Is this car safe to drive to the shop? Metal on metal noise from front wheel

As I drove slowly on the gravel road to our home, I hear a loud metal on metal noise - thought the neighbor might be doing using heavy machinery on his pasture - but realized it was coming from my car. Turned into the drive and stopped. Husband came out to listen, said it sounds like brake capilpers. He is not mechanically inclined, but could be right on a good day. Drove it into the garage, can’t see anything hanging down, but don’t know if it will cause more damage driving it 7 miles to the shop. Should it be towed?

I would say Yes, have it towed. Why take a chance on a front wheel failing on the way there and crash and have even more expenses.

I’m surprised your husband let it go that far! Front brakes start giving warning long before the pads are down to the metal. On my Toyota they started a chirping sound when the pads were down to less than 1/32. That was the time to get them replaced.

As advised, have the car towed as driving it further may cause more and expensive damage. Have both pads and rotors replaced!

Good luck!

Disc brakes have gadgets called “wear pads” that are designed to make a really horrible sounding noise when the brake pads are almost worn out. The idea is the owner hears that noise and takes the car to the shop immediately. Which is a good thing b/c if the brake pads wear any more the car won’t stop well, and the rotors will be quickly ruined when the exposed rivets start digging into them. Usually when the pads are almost worn out you start to notice that sound as you apply the brakes more than just driving on the road. But on a rough road you might start to hear it without applying the brakes. So a trip to the shop is in order asap. Tow or drive? No way to tell over the internet. You’d have to have a shop tech inspect the car where it is now before you’d know if it could be safely driven or would need to be towed. And of course it might not be the brakes at all.


They’re called Wear Tabs.


A stone may be stuck between the brake rotor and caliper bracket or the shield. The wheel will have to be removed for close inspection.

I can’t recommend driving the vehicle but most people do when this occurs, it may cause light scratches in the brake rotor, usually no real damage.


Should have mentioned car has 65k miles on it, had Volvo 60k service at 61k. No mention of brake pad wear. The noise came on so suddnely, I like the stone being stuck suggestion. Thanks to everyone who weighed in, I will have it towed to the shop.

Sounds like a good decision. Best of luck.

I was thinking a piece of gravel too since the wear indicators only go off when braking. If it was me I’d drive it but you could have it towed if you don’t feel safe. Just on the aside though, I have trouble hearing those wear indicators because they seem to be at a frequency no longer heard by me. My wife seems to catch it though.

I had this exact same issue happen to me. It was a small rock (gravel) that got stuck between the brake rotor and shield behind the rotor. It was easy to fix after I got the wheel off.

Good luck to you.

Thanks, I’m hoping that’s all it is. Considering the cost of repairs, having it towed seems the smart thing to do.

You didn’t say if you are driving on the original pads.If so, I would think that at 65k miles your brake pads are worned down to the metal and what you are hearing is metal to metal contact.Get a brake inspection ASAP.

My Wife had the same situation in her Prelude. She drove to her Sister’s house and called to say there was a horrible noise coming from the right rear wheel. I reached under and moved the shield. A piece of gravel fell out. It was very flat where it had been ground down.

Previously (In 47 years) my wife got her Barracuda stuck on a rock but caused no damage to the body work, exhaust or gas tank. The key broke off in her Fiat’s ignition, but it still worked, even with my key. However, when the clutch or clutch hydraulics failed on her MG Midget, I sold it where it broke down.

In my case, it was a fairly-new rental car, so I was confident that it was not an issue of worn (not “worned”!!) brake pads. There were no shops open because this took place on The 4th of July, on the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington, so I had little choice but to keep driving. Luckily, after ~100 miles, the rock shattered and suddenly the noise was gone.

After considering all replies, I called the shop this a.m. and asked for a tow, but they could not do it today. So I decided to drive it there. As I backed out of the garage, I heard no noise. As I drove down the driveway, I heard no noise. Whatever was stuck in there, is gone. I’m so glad I didn’t have it towed first and then learn the noise was gone! Some days, things work out.

Thanks, every one of you, for your help.

just backing up may have freed it. Great result!