It’s quite normal even for new and old cars alike to make noises. In fact, one of the first tells of how your car is faring is the noise it’s making. However, getting grinding, squeaky, clunking, or any other kind of strange noises from your car could make you worried about what that could mean for the health of your car and wallet.
You’re right to try and get some knowledge of what the sound might mean, even if you end up enlisting the expertise of a professional for repairs. At least you’d meet your mechanic prepared and know what kind of questions to ask.
Grinding Noise from the Front Wheels: Brake Pads
Usually, a grinding noise from the front wheels is caused by worn-out brake pads. In automobiles that use the disc-brake system– as I’m sure yours does- the brake pads are the friction materials that make contact and apply pressure to the brake rotors to slow the rotation and stop the vehicle.
Now, the thing is, when either pads or calipers or even the rotors wear out, the easiest way for the driver to know what’s happening is that it takes a lot more slamming on the brake pedal to get the car to stop or slow down. As for what that has to do with the grinding noise, it’s pretty obvious because worn brake pads will encourage metal-on-metal friction since the pads have thinned out, exposing the calipers.
So, if you’re getting the grinding noise when you attempt braking, you could be dealing with worn brake pads, or other components of the disc-brake system, for that matter. This is especially true if you find you’re working harder to slow your car when driving. Besides that, it’s also possible that pebbles, specks of dirt, and stones stuck in-between the brake pad and rotor could be responsible for the grinding noises.
Troubleshoot the Grinding Noise
If your brake pads aren’t the problem, obviously, there are factors at play. So we’ll detail a step-by-step guide on how to quickly determine what’s causing the noise. You don’t have to be a professional mechanic to conduct this test yourself; all we’re trying to do is a simple look-see to determine which component is at fault. Here we go:
- First, turn on your engine, then listen to find out if you start hearing the grinding noise the moment the engine starts running.
- If the grinding noise doesn’t start right away, take the car out for a short drive. While braking, listen for any grinding noise. If you do hear the grinding noise while braking, then it’s a confirmation your brake pads need to be replaced.
- If the noise doesn’t start as soon as the engine turns over and you don’t hear the grinding noises when you brake, then it’s time to move on to the next component to be examined.
- Open your hood and examine your alternator using a piece of rubber hose. Place one end of the hose on the alternator and listen to determine if the grinding noise is coming from there. If that’s the case, then you’re dealing with a bad alternator.
- Not the alternator? Repeat the same “rubber hose” procedure on the water pump. Attempt the same on the power steering pump as well if both the alternator and water pump check out. The goal is to determine if the grinding noise is coming from any of these components.
- This sixth step is to figure out if the problem has to do with the wheel bearing. You should take your vehicle for a drive and attempt making right and left turns while listening for the grinding noises. If you hear grinding noises when making turns, the problem is your vehicle’s wheel bearing. Of course, you can perform the second and sixth steps concurrently.
- Finally, listen carefully for grinding noises while changing gears. Again, you can perform the second, sixth, and seventh tests concurrently. If you hear grinding noises when changing gears, then it’s most likely you’re dealing with clutch issues. It means the clutch is worn out and needs to be replaced.
Grinding noises from the front end of your car is usually due to worn-out brake pads. Plus, the constant hard braking to slow your car can lead to faster, uneven tire wear. But, you may not be certain the brake pad is at fault as other issues could be to blame. You should consider these strange, unpleasant noises as warning signs that you need to have your car checked out.
You can narrow down where the problem is coming from by following the seven steps above. You don’t have to DIY the repairs by yourself if you don’t have a professional level of experience. However, it certainly helps to know what you are dealing with. If, after conducting all the steps itemized above and you’re still unsure what the problem is, enlist the services of a qualified mechanic.