Help! My car sounds like Death Star before blowing up a planet!

2010 Toyota Corolla with 58,000 miles. When I drive, the first few times I hit the brakes, my car does this incredible hum from mid-high to deep-low and it sounds just like the Death Star from the first Star Wars movie–Y’know the sound when the Death Star is powering down just before it destroys an entire planet? The weird thing is that it goes away after the a minute of driving.

This car drives great, the brakes feel good, and I can’t complain about it other than this crazy hum. I need to sell this vehicle, and obviously I can’t have a car that replicates a movie sound effect from the late 70’s.

Nobody can definitively diagnose this problem from afar, but I am about 98% certain that the problem is merely the result of rust that is building-up on the brake rotors as the car sits between uses. Given the fact that this car has driven–on average–less than 6k miles per year for the past decade, this suggests that it isn’t driven on a daily basis. And, in the Era of COVID, you may be driving it less often than previously.

While the noise may be alarming, it is not dangerous, and it is completely normal when a car sits, even for as little as a day or two. However, if this really concerns you, I think that you need to drop it off at a mechanic’s shop at the end of the day and have the mechanic drive it the next day, after it sits. More than likely, if he is an honest mechanic, he will concur that it is just a case of normal rust on the brake rotors.


Wrong forum… try the Obi Wan Kenobi forum :grin:

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I have to confess that I have no clue whatsoever as to what the “Death Star” sounded like, but given the description of something that goes away after a short period of driving, I think that I am correct about this being brake rotor rust that is worn-off by braking a few times.

Thanks VDCdriver, your assertion seems right on. The only other thing I can think of, is that maybe it’s a lubrication/grease issue with the axle or wheel bearings?

Think about this:
If the wheel bearings were dry, wouldn’t the problem be exacerbated by driving, rather than being resolved (albeit temporarily, until the next time that you drove)-- after driving for a few minutes? However, only someone who can examine the car “up close and personal” can tell you for sure.

Concur. Axle joints are pretty much sealed and wheel bearings are permanently lubed. The last car I had that needed the wheel bearings greased was my 59 Pontiac.


Thanks so much VDCDriver and Bing.

Ford trucks . . . SuperDuty, not F-150 . . . still have front wheel bearings that need to be greased and adjusted

And they’re common as dirt . . . doesn’t look like they’re going away from that setup any time soon

Cheap brake pads sometimes make a “growl” sound when braking at low speeds when cold, after the pads heat up they are usually quiet.