under light brake conditions. Manufacturers put the same parts on every like model and in most cases the brake pads perform well. In extreme conditions, very light stopping or severe or commercial driving conditions an adjustment may need to be made to the friction material harder or softer to accommodate the driver and driving conditions.