Have you ever felt that clunking noise when braking? It can be irritating, especially if it happens often. Auto mechanics will tell you that it’s just the pads and rotors wearing down.
Brake clunking is a common problem due to several causes, including pads, rotors, calipers, or the hydraulic system. Here are the common causes of clunking noise while braking.
1. Worn or Defective Anti-rattle Clip
The clunking sound can be caused by a worn or defective anti-rattle clip. The anti-rattle clip is a piece of plastic that holds the brake pads in place.
If the clip is worn, it will allow the brake pads to move around and make a clunking sound when you brake. If this is the problem, you should replace the clip as soon as possible to reduce the risk of further damage to your vehicle.
2. A Worn, Loose, or Broken Bracket
Another possibility is a worn, loose, or broken bracket. A bracket is part of the disc brake assembly and holds your rotor in place. If it becomes damaged, you’ll hear a clunking noise when you press the brake pedal while driving.
3. Loose Bolts
Just like a whining noise while driving, loose bolts can cause a clunking noise when braking, accelerating, turning, or going over bumps. A loose bolt is any bolt that’s not tight enough to hold its intended part in place. The problem can range from a slight movement of the part being held by the bolt to a complete dislocation of the part.
4. Bad CV Joints
If you hear a clunking sound when braking, it’s essential to have your car checked. If your CV joints have gone bad, they can cause the axle shaft to come loose and cause damage to other parts of your vehicle. However, if one of these joints is damaged but not yet causing any problems, you may not need immediate repairs.
The best way to tell if your CV joints are responsible for causing this clunking noise when braking is by checking out their condition: Are they cracked? Do they have uneven wear or gaps between them? If so, it might be time for a replacement.
5. Bad Brake Pads
As the brake pads wear down, they will begin to scrape against the rotor, creating a squealing sound. This is normal and should not be confused with a clunking sound.
The brake pad material should be replaced when worn down to the metal surface of your brake disc (or rotor). If you hear a scraping noise or feel vibrations through your pedal as you press it, that indicates that it’s time to replace your pads.
6. Worn Bushings
A bushing is a small piece of rubber or plastic that cushions the connection between your brake pedal and the caliper. It reduces vibration and provides a smoother operation by absorbing some energy from braking. It could be due to worn bushings if you hear clunking noises when applying your brakes.
A worn bushing can cause the pedal to move slightly downward as soon as you apply pressure. This means you may have less control over how much braking power you need for each situation.
If this happens often enough, it will eventually feel like there isn’t enough travel in your brake pedal at every stop, which can mean an accident. You can also check out our post on popping noise when braking.
How to Fix a Clunking Noise When Braking
You first need to determine whether the clunking noise comes from your brake pads or another part of your car’s mechanics. If it turns out that there isn’t any damage anywhere else in your braking system, then it’s likely that your brake pads need replacing.
If that seems like an impossible task for someone who isn’t very handy with tools, take the car to an auto shop instead. They’ll be able to fix the problem quickly and efficiently.
Here are some of the several ways to fix this issue of a clunking noise whenever you apply your brakes:
1. Examine The Four Tires For Any Damages
If you hear a clunking noise when braking, one of the first things to do is check all four tires for damage or uneven wear. Make sure there are no bulges or cracks. Look out for tread depth.
If there’s an issue with the tires, that can be fixed. If not, you might need to get new ones. But that’s a small price compared to getting pulled over by police because your brakes aren’t working properly.
2. Check For Fluid Leaks
You may want to check your brake fluid reservoir and master cylinder for fluid leaks. The fluid level should be between the minimum and maximum.
Checking the lines and wheel cylinders is similar to checking wheel bearings. This can be done by removing a wheel and inspecting it up close.
3. Clean The Old Parts
Use a cleaning solvent to remove any dirt or grime on the parts around the wheels. You can also do this with a brush or compressed air (a.k.a., an air gun).
Be careful not to get any of these cleaning products on other areas of your vehicle. If you notice any damages from wear and tear, rust, or corrosion, or if there are other foreign materials present. You may need to replace the affected part.
4. Tighten All The Bolts Holding Your Brake Calipers
Several bolts hold your brake calipers in place, and it’s easy to overlook one or two when tightening everything up. Check the hardware for any damage if you have a clunking sound when braking. Any loose bolts or damaged pieces should be replaced before the repair process continues.
Also, make sure that all of these mounting points are tight and secure to avoid additional problems down the road. Check for signs of corrosion on any components as well. This can lead to increased rust build-up and loosening of parts over time if left unchecked.
5. Have A Professional Check Out Your Bearings in The Rotors
If you have a brake shop do this work for you, they must be certified. Also, when dealing with your brake system, make sure it is of good quality when purchasing a kit for replacing your rotors and pads. There are lots of kits on the market, but some are not well made or may not fit properly. It’s best to stick with reputable brands.
This issue of a clunking noise when braking occurs due to several reasons. One of the most common is improperly tightened bolts after changing wheels. You can fix this problem by removing the wheel and ensuring everything is tight before driving again.
If it continues after this step, something else may be causing these noises, such as worn suspension bushings or loose suspension bolts which can result in vibrations against each other. It can also be due to the following additional reasons; bad brake pad, worn bushing, worn, loose, or broken bracket, bad CV joints, etc.
Whatever the case, we strongly recommend that you engage an expert to conduct a proper diagnosis and proffer a lasting solution.
Ugo is a passionate car enthusiast with a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronics Engineering degree and hands-on experience in troubleshooting and fixing automobiles.
I combine my electrical and mechanical engineering knowledge with practical skills to address car-related issues.
My love for cars and dedication to educating others led to the creation of Fixandtroubleshoot.com!