Baffling front brake issue

I have a 2003 Impala. Over the past couple of months I have had an occurance every so often, very random with my front driver side break. In both rain and dry conditions, breaking hard and just slowing to break I will hear what sounds like grinding when I break, like you do when the pads are gone. Well, I have had the car in and the pads and rotor are fine, the place I took it to even test drove it and tried but couldn’t get the sound. I posted here a while back on this issue and the view was that it might be the ABS, but when this occurs the ABS light doesn’t come on and the sound is just coming from the driver side front. Any thoughts on what my next move should be?

Yes…There are several things you can check… Here are my Hot spots.

Jack the front of the vehicle up and see if you can move the front wheel up n down Put one hand on top of the tire the other on the bottom and try to “Rock”" the tire top to bottom…see if it feels loose. This can be the wheel bearing…and or the axle nut being loose.

If your bearing was bad or spindle is loose the rotor and wheel will “Deflect” and instead of the rotor running thru the caliper straight n true…it is kind of skewed…then you step on the brakes the powerful Brake Caliper actually tries to straighten out the slop in the wheel bearing. You will get a noise like that. Again this skewing of the rotor can happen when a bearing is going bad and or the front axle nut is coming loose.

Also check the caliper slide pins to see if they “Slide” and are nice n greased and the caliper is able to move as it should. Remove the pads and inspect them. Make sure they aren’t cracked or warped or binding or doing anything Funky Funky.

All of my suggestions can cause noises.


thanks, but if the bearing was bad or loose wouldn’t it make the noise all the time when breaking?

Most things make a noise when they " break "

they do, but wouldn’t that noise happen everytime when I break? I can go a day or two or three and not hear it then once and only once on a trip I will hear it.

I think first off Volvo is giving you a short spelling lesson with the two words Brake and Break…LOL I little jest now and then.

Yes as I did mention a bad or failing wheel bearing would usually make a steady noise when in motion…akin to having a Knobby Tire on the rim…like an Rrrrrrrrrrr sound. They may not always make noise when they are in the early stages of failure however. The wheel and rotor combo can have excessive play or deflection prior to the noise arising while in motion.

It also may not make a steady noise when the axle nut is loose which allows the two halves of the bearings race to separate which would allow the hub…(which is pressed into said race halves) to deflect and thus be crooked within the confines of the Pads/Brake Caliper. So those are definite possibilities and things to quickly look for. None of these checks/verifications take long to suss out. So just quickly check for them… Initially just jack up the front till the wheels are off the ground and see if you can wiggle the wheel/tire top to bottom…to check for looseness or deflection… If you find that there is wiggle room…its time to remedy the issue.

The caliper sliders also need to be checked to see if they do their job and slide. They need to be greased and able to move/adjust. They may be stuck and when you step on the brake it has enough power to get the stuck or sluggish sliders to move…and when they do move…they would or could creak or groan or sound like a metallic crunching sound.

All good stuff to quickly run thru and check for sure


Did the shop actually remove the wheels and visually inspect the inner and outer pads front and rear? They should have.

Not sure, taking it in to another place on friday for another examine. I have had wheel bearings go bad before and it was a much different sound and was pretty constant. I have now gone 2 days of city driving and not heard anything, but will probably hear it again soon.