Ticking/clicking from the driver's side dash when braking downhill?

When braking when going down a hill, there is a rapid ticking sound from the driver’s side of the dash.
Here’s a link to some video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/6sdByYRGREcdE3Mu8

It doesn’t happen when I push only slightly down on the pedal, but when it reaches a certain point. There is only very slight vibration in the wheel, and none at all in the brake pedal. The braking action seems fine (but not as good as a new car). No warning lights come on (like the ABS). The mechanic says the brake pads are good.

I’ve read through some explanations that have similarities and target vibrations and the rotors. But none that I’ve found mention that clicking noise from the dash which is the most pronounced symptom.

Part two- If the consensus if indeed the rotors, which ones do you recommend?

A good place to start is to look at the rotors and judge which ones look the worst. It’s easy if the wheels have big holes to look through. This looking around doesn’t automatically solve the problem but it’s a good idea to use all the observational powers that we have. After all; mechanical skills just make you tired if you work on the wrong project. Please name your car and state the year just for those of us who may have experience with your specific car with your specific mileage.

I saw how awful my front rotors looked and just started there. I bought the front ones and the pads and changed them and had no results. I changed the left rear which looked kinda new. On the fourth day I got close to the right rear and the rotor looked really bad. I got lucky and changed the rotor and pads and the problem was gone. The caliper must have been stuck but I figured it would work well enough if I compressed it and tried it out. I was right. I drove it for six more years and then traded it.

It was a 2002 GMC Sierra half ton 4WD pickup and the work was difficult for me because everything was heavy and the brake carrier bolts were big and were tight at 200 Lb Ft of torque. That’s why it took four days.

Thank you for your insights. The car is a 2012 Toyota Camry. I don’t see anything obviously wrong in the area. So, I’m inclined to think that the problem is something closer to the dash (maybe a component behind it?) as that’s where the sound is coming from and my mechanic said the brakes look fine.

That almost sounds like a solenoid clicking/going crazy… will it do it while the vehicle is not moving??

Could the noise becoming from the gear shifter area??


Nope. Only when I’m braking and going down a hill.

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“Braking and going downhill” – Just a guess, but maybe it has to do with the engine moving forward (from combined forces of gravity plus the deceleration). Maybe failed motor mount/s is/are allowing too much movement, leading to I-don’t-know-what.

Locating sounds from inside the (moving) car is tricky. Maybe it’s not really behind the dash. Or maybe it does not originate right behind the dash.

The sound is more regular and plasticky if you can imagine that. In fact you can listen to the sound on the video link I posted. It doesn’t sound metallic.

The degree of the incline doesn’t seem to matter as much as the pressure on the brake pedal. Light pressure, no noise. But push just past that and it starts the rapid click. So it definitely has some relationship to the brakes.

Sure sounds like it’s right behind the left side of the dash, but it could be anywhere in that driver’s side front area.

Well, it was just a guess – trying to diagnose from the circumstances rather than from the symptoms. And I did not mean that the noise was from the engine clunking into something when it moved. Rather, maybe when the engine moved, part of it touched something else. Wild speculative examples: engine pulley or serpentine belt rubbing against something; something in the drive train between the transaxle and the wheel getting pushed out of line.

Anything like that would give a click rate that varied with engine speed or road speed. Have you observed such variation, or is the click/buzz always the same?

You say the degree of incline doesn’t matter so much. Have you tried braking hard while on a level road? (I’ll bet you have!) Have you tried braking while coasting downhill in Neutral?

I have an even wilder notion that it could be something in the power braking system. How about the corresponding experiment: get the rear end higher than the front (ramps? jack stands?), and step on the brake (engine running, in neutral) to see if that causes the clicking.

I’m just trying to think of ways to differentiate among various possible sources.

To me it sounds like it has something to do with the ABS system.

No. It’s definitely from right in front or the left of the driver area.

Oooh! Lots of things to check out here. Some I can do, some I don’t have the space or knowledge for. But I’ll see how much I can do and try to rule things out.

I did see that mentioned on another forum. Could I temporarily remove the ABS fuse to test the theory? Just how much control is lost when I do that (just so I can be prepared?) Anything else I should watch for when doing this? (I know the dash light will come on.)

The other possibilities I’ve seen mentioned are a faulty wheel speed sensor, ABS Reluctor Ring (tone ring), or other axel problem.

My hope is that someone sees the description of symptoms and says, “Oh yeah! I had that exact problem and this was the cause.”

I live in a condo, so no onsite work allowed and mechanics are expensive. So anything I can do to narrow it down is much appreciated.


None if you don’t make a panic type stop.

Your brakes will work just fine, you just won’t have anti-lock.


Update- I haven’t had a chance (the courage) to remove the ABS fuses and drive on a hill yet. (There are two - #6 & #9) But I did pay closer attention to when the ticking happens and it is always when the wheel is straight. If I’m turning while breaking, it doesn’t make the noise.

Given that new piece of information, are there any additional or revised pieces of advice?

Just make sure there is nothing in the left dash pocket that is vibrating while braking due to warped rotors… Or the pocket door vibrating… you would be surprised at what all can make noises that is not the vehicles fault…Not saying that is your issue, but I would defiantly take 30 seconds and look and remove anything in the pocket and see if it helped or not…

The best one was a customer came in and said he got a slight dink noise turning left and almost the same noise turning right, so when I test drove it I confirmed the noise, it would only “dink” once either way and only while turning… I pulled over and looked under the drivers seat to find an empty long neck rolling back and forth… :rofl:

Another time it was a very strange rattle noise coming from the back of the vehicle, looked under the spare tire board and found a bunch of pencils…

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That’s hilarious! I’ve pretty much eliminated the obvious. But I’ll take another look just to be sure.

And for the win- In case anyone stumbles upon this post:
Turns out it was the Steering Damper & Spacer! A rather expensive repair due to the time involved. But the sound is now gone!


I’m glad you got the problem diagnosed & repaired. Seems like an important one. If your car experiences weird unexplained sound in the future, find a shop who uses a product called “chassis ears”. This allows them to position microphones here and there, then test drive the car while listening to the sounds the microphones pick up, one by one.

Now that’s a great idea for a product! Fortunately, the mechanic I found has pretty good ears and a LOT of experience, a real car whisperer. (I really hope he doesn’t retire any time soon!)
He drove it for five minutes and told me exactly what was wrong. He noted some other noises that were in the background and were being masked by the primary noise. But unlike some places, he explained exactly how long I could put those off! LOL!