Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine – How To Fix?

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine – How To Fix?

Cars make creepy noises when faulty. An example is a grinding noise when braking but pads are fine. We must take care when such happens to avoid catastrophic events. Modern cars use advanced braking systems to keep us safe. There are different types of brakes available, including disc and drum brakes. Each comes in handy depending on the situation at hand.

There may come a time while driving when you start hearing a grinding noise when braking but pads are fine. What can make that happen, and what should you do if you experience this even after getting new brake pads? Many factors can cause that, and each has a specific way of rectifying the problem.

Confusion may set in when you are sure you just changed or serviced your brake pads, but keep hearing a grinding noise when braking. This article will cover everything you need to know about hearing grinding noises from your brakes and what causes them, as well as professional DIY tips to save you the cost of hiring a professional. Stay with us; let’s dig for solutions.

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine

As previously stated, there are many causes of grinding noises when braking. We will consider some of them in this section.

 Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine, Causes #1: Inferior Quality Brake Pads

This fault may result from either a driver who prefers to go cheap while buying a brake pad or a mechanic who defrauds a driver by installing weak, inferior brake pads in place of the original ones. Either way, having inferior brake pads can lead to grinding noises when braking, but pads are fine.

The major problem caused by having poor-quality brake pads is brake failure, which can lead to loss of life and property. Endeavor to only buy high-quality brake pads. Being a penny-wise driver will cause you a great dilemma as cheap brake pads contain big-sized chunks of metal that make contact with your rotors. Friction between these parts causes heat and subsequent damage or total brake failure.

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine, Causes #2: Presence Of Debris On Brakes

Car brakes are located near the tires, which are near the ground. Hence, debris and small rocks will eventually find their way into your brake pads.

You will hear grinding noises once you have a tiny rock in between your brake pads, irrespective of whether you are applying brakes or not. The presence of debris will clang against metal parts and cause friction, leading to the overheating of brake pads.

Once a clanking or grinding noise is noticed while driving without applying brakes, then there is likely to be a rock lying in between your brake pad and brake caliper. Vibration is most likely to follow due to the foreign body.

Removing stuck debris is as simple as taking your brake pad and caliper apart to shake off the stone. You can handle that with simple garage tools. However, if you are confused, contact a professional to help out.

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine, Causes #3: Worn Or Damaged Brake Rotors


Brake rotor discs are usually very flat surfaces. With time, the surface begins to wear out and may become warped or bent at some point. Vibrations will emerge, followed by scrapping or grinding noises.

You can resurface worn-out brake rotor discs if they still have some kick in them. Replace, if completely damaged and cannot be salvaged.

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine, Causes #4: Worn Out Or Loose Caliper Bolts

A caliper bolt holds down the two brake calipers together effectively. A worn-out or loose caliper bolt will cause both calipers to slide on their sides, causing a grinding noise. Most mechanics normally replace caliper bolts after each brake pad servicing.

Under lubrication of caliper bolts can also cause a noise in the brakes. Hence, remind your mechanic to lubricate the caliper bolts to avoid unpleasant noises while braking or driving.

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine, Causes #5: Bent Backing Plate

A brake backing plate holds the braking system together for full functionality. It serves as a foundation on which the brakes hold their position firmly. That means your brakes have nothing to hold on to without backing plates, so braking is almost impossible.

Repair bent backing plates using simple tools to loosen them up and a hammer to straighten them out. After the straightening process, use a ruler to measure its surface to ensure that it is super straight without any cringe. You can then place them back carefully and reassemble the various dismantled components.

We advise you to seek the services of an experienced mechanic should any confusion be encountered while carrying out this process. Replace severely damaged backing plates with recommended and matching backing plates. The inability to replace damaged backing plates will lead to a complete breakdown of your braking system and might also severely damage your differential.

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine, Causes #6: Leaving A Car Idle For Long

After leaving your car idle for a long time, your braking system gets hit considerably, and certain components lose their function. An idle car will allow rust to form on rotors due to a lack of friction and movement. The formation of rust will roughen smooth surfaces, causing you to hear grinding noise when braking, but pads are fine.

Brake pads usually have an average lifespan of 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Hence if you are sure that your brake pads still have a lot of juice, and you hear grinding noises when braking, you might have left your car idle for too long, and rust has begun to take its effect.

Driving such cars for some time may eventually solve this problem, as friction tends to rub off the rust and restore the brake pads to normal conditions.

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine, Causes #7: Bad Wheel Bearings

It may interest you that grinding noises when braking may not come from your brake pads or braking system. Wheel bearings are round steel balls where the axle makes contact with the wheels.

Wheel bearings perform many support functions and are an indispensable part of any car. They help reduce friction as the wheel spins due to their round, smooth nature. Another great function is that they serve as a weight support system which helps improve the overall driving experience.

Due to their position, they are subjected to wear and tear caused by the heavy stress put on them while driving. They easily become affected by potholes and rough roads and may require replacements. A bad wheel bearing will show damage signs, and some of these signs include the following:

  1. Grinding Noise: this is where the confusion sets in. You might hear grinding noises while braking and rush to conclude that your brakes are the culprit; meanwhile, it’s caused by bad wheel bearings. Take care while diagnosing the causes of grinding noises to avoid making costly mistakes.
  2. Loose steering: you may notice that your steering becomes unresponsive and loose. This sign shows that you have developed a bad wheel bearing (which you can diagnose by learning how to tell if wheel bearing is bad). Driving with loose steering can cause accidents due to delayed steering response.

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine, Causes #8: Bad Shims

Shims are found in between brake calipers and brake pads. It helps to prevent these two mentioned parts from rubbing together and making noises. Shims are made up of metal or rubber and can go bad as time goes by. When your shims are worn out or damaged, you’d hear a grinding noise while braking.

You may also hear grinding noises due to a lack of lubrication on the shims. Without proper lubrication, your shims will find it difficult to align properly between the brake pads and brake calipers. Apply grease on each shim as a tiny layer to avert this problem.

Applying grease to the front of your brake pads can damage your braking system. Take uttermost care to avoid making the mistake of grease touching the front brake pads during any lubrication process.

Further Information On Shims

We will discuss more on what type of shims to buy for your car should you need to replace your brake pads or brakes.

It has become almost a norm for new brake pad kits to come with preinstalled shims. That makes it easier to install. However, in other cases, the shims come in separate packages with adhesive backs that need to be attached manually.

Best Type Of Shim To Buy

Most common shims are made up of rubber materials or thin metals, which cost about $15 on Amazon.

The more exotic titanium shim is more expensive and lasts longer than conventional shims. They cost about $70 and come in the best grades possible. Some titanium shim manufacturers boast about their products lasting for a lifetime.    

Symptoms Of A Bad Shim

With time, your brake shims will deteriorate, especially if they’re made of rubber or thin metal. A damaged shim may start giving off symptoms long before you hear grinding noise when braking but pads are fine. Some of these include:

1. Brake Noise

This is an expected symptom since the main work of a healthy shim is to prevent the clashing of brake pads and calipers. These parts tend to clash with the deterioration of shims, resulting in a squeaky noise. It may not be constant, depending on the level of damage done. Once a squeaky noise is observed coming from your braking system, remember that a damaged shim is the probable cause.

2. The Brake Pedal Pulses


Misalignment between the brake pad and calipers will produce a pulsing brake pedal due to bad shims. When your brake pedal pulses, it will drastically reduce the overall driving experience of a vehicle and can cause accidents due to irregular pulsating patterns experienced on the brake pads.

3. Uneven Braking Response

A pulsing brake pedal will generally lead to an uneven braking response. Misalignment between your brake pads and brake calipers may lead to a pulsing brake pedal. And a deteriorating or damaged shim may also cause that.

An inadequate contact ratio between brake pads and calipers will lead to an uneven braking response. That might further lead to complete damage to both brake pads and brake calipers.

A shim is one of the most important small components found in the brake system. Endeavor to be on the lookout for depreciation changes on your shims. Change them on time to avoid putting more bills on your table.

How To Diagnose A Bad Rotor Sound


A lot of sounds give drivers concerns when they emerge. Differentiating each sound by what causes them can be an uphill task and confusing for most average motorists (and knowing how to tell if rotor is bad).

However, diagnosing a vehicle’s fault just by hearing a sound is possible but requires experience. This section will discuss different sounds and possible causes to help you diagnose them.

1. Grinding Or Whirring Sounds

When you hear a grinding sound while driving, there are two possible major causes. It comes from your differentials, transmission, or brakes. Grinding sounds from your gearbox could indicate friction in moving parts caused by inadequate lubrication. It could also indicate a fault with the transmission operations’ shafts.

Suppose the grinding sounds are heard while braking. It indicates that you may have worn-out or inferior brake pads. A bent backing plate can also be the culprit, which can be straightened out with simple tools. A completely damaged brake pad will have to be replaced to prevent further damage to your rotors.

Bad car wheel bearings can also produce a whirring sound due to wear and tear. We recommend changing bad wheel bearings once bad, as driving with them has proven catastrophic.

Generally, grinding or whirring sounds are mostly caused by friction in moving parts when one or more components are not in the best shape.

2. Hissing Sound

A hissing sound is generally observed when a fluid leak is somewhere in your engine compartment or underneath your car. When a high pitched noise is heard while the car is moving, it could indicate a leak in a vacuum tube line.

3. Rattling Sounds

This sound generally indicates a failing or damaged component, loose screws, or bolts. Rattling sounds originate mostly from the exhaust compartment from loose bolts holding the exhaust pipe or a corroded exhaust pipe. A damaged catalytic converter may also be the culprit, causing rattling sounds to be heard.

A rattling sound from the engine compartment might indicate a failing pump or bad bearing on the timing belt. Missing screws and loose bolts can cause rattling sounds.

Rattling sounds should be taken seriously as components that are out of alignment may damage working components due to constant vibrations. Check for missing bolts or loose screws that may cause this annoying sound. Remember to consult the services of a mechanic if you are confused about what to do.

4. Scraping Noise

A scraping noise can come from bad windshield wipers when it is raining. Replace the bad wipers to resolve this issue. A dislodged part (e.g., an exhaust pipe) can also contact the floor to cause scrapping noises while driving. If you notice that your exhaust pipe or other component has been dislodged, a panel beater can help you fix it.

5. A Clunking Sound

Bad shock absorbers can cause this while affecting vehicle handling. A bad shock absorber will weaken your tires over time; do not overlook it. So, how do you know when your shock absorber is bad? It is pretty simple. Once you experience a huge gasp caused by a small pothole, your shock absorbers need a replacement.

Temporary Fix For Grinding Brakes


You can take temporary measures to fix grinding brakes. It is, however, important to note that critically damaged brake parts cause all kinds of grinding noises, and a permanent fix is recommended to avoid spoiling other components or putting lives at risk.

A temporary solution can involve buying a cheap version of brake pads. This fix works well if there is no visible damage to the car’s rotors and calipers. Fixing a cheap brake pad comes with its own negative perk and should be replaced with durable brake pads as soon as possible.

Cheap brake pads easily get damaged and will need replacement. That is why buying cheap brake pads will cost you significantly more money in the long run.

Brake Grinding At Low Speed – Cause And Effect

When braking at low speeds, a squeaking noise might first be heard before grinding noises follow. A squeaking noise indicates that your brake pads have become less thick than recommended. This squeaky noise is often the first sign that your brake pads have become weakened and will need replacement.

Ignoring this squeaking sound will eventually damage your brake pads and lead to more annoying grinding sounds. Grinding sounds are generally produced when your caliper and brake disc are rubbing together.

When these two rub together for an extended period and are left unattended, you will have to replace your rotor discs with brake pads. That is more expensive than replacing just the brake pads.

Cost Of Replacing Brake Pads, Calipers, And Rotors

All drivers will one day need the replacement of brake pads, calipers, and rotors. The rate of wear and tear varies from one vehicle model to another and depends majorly on the driver’s handling. So, how often should you change these brake parts? And how much would it cost you? This section will discuss it fully.

The frequency of getting a brake job depends heavily on the model type, road conditions on which the vehicle is driven, and the quality of parts that make up the braking components (rotor disc, back plates, drum cylinders, calipers, and bots).

The driver’s handling also plays a major role, as gentle drivers get longer life spans than speedy ones. Most companies place the life span of brake pads, calipers, and rotors between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. Some may last longer or shorter depending on the factors mentioned above.

So how much will it cost? The cost of replacing brake pads majorly depends on the vehicle model. On average, replacing all four wheel parts may cost around $40 and $150 each. A mechanic may charge you $80 – $150 as labor, costing an average of $200 per axle.

New rotors will cost around $60 each. Replacing both the brake rotors and brake pads can cost around $450 per axle. Using DIY techniques will cut costs, but a single mistake will cost you more. Hence, we advise you to only perform actions you are confident of.

Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine: Final Words…

Hearing a grinding noise when braking but pads are fine can cause a lot of confusion among motorists. You must note that inferior quality brake pads, bad shims, the presence of debris on brakes, bent backing plates, leaving a car idle for a long time, and bad wheel bearings can cause these grinding noises.

Car noises indicate a fault in components and can help a driver diagnose these faults. These sounds include: grinding, clunking, rattling, choking, etc. Each of them can show one or more faults, as previously mentioned. Ignoring car noises can cause a lot of damage to working components and incur more costs.

The cost of replacing damaged brake pads stands at around $200 per axle with labor costs inclusive, while replacing your rotors plus brake pads will cost about $450 per axle. That average cost may vary depending on the environment and vehicle model.

FAQs On Grinding Noise When Braking But Pads Are Fine

Why Does My Car Make A Noise When I Brake

Grinding noises while braking can be caused by: bad brake pads, bad shims, the presence of debris, bent backing plates, or just leaving your car idle for a long time.

How Long Can You Drive On Grinding Brakes

Some reports indicate you can drive a car with a grinding brake for a few days. However, this is very risky and can lead to fatal accidents. Grinding brakes signify critical damage and should be looked into immediately.  If you need help with smash repairs please visit Sheen Group.

Does Running Out Of Brake Fluid Cause Grinding Noise

Yes. Low brake fluid can cause a grinding noise. The risk of braking failure increases while driving with stale brake fluid. Low brake fluid or another problem with the brake system might be the source of odd braking noises.

What Do Bad Brakes Sound Like

When the brake pads are too worn to be effective, a metal wear indicator will begin to drag on the rotors. Like engine grinding, this will generate a grinding or screeching sound, like a metallic grinding noise.

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