Squeaking, Squealing and Grinding Brakes

Are your brakes squeaking or squealing? Maybe even making a grinding noise or vibrations? This article is to help you through your brake troubles, with some follow up how to change your brakes.

Please note, if a brake job was just performed and they are still making noise, the installer most likely failed to lubricate everything properly and/or clean the braking surfaces properly.  This is surprisingly common but easily remedied.
 Properly lubricating your brakes and making sure everything is clean is crucial.

Brakes are seemingly an issue that comes up with pretty much any vehicle you own.  This is in part because you have front and rear brakes, but also because they are actually designed to wear out and need replacement.

A common indicator that you have brake problems is noise coming from the wheels while applying your brakes.  This is sometimes accompanied with vibrations or shaking, depending on the severity of the brake issue.  

If you suspect you have brake issues, usually you are right.  You want to get this taken care of as soon as possible with a mechanic.  If damage occurs to the rotors or drums, they will need to be replaced.  If taken care of early enough, you can usually re-machine these parts, saving cost on more parts.  

If you are mechanically savvy, have a large assortment of tools, and don’t mind getting a little dirty, then brakes can be done on your own for reasonably inexpensive.  If you do decide to do your own brakes, we recommend getting new rotors or drums as well.  You can get your old ones re-machined at an auto parts store such as O’reillys or Advanced Auto Parts, but usually the difference in the cost on the new ones is not much.  Getting them re-machined can be a hassle and take a while.  You will also need to be able to leave your vehicle standing on jack stands while all of this occurs - something that we do not recommend anywhere but a garage.  If you have all the new parts ready, each side can take as little as 20 minutes.  If you opt to go to a shop, the opposite policy is true as far as new rotors or drums.  Machining the brake drum or rotors costs less than what they want to sell the new rotors for. The average shop also prefers revenue on the time as most full service facilities have a brake lathe.  

When performing a basic brake job, the number one error we see is the failure to lubricate everything properly.  When the auto store is trying to give you a little packet of the grease, if you don’t already have an equivalent (such as a wheel bearing grease), do yourself the favor and spend the extra $1.89.  

Please note, some vehicles have some unique needs for tools - do not leave yourself immobile unless you are certain you have everything or another means of transportation.  

If you need some step by step assistance for doing basic brake jobs, here are some good links I have gathered that I feel do a very good job.