Why are my brakes grinding? [Expert advice to diagnose & fix]

Brakes Grinding?
Expert Advice to Diagnose & Fix

Has your car been making a new grinding noise when you brake? Our mechanic explains symptoms, causes, and how to fix brakes grinding, in this video: 

Grinding Noise When Braking? What’s That Noise in My Car, Truck, or SUV? 

What are the symptoms of brakes grinding?

Grinding noise is usually a sign of extreme wear of the brake pads themselves. Once the brake pad material has worn to the metal backing plate, the metal-on-metal contact between the backing plate of the brake pad and the rotor leads to a loud grinding noise and damages the rotor.

What are the causes of brakes grinding?

  • Neglecting proper brake maintenance
  • A bad brake caliper that is not functioning properly

Can a caliper piston cause rotor damage that causes a grinding noise?

A bad caliper that is not functioning properly can cause the brake pad to remain in contact with the rotor even when not braking, causing the pad to wear much faster than under normal conditions. And in some rare cases, the material on the brake pad is defective. It either becomes separated from the backing plate or the material starts to break apart.

Can you just replace the caliper?

In addition to needing to replace the caliper, you’d also need to replace your rotors and pads.

Is it safe to drive with grinding brakes? 

When your brake pads become so worn and thin that they create a metal-on-metal situation with your rotors, you need to address it immediately. 

This is dangerous, and you should not drive your car until the issue has been resolved by replacing the necessary parts. 

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How do I stop my brakes from grinding? 

Replace the worn, damaged, or failing brake parts responsible for the grinding.

Video: How to Check Your Brakes and Perform Brake Job

Should you replace all of your brake pads at once?

Even if you’re only hear grinding coming from one side of your car, you should always replace both sides because the braking systems will work optimally if both sides have equal brake material.

More brake pad material means more friction, so if you only replaced the pads on one side, your car will likely pull toward that side when you brake.

If the grinding sound is coming from the front passenger side, and you know you need to replace those brake pads, you’ll need to replace your front driver side brake pads as well.

Should you replace your rotors when you replace your pads?

If you know you need to replace your brake pads, you should always inspect the thickness of your rotors at the same time. Check for any grooves, cracks, glazing, or other rotor damage.

If your rotors meet the manufacturer’s thickness specifications and you don’t see any noticeable damage, you shouldn’t need to replace them. Otherwise, you should replace them at the same time you replace your pads.

How much does it cost to fix?

Our mechanic breaks down the cost of replacing brakes and how much you can save by buying and replacing your own brake parts in this article, How Much Does It Cost To Replace Brake Pads

Preventing grinding brakes

To avoid grinding brakes in the first place, you should replace your brakes regularly.

Brake inspection should happen about every 6 months or 6,000 miles, depending on which comes first. You can learn more about when you should replace your brake parts when you check out our related articles below.

You’ll be able to get a gauge of how your brakes are wearing by taking a look with your wheels off.

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