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1998 Chevrolet Lumina making a strange sound! Help!

I have a Chevrolet Lumina, 1998, that has been making a high pitched squealing sound when I drive. It stops immediately when I apply the brakes. It seems to be coming from the front of the car. Is this a major problem or just a symptom of my car being older?

It could be several things, stuck brake caliper, worn pads, belt squealing, pulley wore out, etc… Sounds like it could be brakes since it stops when you apply brakes. You should take it and get the brakes checked or you can check them yourself. It’s not hard. If you need help, ask me, I don’t mind.

It sounds an awful lot like you may have hit the warning tab on your brake pads. This is a little thin piece of metal attached to the pad that is designed to make a terrible squealing sound when your pads are worn enough for the tab to rub on the rotor. It is the kind of thing where the sound usually does stop when you apply the brakes.

What it is telling you is to get your brakes checked as soon as you can.

Neither. It is the biggest indicator of why you should never buy a GM product. Trade the piece in as soon as you can…trust me!

Chill out Norm. There’s not a dimes worth of real difference in brakes on a Chev., Ford, Toyota, etc. except the Chev. is more likely to have disc brakes.

How would I check them myself? Also, what would I ask if I bring the car to a shop?

Well…I’ll just go back in time to when I was a junior in high school and have my parents buy me a different car. Not really the most helpful advice, but thanks for replying anyway I guess.

I will second what admitted amateur said. The symptoms described by the OP are precisely what the wear indicators on the brake pads will do. The wear indictors will make a screeching noise without any application of the brakes, and will become silent when the brakes are applied.

When the wear indicators stop making noise, that means that the wear indicators have been worn out and the brake pads have been worn down to the point of being dangerous. At that point, the rotors will begin being scored badly enough to require replacement.

In other words, unless the OP gets to a mechanic quickly, a routine brake pad replacement will become a more involved and more expensive repair job. Of course, the noise of the brake wear indicators is described in the Owner’s Manual, but I have given up on the idea that people will actually read the book that is sitting in the glove compartment, and I now realize that most people would rather just blithely keep on driving!

Hopefully, in the 1 1/2 weeks since the original post, the OP has figured out that it is time to take the car to a mechanic. Otherwise, please let us know where you live so that we can avoid driving near you!

Take off the wheel you are hearing the noise from just like you are changing the tire. Look at the brake pads and usually on the inner pad near the bottom you will see a metal tab. See if the tab is against the brake rotor (disk). If it is, then that is what is causing the noise and the pads need to be replaced. If you are unsure, measure the pad’s thickness and post it here and we can tell you if you should be near replacement time.

Also don’t listen to Norm, sometimes he has something constructive to say, but many times he spouts GM hate. I suspect some semi-repressed memory in his childhood. Don’t worry I have had many GMs and they don’t have any major problems. All car companies have minor problems with each model they produce.

Norm, can you show me on the doll where the Chevy touched you?

Of course, if you do look at any manual it will always say “raise and safely support the vehicle.” So if you do this don’t forget the “safely support” part since you’ll need to stick your head inside the wheel well or under the car to see the inner pad.

Before you even try that - if you have alloy wheels of some kind they’ll likely have big fat spokes with pretty big spaces in between. Look at your wheels and if you can easily see through the rims you’ll see s big shiny disk in there. That is your brake rotor. Take a flashlight and look around on that disk for a big chunk of metal that looks like its hugging the disk - usually toward the front or front top. That’s your brake caliper and your brake pads are inside it. Shine the flashlight in there and you may be able to get a gander at the pads (its the only part that will be be actually touching the rotor).