What It Means When Your Brakes Are Grinding

Are your brakes making a loud grinding sound when you push down the pedal? If so, don’t ignore it. You should call your mechanic immediately and have your brakes inspected. Continuing to drive when your brakes are grinding could cause an even more serious problem.

When it comes to something as important as your brakes, ignoring even the most minor noise or change can lead to a much bigger (and more expensive) repair down the road. More importantly, if your brakes fail while you're driving, you and everyone in your car will be in a very dangerous and scary situation.

Of all the sounds your brakes can make, grinding is typically a sign that there’s a very serious problem with your brake system. If your brakes are grinding, what should you do? First, you have to determine why they are grinding. Generally, there are two main reasons brakes grind.

Reason #1: Your rotor disc and caliper are rubbing together.

If you hear a loud grinding sound when you push down the brake pedal, it’s most likely a result of contact between the rotor disc and part of the caliper, which occurs when your brake pads are wearing down or have already worn down completely. The metal-on-metal grinding noise you hear is the steel part of the brake pad grinding against the brake rotor, and it’s not good.

You need to get a brake pad replacement immediate when they are shot before they also destroy your rotors or brake calipers, which can be a very expensive repair. In some cases, you may also need to replace your brake discs. As soon as you hear your brakes grinding, stop driving your car and have a mechanic take a look.

Reason #2: Something is lodged in your caliper.

If you hear a constant grinding — or even a screeching — sound while driving, you might just have something lodged in the caliper. This could be anything from a rock, a small piece of gravel or some other debris or foreign object. It’s important to get it out and have your brakes serviced before it causes even more damage to your brake system.

Don’t Ignore Your Noisy Brakes

Your brakes are arguably the most important system on your vehicle. When your brakes are trying to tell you something is wrong, it’s important to listen to them!

Typically, the front brake pads will need to be replaced before the rear brakes. Look around your car when it’s parked. If you see metal shavings around the wheel, it could be an indication that your pads are starting to grind into the brake discs. This can also cause your steering wheel to shake when braking.

When your brake pads are getting low, they typically will make a squealing noise to let you know they need replaced. Newer cars even have sensors that will alert you through a dashboard light if it’s time for a brake pad replacement.

A squealing noise is very common and can also occur when your brakes are dusty and dirty. If your brakes are squealing, but they are still working fine, chances are good that dirt or metal particles are the culprit. In that case, all you need is a good brake pad cleaning. But be aware that a squealing sound can also mean that your brakes pads or brake shoes are completely worn down and need to be replaced.

When brakes are making a scraping sound, it could indicate that a foreign body has gotten lodged between the pad and the rotor. In this case, the object needs to be removed. Similarly, squeaky brakes could simply mean they need some brake pad lube.

Squealing, scraping and grinding brakes can be serious indications that something is wrong with your vehicle’s brake system. It could mean that your brakes have worn down completely and your brakes, rotors and other components are quickly on their way out as well. The faster you can catch the problem — whatever it is — and fix it, the less extensive and costly the repair will be.

Ideally, you shouldn’t wait until your brakes start grinding to have them serviced. Once the grinding begins, there is already a problem with your brake system. Instead, before there is a major issue, have a mechanic do a complete brake inspection to see what needs to be replaced.

Remember, ongoing, regular maintenance is the best way to catch problems such as wearing brake pads. Keep up with regular services such as oil changes and brake inspections, so you can catch issues before they turn into bigger problems. In addition, you can be proactive and familiarize yourself with all the brake components in our brake parts diagram to help you diagnose issues.

Are your brakes trying to tell you something? Is it time to have your brake pads replaced or your brake system checked? Stop by one of our 6 brake repair shops and have one of our experienced technicians inspect your brake system today. 

Rainbow locations