Another car brakes question: scraping

A couple months ago I drove over a curb-like road divider that was buried in snow and got a jolt. A couple weeks ago I noticed that the rear right brake made a scraping sound when applied, and there’s also some scraping sounds at low speeds that stop when I hit about 40 mph. Obviously something’s up with the brake on that wheel. Any suggestions as to what it might be and any ideas as to what a repair might cost?

It could just be worn down, most brakes make some sort of a scraping sound when they wear down, they’re designed that way. Different cars do it differently, some will make the sound you are braking, some will make it when you’re NOT breaking. So, questions, what type of brakes do you have on that wheel, disc or drum? When was the last time they were replaced? Are you SURE it’s that wheel, sometimes it sounds like it’s coming from one wheel when it’s actually a different one. Sometimes you can help decide which wheel is actually making the noise by driving near a wall (ie freeway divider) or under a bridge and listening to the sound bouncing off the walls. One more thing, how handy/comfortable are you with pulling your tires/brakes off?

Disc brakes will often have a Splash Guard that can get bent and cause a scraping sound.

But my first guess is that the scraping sound isn’t related to the jolt, it’s simply a worn out pad. The longer you drive with it making the scraping sound, the higher the likelyhood that you’ll be purchasing new rotors with your brake pads.

Can I get a make, model, year on the car to give you a ballpark estimate?

It’s a Nissan Altima, can’t recall the year but it’s 02 or later. Dunno what kind of brakes it has. I’m sure it’s coming from the right rear wheel.

I get paid next Friday and I’m planning on taking it in Monday so I’m hoping I don’t destroy anything vital before then.

Just so you know, brakes are dirt cheap, if you can change them yourself. If you can’t they’re still somewhat reasonable. I think I changed both my front brakes and rotors for about $30 or $40 last summer. (And they started squelling again a few days ago, maybe it was two summers ago).

Okay, did some real quick searches, based on a 02 Altima (don’t remember the engine I picked), looks like you’ll be spending about $50(+/-) for all four brake PADS (only pads came up, so you should have discs all around, atleast the 02 probably does) and about $35 for each rotor. If you get them changed soon, you’re rotors will probably be just fine though, so I wouldn’t be worried about that, besides if the grooves arn’t too deep and the rotors arn’t too warped it’s usually alot cheaper to have them turned. I guess I should have thought about the fact that you have a Nissan before I said how much I spent, Nissan parts (IME) tend to be about 3X the price of domestic car parts.

If you have a V6 (Which I searched under) the pads run from $38 to $75 and rotors $47 to $58. Throw in a Haynes manual for around 15 bucks, and the grand total (It’s recommended that you replace brakes in pairs, so both rear or both front) is $185 to $281. Bringing it in will be anywhere from $300 to $800. The Haynes manual will pay for itself.

If the rotor comes with oil or grease on it, be sure to clean it thoroughly, brake cleaner works, but I find rubbing alcohol to be cheap an effective.

I believe that the pads come in boxes of four so that should greatly reduce the price, and the Haynes manual is a great resource to have around anyways.

Oh, and even if the rotors don’t come with any grease/oil on them, sometimes they have a thin film of plastic on them. Like NurseCarmen said, you need to remove, I’ve never used rubbing alcohol, but BrakeKleen works great (you can also kill small rodents with it) and so does soap and water, the trick is trying to hold a heavy awkward rotor and turn it without dropping it in the sink. Oh, two more things if you’ve never done this before…One) have EVERYTHING you may need near you, there’s a point in the installation when you’re holding the caliper in your hand and reaching around for tools. Two) if you ignore number one (or incase your forget something), have some wire near you. If you do need to move away, you’ll want to use the wire to hang the caliper from something else under the car, don’t let it hang from the brake line (if you brake the brake line you’ll have alot more work ahead of you). Wait, three things, do one brake at a time, this way you have an example. If possible, get the entire rear end off the ground, take off both wheels, and then work one side at a time.

Places like Pep Boys will check your brakes for free. May as well take advantage of that to figure out what’s wrong. They will tell you what the wear levels are on the pads and rotors, so you will know whether you need to replace either of them. How many miles do you have on this set of pads/rotors?

I also have a 2002 Altima, and I’ve had the pads replaced once, and the rotors resurfaced once. The rotors are thin now, so I’m going to overhaul the entire system. I’ve purchased four new non-OEM rotors for $150 shipped (OEM rotors are known for warping), Performance Friction Z-Rated Front pads for $50, Stainless Steel Brake Lines for $110, and some Synthetic Brake fluid for $20. I’ll update when I find out what it costs to install it all, but I don’t expect it to be more than $200-300.

Turns out both rear rotors were ground down, the left one not too badly but the right one to the point where it needed to be replaced. The left one was machined back to where it was supposed to be, the right one was replaced and new pads for both. Less than $300 for all parts and labor, which since there’s no way I could have done it myself I’m OK with. Would’ve rather spent my last couple weeks of poker winnings on something else but what are ya gonna do.