Brake noise is a noise which many of us are familiar with. It generally starts once our brakes begin to wear out as a signal, warning us that the brakes will most likely need to be changed in the near future. How this works is that on the brake pads there's a special metal clip that only makes contact with your rotors once the brakes have worn down to a certain point. It's usually right around when you have about a quarter of an inch or so of brake pad left. This clip creates a noise that's pretty easily recognizable letting you know that you'll need to either schedule an appointment with your mechanic, or else replace the brake pads yourself.
  But why does this noise sound horrible, like metal grinding on metal? That is because it actually is metal grinding on metal. The metal clip on the brake pad begins to make contact with the metal rotor and the sound erupts from within the wheel as the sound of grinding metal. This is often very disconcerting for people, especially if it's this is the first time you've heard that noise before. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that their brake pads have already totally worn down and that the grinding they hear is the sound of the metal of the brake system grinding against the metal rotor.
While this is a possibility, the most likely explanation is that the early warning brake system clip is finally starting to engage the rotor when you brake and is letting you know that you need to change your brakes soon.

   A lot of people ask the question, how long do I have from the time the noise begins until I need to replace the brakes? Unfortunately, it is impossible to say. A lot of it depends on your driving habits, how heavy the car is, and the brand of the brake pads you're using. To be safe, it is recommended that you change your pads as quickly as you can once you start hearing the noise. Replacing your brake pads is a somewhat simple process, as far as vehicle repairs go, and only a handful of tools are necessary. You can purchase new brake pads inexpensively at just about any local auto part's shop. If you have done work on vehicles in the past, and if you like to service your own vehicle, why not save some money by replacnig your own brake pads. However, if you do not feel comfortable working on your own car, especially in an area like the brakes, which can cause a dangerous or deadly situation if not changed correctly, then definitely leave it to the professionals to deal with.
About the Author
Squeaky brakes make a very annoying sound. Together with belt squeal, these terrible noises can make a car sound as though it's about to explode. Get the problems handled quickly.
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We will start with disc brake noise. The most common complaint after a disc brake service is noise. Brake pads are often singled out as the cause. However, the friction material does not generate the majority of brake noise. ..More Information
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Brake Noise Causes - What's Happened To My Brakes?   by Ben Mester
   If you are concerned about it, one method to discern what the noise is is by listening to it when you're not hitting your brakes. If there's still a noise of metal on metal even when you're not braking, that is because the metal clip wears down slower than the brake pads, and it's still slightly pressing against the rotor even when you aren't actively braking. So if that's the case with what you're experiencing, then most probably the noise you are hearing from your wheels is from the early warning clip that's telling you to change your brake pads.
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