Noise When Braking at Low Speed: 7 Reasons and Solution

Would you believe if I told you that every week we get at least 5 to 10 customers who come to us complaining about one common problem? It’s that they hear a noise when braking at low speed.

Now, I’m not going to lie, most of them sound terrified. But the thing is, there’s no reason to be scared if you notice it early. The reasons are simple and it’s not that hard to fix it.

So, I thought why not share my opinions on the matter and solve it once and for all.

That being said, let’s see what I can do for you guys-

Types of Noise of the Braking System

Before we jump into the reasons and solution, knowing the types of noise will give you a better idea about the problem.

That’s why we categorized the noise into 3 types. These are grinding, squealing, and squeaking. Now let’s get into details-

Grinding

The grinding noise from the braking system is a big red signal. The minute you hear brakes grinding at low speed, you should stop your vehicle. 

When you hear grinding noise when braking at low speed, it means that the brakes are all used up. The only thing left is the caliper and the rotor. 

Squealing

Do you often park your vehicle outdoors or a wet area? Because if you do, that’s the reason behind this creaking sound when braking. You see when metal surfaces are in contact with water for too long, they can develop rust. 

And that’s exactly what’s happening here. 

However, when you run the vehicle for some time, the rust layer falls off. After a few brakes, the rubbing noise when braking at low speed might even be gone. Nonetheless, it’s a bad idea to park in a wet area. 

Squeaking 

Low quality brake pads are the primary reasons behind scraping noise when braking at low speed. What happens is, low-quality brakes often have huge metal flakes in them. 

So, obviously, it comes in contact with the rotor and that’s when you hear the noise. That’s why it’s better to opt for high-quality brake pads in the first place. 

Apart from that, when you hear the noise, the rotor is continuously getting damaged. The wear indicator of the brake will let you know that you need to change the brake pads. 

So, before you completely damage the rotor, go for a top of the line brake pad.

Related Topic: Muffler Noise When Accelerating

7 Reasons Behind Noise When Braking at Low Speed

Now that you know the types of noise, it’s time to get info about the reasons. The reasons will also help you figure out the solution you need. 

So, here are the reasons-

Reason 1 of 7: Worn out brake pads

The most common reason for these sounds is worn out brake pads. It’s kind of the vehicle’s way of letting you know that you need to change the brake pads. 

You see, brake pads are made out of graphite, copper, and iron. These elements are mixed to make a single piece of brake pads. But with time, they get worn out. 

That’s when the metal of the clipper and the rotor comes in contact, resulting in the said noise. 

This is why you shouldn’t use brake pads for too long. They’re not too long so change them after a few years of use. Otherwise, you’ll face a lot more financial damage than you’d expect. 

Reason 2 of 7: Low-quality brake pads

You see, brake pads need to have specific materials with a more specific ratio. The big manufacturers have the capacity to maintain all these factors but the problem comes with cheap rated brake pads. 

As those manufacturers don’t have the equipment to maintain these ratios, their products are usually low-quality. 

That’s why you’ll never get the perfect accuracy with low-quality brake pads. And as a bonus, they make these awful sounds too. 

So, if you’re planning on buying new brake pads, make sure they’re from a good manufacturer. 

Reason 3 of 7: Used up rotor disks

As you already know low-quality brake pads can damage your rotor disks. As these brake pads constantly come in contact with the rotor disks, it’s normal for them to have scratches. 

After some time, you’ll notice that the rotor disks are not even flat. So, you need to do two things. 

Number one is, don’t use low-quality brakes. Those do more harm than good. 

Number two is, avoid washing your vehicle with cold water while it’s still hot. That can lead to surface deflection. 

Reason 4 of 7: Debris between the rotor and brake pads

If you’re living in an area filled with dirt and debris, it’s normal that some of it gets into your vehicle. So, when dirt, debris, tiny rocks, or sand gets between the rotor and brake pads, you hear the grinding noise. 

Sometimes, you might hear the noise when you’re not using the brake. That’s when you know your car needs cleaning. 

Reason 5 of 7: Vehicle parked for too long

If you leave your vehicle parked for too long it’s normal for it to catch air full of vapors. That eventually leads to rust and corrosion. 

The next time when you start your vehicle, you start hearing those noises. But it might go away after a few days of running. 

Reason 6 of 7: Dried up caliper screws

Lack of lubrication on the caliper screws and bolts can lead to scraping noises. If you can lubricate it on your own, then do it immediately. But if you don’t, take it to your mechanic. 

Reason 7 of 7: Broken shims

These sit between the brake pads and the caliper to eliminate any sounds. So, I guess it’s obvious what happens when the component that eliminates noise gets broken. Hence, you should replace these as soon as possible.

5 Steps of How to Fix Low-Speed Brake Noise

Types of brake noise- check, reasons of noise while braking at low speed- check, the only thing left is how you can fix this problem. 

So, let’s get that out of the way-

Step 1: Look for Loose Parts

The first thing you need to do is to dismantle the entire front wheel. Now start wiggling all the components of the braking system. 

Note that these components should not move at all. So, if they do move, it means there are loose parts that you need to fix. 

Step 2: Use Dampening Paste

After you’ve checked out the loose parts, it’s time to apply some dampening paste. It’s a water-based compound that’ll reduce the vibration and wiggling of the components. 

Use a thin layer of the paste on the rear of the brake pads. After 2 to 3 hours, it should become dry. Only then you should reassemble the braking system. 

Step 3: Check the Brake Pads

Check if the brake pads have worn out or not. As you already know this is the primary reason for brake noises. 

However, before you replace the brake pads, you should try to sand it down and see if it works. If not, then you know you need some new brake pads. 

Although there are incidents when new brake pads make noises too. So, give it some time before you replace that. 

Step 4: Inspect the Rotor

The final inspection is for the rotors. You see, damaged or deflected brake rotors can lead to brake noises. 

That’s why you should check the thickness of the rotor. If it’s not right for your vehicle, get it machined. 

However, severely damaged brake rotors can’t be fixed. So, the only option left for you is to replace those. 

Step 5: Give it an Extra Inspection

As you’ve already dismantled your braking system, it’s better if you check the brake lines and brake oil. If there’s not enough oil, that might lead to problems. 

So, make sure to level up the brake fluid. However, if you notice that the color of brake fluid isn’t quite right, you know it needs a change. In fact, you should change your brake fluid if it’s any color other than clear and bright. 

FAQs

Q. Why do I hear a clunk when I brake?

Ans: If there’s a clunking or some type of knocking noise, there’s a high probability that loose bolts are behind this. So, you should check if the bolts and nuts are tight or not. If the problem is still there, there are a number of components that can be blamed for this. Although loose calipers have a good chance of being the culprit. 

Q. What do bad brake pads sound like?

Ans: Bad brake pads can do anything from squeaking to grinding. So, if you hear any grinding, squeaking, or squealing sound, you know your brake pads need a change. However, as you’ll be buying new brake pads, we’d suggest you get top of the line brake pads for their accurate performance. 

Q. Why does my car make a weird noise when I brake?

Ans: The reason your car makes a weird noise when you brake is because of worn-out brake pads or rotors. You see, when brake pads wear out, there’s a metal to metal contact every time you press the brake. So, the only option you have is to change the brake pads. Otherwise, you might damage other components. 

Q. How often do brake discs need replacing?

Ans: Generally, new brake pads should last about 50,000 miles. But the problem is there are multiple factors that reduce the lifespan of these things. From dust and debris to heat, all the factors make it almost impossible to reach that 50,000-mile range. Unless you drive around a place without traffic and dust, your brake pads won’t last that long. 

Q. Why do my brakes grind sometimes?

Ans: The biggest reason behind the grinding noise from brake pads is worn out brake pads. When the pads are all worn out from driving around, the metal surface gets exposed. So, that metal and the metal from the rotor disk comes into contact. As a result, you hear that awful grinding noise. Now, it’s important that you replace the brake pads as soon as possible. Unless you want to pay tons of money for other damaged components it’s better to replace these beforehand.

Parting Words

Now, you know all the reasons behind the noise when braking at low speed. Additionally, you know the types of noises, and how you can fix those.

So, the next time you fall into a situation like this, you’ll know exactly what to do. But before we go away, we have a piece of advice for you.

Always remember to give your vehicle a monthly health check. You never know what problems your vehicle might have. So, the sooner you know about those, the easier it’ll be to fix those problems. That’s also including these brake pad problems.

Good luck!

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