Grinding noise from brakes, 99 Ford Ranger Original Owner



1999 Ranger, about this time of the year, usually when very wet outside, When I apply the brakes, I get the most horrendous grinding noise from the front passenger side wheel. It literally sounds like rivets scraping directly on the brake disk.

It will soon go away. When I first heard it, a few years ago, I went into a panic and had the brakes checked. They were fine! The next year it happened again, and this time the brakes were replaced.

Once again, the grinding is back. It does not happen throughout the year, only late January. The truck garages and is not used much as I life 10 miles from work. It has 130K miles. There is no problem with actual braking and it does not pull to the right or left. “Check Engine Light” is not on.

Even people on the sidewalk are startled at the noise.

Thoughts appreciated.


I wonder if your brake pads are very hard (like ceramic), if they are you have the same brake squeal I get once in a while.

Mine squeals on the first light application, sometimes twice, then no more until maybe the next time I use it, sometimes no squeal. Being retired, the car isn’t used every day.

When I bought the (used) Toyota Matrix early '09, the dealership replaced the rotors, pads and tires.

I took the car to my independent tech and he inspected the brales and said there is no damage to the rotors, but because they put ceramic pads on they sometimes squeal.

The brakes will stop the car on a dime and give you 9 cents change so I know they work well.

Wet weather causes overnight rust build up on all rotors but normally the grinding is more like a growling not a sharp, high pitched squeal.

Summer time brings quiet braking.


Is it the antilock sensor causing it to fire? Does the brake pedal vibrate radically? First time my 95 fired the antilock I thought I tore the front end out. Are you cornering when it happens, or it does not matter?

Check Engine would have nothing to do with this.


Believe me, it is not just a rattle or a squeal. I feel it in the clutch pedal, I feel it in the steering wheel, even in the stick shift! People on the sidewalk turn to check out the noise. If I have not had this previously go away as quickly as it shows up, I would be scared to drive the truck. I, it only seem to be there in January after a long cold (in the teens) spell, then a warm spell (in the mid 30s) and a very humid cold long all day rain. The rest of the year, there is absolutely no problem and the brakes check out as good with significant padding still there and no signs of wear.

The antilock question is curious though. Ever since I purchased the truck (as new) the ABS light has come on and off randomly. The dealership has never been able to figure it out. They have replaced the module with no change. Since then it has been on and off many times without the brake noise so I doubt that it is indicative of anything to do with the noise.

I did forget to mention that I had the emergency brake cables replaced as it was sticking enough to over heat the brakes and prevent me from coasting down small inclines. The noise occurred before the replacement and now after. I doubt that there is a link here either

I will be having a specialist look at it again on Friday. I hope that Thursday’s rain/snow event will help enhance it for the next morning. This time, we are going to look for any kind of wear (metal on metal) elsewhere in the system. After all this grinding, something, somewhere, has to show wear…

It feels like a rock gets stuck in the brake pad and grinds on the rotor but there is never any signs of wear on the rotor. Several mechanics have looked at this. Could the caliper be scraping elsewhere than where the pads meet?

Still, other thoughts from here will be helpful.