Pads Shriek Only AFTER The Brake Job
May 13, 2008 3:23 PM   Subscribe

I took my 04 Camry in for a brake job. Rotors were warped, pads were fine (they weren't making a sound). The mechanic replaced pads and rotors. I paid hundreds of dollars. Now, 200 miles after the work, my pads are shrieking. Can anyone think of why this might happen?
posted by jimmyjimjim to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pessimistically, I'd say the guy did a bad job.

Less pessimistically, it could just be that he gave you brakes pads that were made of a different compound than you are used to. The "long wear / no dust" pads tend to be noisier.

Obviously, take it back to him. The only thing I'd try first is to wash the car, paying attention to squirt off the brakes real good. It's possible that some gunk got in there from the break-in period of the brake pads and washing it off will cure it.
posted by gjc at 3:32 PM on May 13, 2008

Pads not making a sound doesn't necessarily mean they weren't worn out. Pads cost about $40 a set, and they snap into place with no tools needed. I would hope you didn't pay more than $100 for the parts and labor on the pads. Rotors are more of a hassle to replace, and are a more expensive part. That's usually where you spend a few hundred bucks.

One reason why pads shriek is that they're vibrating in the caliper. This is pretty common and not a huge deal. Apply some brake quiet to the BACK of the pad (NOT the part that touches the rotor!) and smear it in good. It will stop the vibration and the squeak.

Or, take it back and complain.
posted by autojack at 3:44 PM on May 13, 2008

Not sure how it works with your Camry, but when I used to change the pads on my old Triumph, there were these thin metal shims that went between the caliper and the pad to stop the vibration, similar to the above mentioned Brake Quiet applications. One time I forgot to put them in, and later on there was much squeaking. It didn't affect the performance at all, just made for a racket when stopping. Perhaps something similar has occurred?
posted by barc0001 at 4:01 PM on May 13, 2008

I should also add that I lost the shims and never did put them back. I eventually applied an antisqueak compound to the back of the pads and that fixed it just fine. I let them squeak for about a year though because I was delivering pizza in high school at the time and noticed that the squeak was getting people to the door faster since they heard me coming, and also on *many* occasions I was flipped a few extra bucks on the tip to "get some new brakes".
posted by barc0001 at 4:03 PM on May 13, 2008

Perhaps he didn't use the shims properly, or apply the anti-squeak compound to the pads, or perhaps the new pads are just a noisier compound. Impossible for us to tell.

Also, some thoughts about "warped" rotors.
posted by knave at 4:04 PM on May 13, 2008

I had brake pads replaced on my 92 Camry and I noticed some definite squeaking. I took it back in and the guy said it is tiny flakes of metal coming off the rusted undercarriage and falling onto the pad, or something like that. I've had it checked at a dealership since then and they found nothing wrong - the pads are still fine - so I have no reason to doubt him.
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:21 PM on May 13, 2008

When you brake does it shudder? No - the rotor is fine or was machined or replaced. Yes - rotor is fucked. Needs to be machined or replaced.

Did the squeal start fairly slight and then swiftly get worse? Yes - uh.. the little that was on your 'new' brake pads is now gone... (The words mechanic/fixed/hundreds/ - are why I'm not bothering with any other explanations)

There is this stuff, I can't remember what it's called, but it's like WD40 only it's silicone based and it's meant to go on your brake pads (or in your case brake grinds) in situations such as these. Or if I'm mistaken and you do have brake pads - this stuff will still do the trick! While you're down there - look at how thick they are? If it reminds you of toast, they're toast. A few slices of toast? ...then I don't know?? Ask the mechanic wtf! and try the silicone stuff?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 4:38 PM on May 13, 2008

Reading your description again, you used the word "shrieking". That's an interesting choice. There are two different types of brake noise you typically encounter. First, some brakes are just squeaky, for a variety of reasons, and as I mentioned above, there are ways to mitigate this (shims, anti-vibration compound applied to the back of the pad). This is typically a high pitched squeaking sound only during braking. It's a nuisance, but not a driveability issue.

Second, there is a device on the brakes whose whole purpose in life is to shriek when your pads are almost completely worn down. This is a metal-on-metal scraping sound, and generally sounds really bad. When it gets to this point, it may shriek only during braking, or it may scrape all the time. If this is what you're hearing, get back to the shop ASAP and have him fix his shitty work.
posted by knave at 4:47 PM on May 13, 2008

Caliper? Shims? Doh! (I only learnt about this last week. Just humor my enthusiasm, I'll be useful one day.)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 4:51 PM on May 13, 2008

if you paid to have it done, I'd take it back and have it fixed.

More than likely, the above posts are correct, but it's hard to diagnose a problem like this in this format.

it could be the brake quiet wasn't used, as others have mentioned. Knave suggested that the noise you are hearing is the indicators ( tabs on brake pads that will grind against your rotors when the pad gets low, to let you know you need brakes before the rotors got scored to bad). If it is the indicators than they may have put the old pads back on.

there are also a lot of crappy aftermarket rotors on the market, I've seen them warped right out of the box, so it's possible that you had you old bad rotors replaced with new bad rotors, but you would feel them more than you hear them.

was it a mom and pop garage or one of the big guys? It is possible someone made an honest mistake. Your brakes shouldn't squeak. you shouldn't have to live with it, especially if you paid a "pro" to fix them and they charged you for the work.

I would suggest you take it back. if they start to give you the run around and try to tell you that you need to spend more money i would take it somewhere else and get a second opinion to make sure you are not getting ripped off
posted by Mr_Chips at 6:37 PM on May 13, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, all. To follow up:

They're not squeaking...they're shrieking. As if the pads are worn down and making the warning sound. Not all the time, however. Just most of the time.

I can't understand how this could happen, when two different mechanics assured me pads were ok, and that rotors were the problem (though the pads WERE replaced).

The rotors "feel" ok. The warped ones were making for a horrifically pulsating brake pedal when stopping. That's gone. And braking distance feels ok.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 7:32 PM on May 13, 2008

The 'anti-squeal' stuff everyone seems to be talking about is probably 'brake grease'. Lovely term, I know. It's applied to the bolts that the calipers float on, the backside of the pads and pretty much any other metal to metal contact area but never get the stuff between the pads and the rotor. It'll screw up your braking and sometimes catch fire.
Now, I've had a bit of a squealing problem, when I've neglected to apply the grease or other times with really cheap/shitty brake pads, but the sound you're describing sounds like another issue I've had.
Right behind the rotor is a circular metal plate, or shield. When doing work down there, it's very easy to accidentally bend this sucker (banging a jack into it especially comes to mind) so that it will intermittently contact the spinning rotor as you drive. The sound can vary greatly, from a mild squeal to siren level screeching. It's happened to me at least three times (and I always do my own work).
There can be other objects out of place down there causing the same thing but that's the most likely.
posted by IronLizard at 8:27 PM on May 13, 2008

Oh and about a comment up above: never, ever and I can't stress this enough, spray silicone, WD40 or anything but BRAKE CLEANER on your brakes. This is just a very fast evaporating degreaser that leaves no residue.
posted by IronLizard at 8:30 PM on May 13, 2008

I think I just figured out what mu~ha~ha~ha~har is talking about. There is a silicone anti-squeal spray, but it's only for serpentine or fan/accessory belts. Your brakes would light this stuff up like gasoline after one trip down an off ramp.
posted by IronLizard at 8:33 PM on May 13, 2008

If you are not mechanically inclined, please take your car back to the mechanic who did the work, or to another mechanic. Your brakes keep you, and others, safe. Don't mess around if you aren't comfortable taking off your wheels and fixing the problem yourself. For me, I always do my own work, but there are areas of work that I'm simply not comfortable with. For some reason, I'm comfy doing brakes, but I can't stand dealing with anything related to the fuel lines, etc.

Again, just call the mechanic and describe the problem, I'm sure they'll be cool about it and advise you to bring it back in.
posted by xotis at 8:39 PM on May 13, 2008

As I understand it brake pads squeal on two occasions - when brand new, and when wearing out. (I dont know if this is still true but I heard that brake pads have a "squealer layer" built into them to deliberately squeal when its time for them to be replaced). At all other times I'd say the squealing is abnormal. I'd have midas or meineke or your dealership check them out I guess.
posted by jak68 at 10:17 PM on May 13, 2008

I had cheap and nasty brake pads fitted to my car that started squealing horribly about a year and a half after they were fixed. I took it into the mechanic, and they told me that were cheap and nasty and the stupid amount of rain we'd had had caused them to start rusting which made them squeal. He put something on them (for free) and they stopped squealing (they still had lots of wear in them).

A week later and it starts raining again and the start squealing again. Sigh.
posted by kjs4 at 10:44 PM on May 13, 2008

Brake grease and anti-squeal compound are two different things. The grease is a high temperature lubricant for the moving parts, the anti-squeal is for stopping things from vibrating. Basically gluing your pads to the caliper. Always works great.
posted by gjc at 9:27 AM on May 14, 2008

« Older What computer science classes I should take before...   |   Where can I find used dentures? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.