Why is my car making a grinding noise when I brake?

The harsh, grinding noise you can hear is caused by the brake caliper scraping on the brake disc. If you hear grinding, screeching, squealing, or scraping sounds when applying the brakes, then you may have a problem with your brake pads, discs or drums. If you hear a grinding sound after you step on the brake pedal, this could be a tell-tale sign that your brake pads are completely worn out and you need a replacement. In this case, you will not only need new brake pads, but you will also need to have your brake discs and brake drums inspected for damage, and potentially replaced by a mechanic.

What are the common causes of grinding brakes?

Worn brake pads

Risk level – High

What to do – Visually check the thickness of your brake pads or book your car in for a vehicle diagnostic check

The most likely cause of grinding or scraping noises coming from your brakes are that the lining on your brakes has become worn. When the lining wears off, the metal part of the brake pad or brake shoe contacts the brake disc or drum which causes a loud screeching or grinding sound when braking. This can quickly ruin the most expensive mechanical parts of the brake system, so must be fixed as soon as possible.

Rusted rotors

Risk level – Low

What to do – Check if the grinding noises disappear after driving for 10 minutes

In most cases, a screeching noise will indicate worn brake pads, but if this only happens rarely, the noise could be a sign that a layer of rust has built up over the rotor – usually from damp conditions when the car is idle. The noise will disappear once the rust has worn off, but if it continues regularly or gets progressively worse, you should definitely have your brake pads inspected by a mechanic and replaced. If you are unsure whether or not your brake pads need replacing we recommend booking a diagnostic check with us.

How do I stop my brakes from grinding?

Because grinding or scraping noises from your brakes are usually caused by worn down brake pads, it is highly likely that these will need to be inspected and replaced by a mechanic. You can book a hassle-free brake pad replacement through Fixter. We’ll collect your car, drop it off at one of our trusted garages, and deliver it back to you, freshly sanitised, when the work is complete. 

Are grinding brakes dangerous?

Continuing to drive with worn brake pads is dangerous, and you should never let your pads get to the point where you can hear a harsh, metallic grinding noise. The grinding noise is the sound of metal on metal, and indicates brake pads which have been completely worn down. Driving with worn down brake pads is very dangerous as braking will be much less effective, and could fail entirely, meaning your presence on the road is a danger to all other road users.

If your car brakes have been grinding or squeaking when stopping you should book your car in for a professional check or replacement. These grinding noises indicate that your brake pads are worn and, as a key component of any vehicle’s braking system, make your car unsafe to drive. Further driving could also damage the brake discs or drums, leading to more problems and expense.

Will adding or changing brake fluid stop my brakes grinding?

No, topping up or changing your brake fluid will not stop a grinding noise. The brake fluid is the hydraulic fluid for the brakes’ hydraulic system, and has nothing to do with your brakes grinding. Even if your brake fluid is extremely dirty, old or gritty it will not cause a grinding noise.

How do I know if my brake pads are worn out? 

You can also identify worn brake pads by looking at them through your spokes. The brake pads will be attached to the rotors, and shouldn’t be any thinner than ¼ inch. If the pads are visibly thinner than this, you should have your brake pads professionally inspected and replaced immediately by a mechanic.

As with any problems related to your car’s braking system, continuing to drive on worn or damaged brakes is incredibly dangerous, and will only become more so if left or ignored. If you are unsure if you need a brake pad replacement we recommend booking a vehicle diagnostic with Fixter. We will book your car in at one of our trusted garages near you and our highly-trained mechanics will get to the root of the problem.

How much does it cost to fix worn brake pads?

A typical brake pads replacement in the UK costs between £70 – £200, with the average cost being £125. Depending on your car brand, model and engine, and whether you live in a big city or a small one, the price of a brake pads replacement on your vehicle can be higher or lower. See our pricing table to browse our honest, upfront prices.

With our seamless collection and delivery service and our in-house experts just a phone call away, you’ll be in safe hands from start to finish with Fixter. There’s no need to stress about your car’s next brake pads repair.

About Fixter

Fixter is revolutionising the car maintenance industry, one repair at a time. Fixter was founded to make car maintenance as easy as booking a taxi. Digital, transparent and stress-free, with world-class customer service. Since launching in Manchester in 2017, Fixter has expanded to more than 100 towns and cities across the UK and provided thousands of car owners with honest, convenient and affordable car repair services.