The never ending car problem


Hi board.

In june new brake drums were put on our 98 civic. After install they began making a cranking/scraping noise int he rear right hand side that kept rythm with how fast the car was going. The sound only occurs when braking and the brake pedal will shake, and the tempo of the scraping sound depends on how fast the wheel is moving. The sound is clearly coming from the rear wheel well.

We took it back to the shop, had the drums shaved round, replaced the pads, adjusted the tension, and went back on the road. After 1 day the sound was back, and louder.

This time we took the car back, had them completely replace the brake drums and pads to rule out defective product, so now weve had two sets of new drums on the car but it still makes this terrible creaking sound when braking. The sound is now starting to happen even when driving without applying the brake.

This issue has been looked at by three “brake expert” chains, one of those stores even looked at the drums and adjusted them twice, and the sound is still there. They say its just a loud brake and that its safe to drive.

Because im not comfortable with loud cranking and scraping sounds coming from my car when I brake, I took the car to a licensed mechanic, (two mechanics actually, in between trips to the “brake experts” I had it looked at independently). Both licensed mechanics say its warped drums or bad adjustments, that I should just take it back and have it replaced where purchased.

So here I have two mechanics telling me its a brake drum out of round/adjustment error, but when the brake drums are replaced and adjusted, the problem remains. What to do?!

Any help is appreciated, I hope this made sense.


Insist to the first mechanic that he replaces the drums and pads with OEM parts


Since you have drum brakes I’ll throw out a possibility, although this problem really should not be hard to figure out. It’s strange that many people have been through this much trouble on something so simple.

Let me ask this first. Does this car have steel wheels on it or alloys?

If it has steel wheels, here is something I’ve seen a few times over the years. Sometimes when tires are replaced or a flat is repaired a tire shop/service station may use an air wrench to really hammer the lug nuts down, especially when it comes to steel wheels.

This can actually distort the center hub of the wheel where the lugs nuts clamp down. After the brake drums are resurfaced or replaced the distorted wheels will immediately warp those just resurfaced or new brake drums even if the lug nuts are torqued down properly.

In a nutshell, tightening the lugs will distort the drum rather than straighten the wheel.
The only cure for this is to replace the wheels or machine the drums with the wheels in place with the lugs properly torqued.

I have no idea if this is the cause or not, but is something to consider if the car has steel wheels.
We had a dealer demo Subaru in the shop once that had an annoying rear brake noise (VERY loud) and it was caused by distorted rear wheels. No idea how that happened on a car with only 400 miles on it.
(The distorted wheels had no affect on the front wheels due to the fact they were bolted to a flat wheel hub and no drum is involved.)

We rotated the front wheels to the back and the noise went away. Swap them back again, and voila, the noise returns. Replaced both rear wheels and problem solved.

Hope that suggestion helps anyway.


I beleive they are factory steel wheels.

If the lugs are causing the wheel to rotate in a way that causes this sound, will this happen even when the wheels are rotated? I tried to rule out the wheel as a problem by getting the tires rotated and balanced but the sound continued.

Is there a way to tell by looking at the tire to see if the lugs/how the wheel is put on is whats causing the problem?



Five people can’t figure this out. All they have to do is remove the wheels, let off the parking brake and turn the drum in place. I think they will find that the first “expert” distorted the backing plate while prying off the drums. Now the drums are hitting the backing plate every time the drum rotates. Now they buy you a new backing plate, but they will probably try to pry it back into shape, at least enough to not hit the drum.