A day doesn't go by without clients bringing in their vehicles and describing some type of strange or new noise. We cannot begin to explain how important it is for us to diagnose these noises to properly identify the source. Just imagine getting into a car that you don't drive on a daily basis; you may have a hard time pinpointing the noise of concern. Many times, we have driven a vehicle and identified multiple noises that seem abnormal to me. only to find out the client's concern is just the "new" noise, and not the other previous noises.
Then, we have the exceptions to the rule, like this case of the noisy Volkswagen. A brief call from the client explains that the brakes in the VW have been making some abnormal noises. Now the brake pedal feels low, and they feel it may be unsafe to drive, so they've made the decision to tow it in. A great decision, indeed!
The vehicle arrived, and as stated, it not only had no brakes, but when the brakes were applied, the noise was so loud that it could be heard a block away. The technician and staff push the vehicle into the shop, and we raise it up and remove all the wheels. Then, we just stand and stare. Words do not come and we are shocked about the condition of the brakes we are seeing. The left and right rear, while very low and worn out, basically look normal. As we moved to inspect the left front, we can see that the disc brake pads have gone metal to metal, and were grinding into the rotor to the point that you can start to see the structure or skeleton of the rotor itself.
Then, the right front wheel was removed, and OMG, the entire rotor had been ground so deep that it actually cut the rotor in two pieces. The brake pads and their metal backing were completely gone, and the housing of the caliper, which holds them in place, was grinding into what is left of the material. The repairs turn into a small fortune due the extent of the damage.
This "noise" had to been going only for a very, very long time, and not only when braking, but simply just driving too. This is an extreme situation. The cost to repair when the noise was first heard would have been minor, and the vehicle would not have been driven in a very unsafe mechanical condition.
So when you hear noises, use your senses and have us do the inspection since noises don't go away or fix themselves. Sometimes, a noise that dissipates causes more damage than the original noise.Image:Ben Reed