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

Stuck brake caliper or something else?

2007 Chevy Impala 1LT
43,000 miles
Auto trans
6 cyl Flex Fuel engine

Recent repairs:
New struts all 4 wheels
Wheel bearing replaced on one wheel
New tires all 4 wheels
Alignment all 4 wheels
Minor body repairs to pinch weld directly under drivers seat
All done due to hitting upraised section of paving on interstate at 70 mph, bottoming out car, and damaging the components that were replaced/repaired .

Current New Problem:
Since getting the car back have noticed a metal on metal noise from one of the wheels, can’t be sure which one, that definitely is related to the speed of wheel rotation. Best way I can describe the sound is a softer, more sibilant version of what railroad car wheels sound like when going around a curved section of track.

Since the sound is new since the repairs were done, I’m assuming there is a cause/affect connection.

I’m wondering if there is a stuck brake caliper? Any other ideas what it could be???

I have a Friday morning appointment with the mechanic shop that did the repair work.

Thank you.

…still reading, still learning…

Does the noise go away when you hit the brake?
Just lift each wheel off the ground and turn it by hand. You should be able to hear it so you can at least tell what wheel it is coming from.

Thank you for your response RemcoW.

Yes, the sound stops briefly when I tap the brakes but comes back within seconds.

Due to physical limitations, I cannot jack the car up myself to turn individual wheels. But the mechanic’s shop I go to is very trustworthy and I trust them to deal fairly with me. They have always done so for the past 15+ years. If they in any way caused this problem while doing the recent work on the car, I know they will fix it at no cost to me.

Just wondering about possible causes of the noise??? Could it have anything to do with the wheel bearing repair? A stuck brake caliper? Something else?

Could be wheel bearing, could be a stuck caliper, maybe a caliper that’s not floating, maybe a ‘wear alert’ tab all brake pads have. It would be quite difficult to tell remotely without any other clues like where it appears to be coming from, unfortunately.
Since it stops when you hit the brake, my first guess would be the pads. Maybe the seating of them, maybe the floating pin has run out of grease, etc.

Since you trust your mechanic and he’s been taking care of you, you’re likely in good hands.

Okay. Thank you, sir. :slight_smile:

Not all brake pads have a wear alert tab.

How do wear alert tabs actually “alert” the car owner?

If I had to describe it, it would be a more sibilant version of what railroad car wheels sound like when going around a curved section of track. :wink:

Brake Backing Plate ? It Could Have Been Distorted If Struts Or Wheels Were Actually Bent.

Touching the brakes could center the rotors and calipers just enough to enlarge the clearance between the backing plate and rotor.


Could be the brake backing plate - they can get dented/bent while working on brakes & could cause that sound.

Thank you for all the responses. Gives me an idea of what to expect when the shop looks it over. I’m aware that this may or may not have been caused by the work done and/or the original road hazard impact. So I’m making no assumptions other than to note to the mechanic that the sound is new since the work was done, not new since the impact, only new since the repairs were made.

Thank you all very much for the help.

RemcoW, I’m getting a chuckle out of your answer to how alert tabs alert drivers. Lesson tucked away for future reference! :slight_smile:

Marnet, wear alert tabs alert the owner by starting to rub on the rotors when the pads get too thin. They can make squealing sounds or metallic rubbing sounds. It’s basically just a little metal clip with a tab clipped to one caliper pad. You can see it in tyhe attached drawing referenced as a “pad wear indicator plate”.

Ah! Thank you Mountainbike.

Quite frankly, I won’t be surprised to find that I need to have the brakes done. These are the original brakes with about 43,000 miles on them, primarily in stop and go local driving. I did have the brake lines flushed and new brake fluid this time last year, about 10,000 miles ago. But at that time the brake pads still had plenty of life in them so they are still the originals from when I bought the car new 6 years ago.

If it turns out that I do need brakes, I am going to raise the question of why that wasn’t brought to my attention at the time they were doing all the other work, given that the wheels had to come off to put on new tires and the brakes would have been quite visible when that was done. I had meant to ask for that to be specifically checked and let me know how much life was left in the brakes, but I was so darned sick with the flu at the time that I didn’t remember to ask. Normally I always inquire every time the tires are rotated. The old tires that were just replaced had been rotated only 5,000 miles ago and at that time the brakes were reported to still have lots of life in them.

Oh well, one way or the other I’ll find out this Friday.

I too would have expected them to look, but unless they’re asked to they don;t always. At 43,000 miles, you’re probably due.
The good news is that checking the pads is a quick, easy task…at least for those that don;t have physical disabilities (I do)… I’m sure your mechanic will do you well. Post back with he result.

Hey, y’know what, I’m going to search the internet for inspection prisms. I have inspection mirrors, but I can never seem to get them into the spaces and angled right. I’ve tried a borescope, but that’s too limited in focal length. I might have a new idea for a product!

You might have the axle nut re-torqued on the side where the wheel bearing was replaced

Keith, I don’t know what an axle nut is. Could you please explain further? I don’t understand if you mean this item needs to be tightened, loosened, or what? Thank you.

Mountainbike, hey, the prism idea is worth pursuing. That’s how new products get developed!

Yes, the warning tab makes a scraping noise which usually does not happen when the brakes are applied. It goes away.

One of my friends was about to go on a trip when his wear indicator tab began to scrape on the rotor, causing the noise. He asked me if it was OK to go on his 600 mile round trip. I told him it was OK if he changed his brake pads when he came back. He then tore the wear tabs off with pliers.

The brakes were the least of his series of unfortunate events. His engine broke and had to be replaced somewhere in Maine. I went there with him but forgot where it was. They put an older engine in the car but it was a good one and gave us no problems. I say us because I bought the 75 Caprice Classic from him and it got over 17 MPG on the highway.

He got married and on the return trip to the top of Maine his friend probably fell asleep while driving and spun the car which took two tires off the wheels, disabling the car at about three AM.

As long as you drive well and the engine doesn’t fall apart, you should have no serious problem. You rite yore postings gooder than us do. Thanks for the sufficient info. Don’t let me anywhere near a car unless my tool box is miles away.

I just drove an Impala LXI or LTI and I was impressed with the 30 MPG highway. It had 4,000 miles on it. The 18" wheels and tires were great on wet roads at speeds above 75 MPH. 75 is the speed limit between Old Town and Houlton Me. The heater controls were almost useless. They sell for around $30,000 loaded as those models are. If you’re ready for the new one and you have the cash / credit, you know what to do; buy a Mustang with a V-8! No, the Impalas seem good.

Pleasedodgevan2, your friend’s trip sounds like quite an “adventure.”

As to driving an Impala, I’m quite content to have 16 inch tires, thank you; much less expensive to replace than the 17 or 18 inch versions! Perhaps not quite as fun a driving experience but more affordable.

On the highway I regularly get between 29 to 33 mpg. Mixed highway and in town driving yields an average of about 22 to 23 mg. Worst I get is when I’m driving only a total of 5 to 8 miles in a single trip with some 3 to 6 stops for various errands (grocery, pharmacy, veterinarian, pet store, etc.) in heavy stop and go traffic with lots of sitting at long stop lights. Then I get no more than about 18 mpg. Since that type of driving, which is the bulk of what I do, is hard on a car, I keep the oil changed every 3,000 to 3,500 miles. I’m also on the second battery and expect to replace it within another year. I try to make time (and room in the budget for gas) to give the car at least one good longer drive each week and also to drive it far enough to warm up the engine each time I do go out, even if just to drive about 5 extra miles down to a park and back, so that I at least burn out most of the condensation from a cold engine.

As to the warning tabs scraping noise going away when the brakes are applied, that is what happens with the noise I’m hearing. But it comes back again within seconds. That’s why I had wondered about a stuck brake caliper. Hadn’t remembered about the warning tabs although I should have; I’ve certainly read them mentioned enough times here on the forum.

We Run 3 Impalas In Our Family Fleet, Now. The First One Triggered More. I Can’t Wait Until The 2014s Come Out. I Believe They’ll Be Introduced Early, Probably Spring Of 2013.