Desperate! '08 Corolla Creaking when braking

Hey all - I have a 2008 Toyota Corolla LE with about 188,000 miles on it. Started hearing a cyclical creaking noise when braking at slower speeds. Got a brake inspection done and was told my rear brakes needed replacing… My husband replaced the rear brakes (drums, springs, shoes) and it’s still making the noise. I can’t figure out what’s going on!! I’m trying to sell this car and of course this just started happening a week before I’m trying to post it… it won’t let me attach a video of my own but this is the exact same sound… Creaking noise when braking at low speeds - Maintenance/Repairs - Car Talk Community
Any ideas??

Have a shop look at it.

Yeah, that’s the plan for Friday, but a shop looked at it the first time and said it was the rear brakes so I was hoping someone else could recognize it and/or offer suggestions

drums and shoes are very particular. there are so many moving parts, everything can be shifted slightly. Did you notice uneven wear on the old shoes?

Maybe a little but not much…was having the issue of my steering wheel or brake pedal shaking when braking hard but that went away with replacing these parts

Brake pedal shaking (pulsing) generally points to the rear brakes. The steering wheel shaking generally means the front brakes.
So my question is this. Are you absolutely, positively, 100% certain this noise is from the rear?

Yeah I hear you, but I did get a brake inspection done last week and they only told me the rear brakes needed to be replaced. I’m 99% sure the noise is from the rear. My husband and I are going to try to troubleshoot a little more tonight to see if we can pinpoint exactly where its coming from.

In terms of what I said with the brake pedal or steering wheel, I can’t remember which one was the issue so that’s why I said ‘or’

Sounds more like a clunking to me not creaking. If it is a pulsation then likely the rear drums are out of round and need replacing.

Iam not familiar with your car, but I would go back and look at your work again and see if something looks wrong. always a good idea to take a picture of the brakes before doing the work if you have not done this a couple of times before. any grease on the shoe lining?
not sure if it would cause this sound but is there a chance you reversed the shoe linings? from pictures I have seen online they look almost the same. some vehicles have one larger than the other, but yours look mostly the same with a very slight difference. just a thought though


also, it is possible the new drums might be defective and slightly out of round.

The drums are brand new. We replaced the drums, shoes, and all springs

Sami Auman

I will look into all of these, thank you!

Sami Auman

My only confusion is that this was happening before I replaced the brakes and it’s still happening, making me thing it might be something we didn’t replace like the cylinders.

Sami Auman

If this same sound was happening before you did the work and it is still happening, I would say it is something else causing the noise. as far as the wheel cylinder, if it is not leaking it would not cause the noise.

Yeah maybe a wheel bearing.

1 Like

I was thinking a wheel bearing also. at least that’s what it sounds like in the video to me.

I have an early 90’s Corolla, 3 or 4 years ago heard a faint scraping noise from the rear when applying brakes. At first I thought it was just some rust forming on the drum b/c during rainy season, but later bit the bullet and removed the drums. Sure enough on one side the shoes were at the wear limit. I just replaced the shoes, nothing else, noise gone.

So your problem , replace most everything, noise still there, that is pretty mysterious. Here’s some guesses anyway, might be of help

  • New brake parts installed incorrectly, in wrong order, etc. If so, don’t blame hubby, it’s a pretty complicated arrangement. Especially the parking brake cable. That’s tricky to install correctly. I used locking hemostat pliers for that part of the job. Trying to do it with needle nose pliers, very easy to install incorrectly. Parking brake might still seem to work, but cable could scrape against something.

  • Brake backing plate bent & slightly touching drum.

  • Wheel cylinder piston(s) not moving freely. Usually with all those parts replaced, the wheel cylinders would be replaced as well. Were they?

  • Wheel bearing. Usually as part of the brake renewal process you’d manually spin the wheel several times listening for any noises to make sure everything is back together correectly. If that was done, doubtful this is a wheel bearing. No harm done to repeat that experiment, just need to jack the wheel up and chock, and also checking for any in/out and twisting play.

  • Suspension system problem. Pretty common squeak/creak sound source. Two person job to check, one underneath the car, and the other pressing down on each corner. Be careful car doesn’t get pushed so low to injure the person underneath of course. Struts, springs, control arm bushings, sway bar and links etc, can all make noises when flexed. When you apply brakes, car’s front naturally goes downward, and rear goes upward. Just the laws of inertial physics.

  • Something in trunk moving around. Be sure to include checking spare wheel & jack areas.

  • Trunk lid can makes squeaking sounds. When you open and close it, do you hear anything like that? If so, apply lube where the noise comes from. On mine the sound comes from the torsion spring that holds the lid up after you open it.

Ok so hubby went under the car, checked the wheel bearings with a flashlight…didn’t SEE anything wrong but again, I’m bringing it to a mechanic on Friday so we’ll see

SO we just lifted the rear, hubby went under and didn’t physically see anything wrong.

We did determine the car needs to be going at least 20-25mph to make the noise and it ONLY makes it when its braking (both forward motion and backing up). He knows for sure it’s only coming from the rear and is 90% sure it’s coming from both sides.

Not a suspension issue, only time we can get the car to make the noise is by braking at at least 20-25mph.

We did not replace the wheel cylinder piston(s) so that very well could be it.

Thank you so much for your informative response, I really appreciate it and will update everyone when I (hopefully) figure it out on Friday!

1 Like

Should be at least be checked. Move rubber boot out of way, if see any brake fluid at all, replace wheel cylinder. When you press on brake pedal, that forces the pistons outward, which push on shoes. Shoes move and contact drum. For all that to work correctly, and without noise, the interface between the shoes and backing plate requires a special brake lube. That usually comes in a little packet with the replacement shoes. While checking wheel cylinder, make sure that brake lube has been applied.

The fact that the noise is only heard when braking doesn’t rule out a suspension system source. The necessary car motion may only occur when braking; i.e. not possible to reproduce when pushing on corners of stopped car.

You can’t really check a wheel bearing by looking at it though unless it is coming apart. I thought the noise was at low speed, but appears it is at higher speed. Gonna have to spin the wheel listening for roughness or checking for looseness.