Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Low pitched brake noise at start up

A 2003 Nissan Maxima. The brakes were rebuilt about a year ago, and were fine for 6 months. Maybe 3000 miles. Then they developed the following behavior.

In the morning or after being parked for a while (parking brake off) when backing out of the garage they’d make a low pitched but quite audible rubbing noise, and then also going forward, the same noise. Whumpa space Whumpa space Whumpa. There is no braking effect, and the behavior does not happen every day – maybe once every three days.

While driving forward at low speed, gently pressing the brake pedal or gently pulling up on the parking brake lever quiets the noise, and it does not recur that session. The noise seems to originate in the rear of the car, consistent with it’s being affected by the parking brake. The brakes function perfectly otherwise.


This is caused by FLASH RUST on your brake calipers. Next time you let the car sit…esp after a rainstorm…or a few days of no useage…look at your front wheels…you should be able to see thru the wheel spaces to the rotor behind UNLESS you have hubcaps. At any rate if you were to take a peek you would see your rotor covered in Rust…a light coating…it get scraped off and then polished again by the useage of your brakes/brake pads. Quite normal…however…it is more common in cheaper aftermarket rotors… The OEM rotors dont suffer from this as much because the Cast Iron is of much higher quality.

This is going to continue as I am sure you have aftermarket rotors on the car. The noise is from that flash rust being scraped off…The space you hear in between the noise is the spot where the rotor stopped with the brake pads sheltering the rotor from ambient air and the rust. There is Sadly a BIG difference in the quality of rotors from one mfg to another and anything deviating from OEM unless the new rotors were made by a reputable co…I hope they didnt install rotors made of CHINESEUM on your Max…

This is usually an indicator of inferior rotors…although it does still happen to the best of them, just not as quickly or as bad

I agree. Most likely rust on the rotors. Happens to all cars, not just yours.