Navigating the world of auto repairs can often feel like trudging through a swamp of misconceptions, especially when it comes to brake servicing. But fear not, we're here to clear the fog and debunk the myths!
Welcome to our new series of informational guides designed to put you back in the driver's seat of your auto knowledge.
We'll be disputing common misunderstandings after a brake service repair.
To do so, we've reached out to our in-house expert, Brian Pham, our Support Team Lead, who's dealt with a multitude of concerns, queries, and, yes, misconceptions that customers have post-brake repair.
Why is there Brake Noise After Brake Replacement?
If you've recently had your brakes replaced and you're noticing unusual noises, don't be alarmed just yet. It's common to hear squeaking, rubbing, and even burning smells after getting new brakes.
This is usually nothing to worry about, and here's why:
To help illustrate this, let's consider an incident that happened recently. A customer reached out to me with frustration evident in their voice.
Customer: I just had my brakes replaced, and now there are some strange noises coming from them, did you guys do something wrong?
The apprehension was understandable, as no one wants their freshly serviced brakes to start making strange noises.
Here are the reasons why your brakes produce noisy sounds after a replacement:
Bedding Process: New brake pads are initially abrasive and coated with protective elements. The friction between the brake disc and these new pads can cause some noise, which is temporary. As the pads wear down and conform to the disc's shape, this noise should disappear.
Moisture-Related Noise: Overnight condensation can lead to surface rust on your brake rotors. This rust can cause squeaking noises during your first few drives of the day. However, after a few braking instances, the rust wears off and the noise should cease.
Noise from Heavy Use: Situations of heavy brake usage, like stop-and-go traffic or long trips, can cause your brakes to heat up, leading to squeaking or chattering noises. If possible, give your brakes a break during these situations to prevent overheating, which can also lead to problems like warped rotors.
Time Frame for Noise Reduction: Noises from new brakes are usually normal and should subside after a week or around 150 miles of driving. If the noises continue beyond this, it's recommended that you contact a professional.
However, there are some noises and symptoms that you shouldn't ignore:
Grinding or metal-to-metal sounds: These can indicate severe problems, like your brake pads being completely worn out and the metal parts rubbing against each other.
Vibrations or pulsating when you apply the brakes: These could be a sign of warped rotors, which require immediate attention.
Low pedal pressure: If your brake pedal feels unusually soft or sinks all the way to the floor, it could indicate a problem with your brake system, such as a bad master cylinder.
"Remember, your brakes are vital for your safety. So while some noise is normal, don't ignore sounds that persist or any changes in your brake's performance. As I told our customer, it's always better to reach out to a professional if you're in doubt.
After our conversation, the customer felt much better informed and confident about their brake situation. And that's our goal here - to make sure you're safe and comfortable on the road." - Brian Pham, Support Team Lead
Why do my brakes squeak after a brake repair?
When new brakes are installed, it's not uncommon for drivers to experience some squeaking noise and, in some cases, a burning smell or even smoke emanating from the brakes. Rest assured, this is a normal occurrence and usually not a cause for alarm.
The primary reason behind the squeaking sound is the abrasiveness of new brake pads and the protective coating they come with. This composition is likely to create some noise during its initial usage.
This noise should diminish as you drive and the brake pads wear in, a phase often referred to as the 'bedding process.'
Typically, after approximately 350 miles of driving, the bedding in process should be complete, and any squeaking noise should've ceased.
"If the symptoms persist beyond this mileage, it may indicate another issue and it's recommended to reach out for further assistance. So, if you're hearing these noises after a recent brake service, keep calm and carry on driving normally, while keeping an ear out for any persistent sounds." - Patrick Haley, Operations Manager
Why are there shaking or vibrations after a brake repair?
When you experience shaking or vibrations after brake repairs, the most common culprit is your vehicle's rotors. More specifically, these symptoms often arise due to warped or grooved rotors.
A rotor that's warped or distorted creates an uneven surface. As your brake pads clamp down on these irregularities during braking, they cause a vibration, shaking, or pulsating sensation. Think of it like trying to hold a spinning top that's off-balance – the unsteady motion directly translates into an unsteady feel.
The most effective solution for this issue is to install a new set of rotors for your vehicle. These new rotors will provide a smooth, clean surface for your brake pads to interact with, eliminating the shaking or vibrations you've been experiencing.
It's crucial to replace the rotors as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your newly installed brake pads. Delaying the replacement might exacerbate the issue, resulting in not just discomfort while driving, but potential damage to your brake system.
Always prioritize safety, and if you're noticing any unusual symptoms post-repair, reach out to your service provider immediately.
Brake Dust After a Brake Job
Customer: There's Dust Build up on wheels, I think it's coming from my brakes. It happened after the technician replaced it.
Brake dust is a common occurrence, especially with new brake pads, and it's important to understand why it happens and how it can be managed.
When new brake pads are installed, they undergo a curing process. As they heat up, the metallic particles in the pads gain a static charge as they wear off the pad's surface.
This causes the dark, metallic dust that sticks to your vehicle's wheels and other parts. This dust differs from the usual road dirt that your wheels pick up during normal driving. It's darker and finer-grained, often appearing reddish-brown in color.
The brake dust is primarily made up of iron, which comes from your brake disk or brake rotor. The dust appears when the brake pads contact the brake rotor, causing erosion. Most automotive brake pads comprise a semi-metallic compound consisting of steel fiber mixed with other additives.
It's important to note that brake dust isn't an indication of your brakes "dying" or "wearing out". It's simply a byproduct of your brakes working hard to bring you to a stop. Over time, as your new brake pads cure completely, they will harden and give off less residue and brake dust.
However, brake dust can be unsightly, and if left unattended, it can damage brake hardware and expensive wheels. Therefore, it's recommended to clean your wheels regularly to prevent brake dust from accumulating. Some car care products are specifically meant for cleaning your brakes, so that's something to keep an eye out for.
Burning Smells After Brake Pad Replacement
Customer: I smell like something is burning after I hit my brakes, is there a problem? I called you guys to fix the problem with my brakes, did you make it worse?
One crucial point to understand is that the manifestation of a burning smell after new brakes have been installed is quite common. Much like the typical sounds you may hear — the squeaking or occasional smoke – the odor is usually a normal part of the brake adjustment process.
The cause of this burning smell is often linked to the curing process of the resin in your new brake pads. Think of this curing process as similar to 'breaking in' a new pair of shoes. Initially, there's a bit of discomfort, some unusual sounds, and, in the case of your brakes, an uncommon smell. But over time, the shoes become comfortable, and the unusual occurrences dissipate.
Brake pads are made up of a variety of materials, such as metal shavings, rubber compounds, and what we call a binding resin. This resin plays a vital role in holding all the components together and making sure your brake pad works as it should.
When we put in new brake pads and you start using your vehicle, the heat from the friction of stopping causes this resin to cure, or essentially undergo a transformation due to heat. This makes it stronger and better suited for the job. It's during this curing process that you might notice a bit of a burning smell.
|"It's important to note, though, that this smell should go away after a while. Generally, after a few dozen stops, the brake pads should have adjusted to their role, and the smell should subside. However, if you continue to notice the smell after this period, it might indicate there's something else going on that needs our attention." - Brian Pham, Support Team Lead
Soft Pedal or Pedal to the Floor (Weeks or Months after the repair)
A common concern that customers often bring up is a change in the feel of their brake pedal after a brake job. This can range from a softer-than-usual pedal to a pedal that sinks all the way to the floor.
The most common cause for this issue is a bad brake master cylinder.
The master cylinder is where brake fluid gets compressed. Pressure on the brake fluid causes the brakes to be applied to the wheels.
If your master cylinder doesn't work properly or only works occasionally, you're going to lose braking power. Without that pressure, you won't feel the usual resistance when you press the brake pedal, and it could sink all the way to the floor.
Brian Pham, Support Team Lead
When the master cylinder is functioning correctly, you'll typically feel a firm resistance when you press the brake pedal. This is due to the hydraulic pressure in the brake lines pushing back against your foot. However, if the master cylinder develops a problem, it can disrupt this process, leading to changes in pedal feel.
If the master cylinder fails to compress the brake fluid effectively or inconsistently does so, your brake system will lose the required pressure to engage the brakes properly. This loss of hydraulic pressure can manifest as a soft pedal feel or, in extreme cases, the brake pedal sinking to the floor.
The recommended course of action is to have a professional mechanic inspect and likely replace the brake master cylinder to restore the proper functioning of your brakes.
Brakes are a critical safety feature of your vehicle, so it's natural to be concerned when something seems off.
The symptoms and experiences we've discussed throughout this article — from noise to brake dust, from vibrations to burning smells, or even a soft brake pedal — can certainly be disconcerting, especially after a recent brake repair. However, we hope this guide has helped you understand that many of these occurrences are quite normal and typically resolve themselves over time as your new brake components settle in.
Remember, while this guide provides a solid foundation of knowledge, there's no substitute for the advice of a professional mechanic who can assess your specific situation.
Don't hesitate to reach us out for help when you need it.