You know the feeling: you’re just getting into your day when a regular customer comes in. They were just in for brake service. So you’re happy to see them, but when they don’t return your friendly greeting, you know something is up.
And, as a professional, you know it’s probably something to do with brake noise, the number-one post-brake service complaint.
All brakes make noise, but when that noise is in the audible range (mostly it’s above or below our ability to hear it), customers can be unhappy and even concerned their brakes might not be safe.
Here are key points to remember when you communicate to the customer.
1. You will have someone inspect the brakes promptly. In the vast majority of cases, post brake work noise is not a safety issue, but your shop is going to make sure.
2. Ask about any brake feel issues to help determine if it’s just noise/vibration, or if it is something else.
- Does the brake pedal feel okay?
- Does the car brake well?
- Is the noise all the time, only when braking, or one day but not another?
- Did it start making that noise right after they picked up the car after the brake work?
The answers to these questions will help guide the technician to possible causes of the brake noise.
Here are some common post-repair reasons for noise:
- High humidity/damp conditions (generally only fleeting noise)
- Broken anti-rattle clips
- Bent backing plate rubbing on the brake rotor
- Missing insulating shims
- Missing or insufficient insulating compound
- Brake rotor surface finish
In addition, what customers may think of as “brake noise” might be something else entirely:
- Failing wheel bearing
- Stone trapped and rubbing on brake rotor
- A completely unrelated failure.
That last one can be a tricky one to communicate, but it is why at the outset it is important to stay non-committal about what might be causing the noise.