Pointing your mechanic in the right direction to address those noisy brakes.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

Help!! My husband is driving a 1988 Honda Accord that has about 90,000
miles on it. Recently, we've noticed a loud screeching noise coming from
the front right tire when he depresses the brake pedal (anticipating your
advice, we checked for small children and animals there and found none).
The sound is like metal scraping metal. Two mechanics independently checked
out the brakes and found nothing wrong. They both said the front brake pads
were a little worn but safe to drive on. What's going on here? By the way,
in case this is helpful, we had the transmission replaced about three years
ago. -- Emily

TOM: Oh, that pesky transmission!

RAY: No. It has nothing to do with the transmission, Emily. Don't listen to
the rantings of my lunatic brother. I don't know for certain what it is,
but it sure sounds like brake pads.

TOM: Here's what I would do. First, ask a mechanic to apply some Disc Brake
Quiet or some similar lubricant. It goes on the back sides of the pads and
keeps the metal backing of the pads from vibrating against the caliper,
which is one cause of brake squeal.

RAY: If that doesn't help, have someone swap the pads left and right. I
believe the pads on this car are interchangeable. So have a mechanic take
the right pads and put 'em on the left front wheel, and vice versa. If the
noise follows the pads to the left, you can make a pretty strong case that
you've got a bad set of brake pads.

TOM: And it is possible for pads to be noisy because they're contaminated
with grease or oil, and that wouldn't necessarily be visible to a mechanic.
So if the noise does seem to be caused by the pads, I'd just toss 'em out
and slap in a new set.

RAY: And I'd recommend genuine Honda pads for this car, Emily. In my
experience, they tend to squeal less (fewer of my Honda customers come back
and squeal at me when I use real Honda pads on their cars). And make sure
your mechanic uses all of the shims and special paste that come with the
pads. They're an important part of the anti-squeal line of defense!

* * *

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