If you have brakes making a squeaking noise, grinding, or pulling to one side, find out why you should replace the brakes on both sides. Our expert mechanic Sue reviews what brake parts can cause these symptoms and why you’ll want to replace them in pairs.
Brake Parts That Can Cause a Squeaking or Grinding Noise or Pulling to One Side
In the example featured in this article’s video, the ABS light and traction light is on and the pedal feels different with a growl or grinding noise from the other side. Brakes can show different symptoms when there’s a problem with them, like pulling to one side or making a squeaking or grinding noise.
Squeaking Noise from the Brakes
Worn Brake Pads or Loose Brake Pad Tin Plates
A squeaking sound is usually caused by the tin plates that mount on caliper bracket that the brake pads sit in or an indicator on the brake pad. If the brake pads are worn down, a squealer tab can dig into brake rotor to let you know its time to replace your brakes or that the brake pad material is low. You may hear this sound after installing new brakes, which might be from new brake pads needing to wear in.
Brake pad tins can slide around and might push too much into the rotor, making a squeaking sound as the car is driving. Make sure tins are installed correct and that the brake pads have enough material.
Grinding Sound from the Brakes
Worn Brake Pads
Brake pads that have worn down all of the brake pad material to the metal backing plate can make a grinidng noise as the worn brake pads grinds against the rotor. This is unsafe and means your pads need to be replaced. These worn pads can damage the brake rotor, causing you to also need to replace those.
If the car is one that has been sitting, the brake pad can bond to the caliper piston. The caliper piston uses hydraulic fluid to press the brake pads out against the spinning rotor and stop the car, but it can adhere to the metal backing. The brake pad material can unglue from the brake pad if it sits over time too much. Weather breaks the glue down, and if the brake pad material separates, you’ll need to replace the brake pads and this will cause a grinding noise from metal on metal.
Car Pulling to One Side
Most of the time, if you feel the car pulling to one side it’s because there’s an issue with the hydraulics. The flex hose where brake fluid travels into the caliper piston and pushes it out under pressure. If the car is pulling when not applying the brakes, then the side that it’s pulling to has an issue with the caliper or flex hose.
If the car is pulling when applying the brakes, then the opposite side of the one that it’s pulling to has an issue with the brake caliper or flex hose. If you apply the brakes and the car pulls to passenger side, you’ll have a problem with brake parts on the driver side. If you apply the brakes and the car pulls to the driver side, you’ll have a problem on the passenger side. This is because as you apply the brakes, the car pulls to the side of the ones that are working.
Brake Pads Not Seated Correctly
Brake pads not seated correctly can rattle around, make noise, and also cause a pull to one side of the car when driving.
Replace Brake Pads and Rotors in Pairs
When you replace brake pads and rotors on each side, they’ll be the same age and that can help you find issues like if one side is wearing faster than the other. You car will also brake better, smoother, and safer.
Save money with brake kits, watch our how-to videos and follow the step-by-step instructions for your model, and learn to fix your car.
Read More Tips