Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Front brake mystery

I’d love to hear anyone’s advice on this… '99 Ford Ranger, manual tran, 91K miles, front brakes are disc type. Recently started hearing a clicking noise when braking and it seems to come from the front, possibly front left, wheel. Brake pedal felt soft-ish but not as bad as a master cylinder problem. Replaced the calipers, pads; resurfaced the rotors, flushed brake fluid - and now the clicking is back (after a couple miles of driving). The pedal has more braking power/strength but still feels less than 100%. Swear I felt a cable-type tension once or twice, like pushing the parking brake on, as I braked. (No, the parking break isn’t and wasn’t on.)

What I don’t get is why the first few miles were OK after the repair and now they’re getting progressively worse again with the noise and lessening brake power.


Is the clicking constant and even? Could it be a CV joint?

Ranger, apparently not 4wd?

Yes, it’s not 4wd – just rear wheel drive. The clicking is pretty constant and even, but doesn’t happen every time I depress the brake pedal (most times, but not all). Can’t figure out a pattern to when I get the clicks - after the truck is warmed up, not warmed up, going a certain speed, brakes getting more pressure or less…

What’s a CV joint? (I’m not a mechanic – took it to one for the work)

You don’t have a CV joint. A CV joint, short for “constant velocity” joint, is a special joint used in the drive axles of FWD vehicles to allow the axle to articulate to sharp angles while under power without the ooscillations inherant in a universal joint. U-joints can only tolerate small angles of articulation. CV joints accomplish this by having basically a ball & socket with slots and ball bearings in them (simplified description). When they dry up or wear you can hear the components of the joint clicking.

You may have a wheel bearing going.

Wheel bearing - ugh. Well, that’s one thing I haven’t had replaced in the last week. It is back in the shop for the 4th time in a week – master cylinder was replaced this morning, and the clicking came back while I was driving it home from the dealership. Of course I drove it straight back with instructions for them to drive it more tomorrow. I’m completely baffled, as are they. Front brakes look OK but the pedal doesn’t feel right when I depress it - but it doesn’t happen every time (maybe 2 out of 3). It definitely sounds and feels like it’s coming from the front left wheel.

Do bearings fail intermittently, like master cylinders can? Is there a valve that could be causing this? Or, if the rotors weren’t resurfaced smoothly enough, could the naked eye miss it with just visual inspection? Thanks for the replies so far!