Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board - Reply to Topic -- Hot Rod Forum

Register FAQ Search Today's Posts Unanswered Posts Auto Escrow Insurance Auto Loans Advertise
Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board > Tech Help> Suspension - Brakes - Steering> Wheel clunking and brake squeal
User Name
lost password?   |   register now

Thread: Wheel clunking and brake squeal Reply to Thread
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name (usually not your first and last name), your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

Topic Review (Newest First)
10-09-2004 06:17 AM
poncho62 You might want to look at the bushings that are in the calipers that the bolt/pin goes through. The "O" ring in them tends to wear over the years and the caliper gets loose, causing rattles and clunks sometimes. I have seen these bushings broken in half at times.
10-09-2004 12:56 AM
jimfulco The ears on the outboard pads on GM single-piston discs are supposed to be bent down, using a something like a pair of Channel-locks with the bottom jaw on the bottom of the pad under the caliper, & the top jaw bending the ear down to the top of the caliper. If you don't do this (I didn't for years until I read the stinkin' directions ), the pads will make a clacking sound when you first apply the brakes. I usually use the same C-clamp that I used to compress the caliper to hold the outboard pad to the caliper. The pad should be positioned as far upward as its bottom flange will allow it before the ears are bent.
10-07-2004 01:15 PM
skizot bump....
10-02-2004 05:05 PM
skizot Ok, I finally got some time to work on my car. Before I'm going to bend anything, I figured I'd go out and buy some new pads hoping that this might fix the problem. I replaced the pads and put some anti-sqeal on the back of the inner and outter pads. The new outter pad seems to fit even looser than the one I had on before. I drove it around for a bit and noticed a funny, slight shudder coming from that wheel when braking. It almost feels as if it's gripping and then slipping very quickly (Maybe this is because the pad can move around so much?). I checked the runout on the rotors and that part is all good; the rotors are fine. The passenger side wheel up front is fine and the outter pad doesn't move around at all. However, the driver's side outter pad is just really loose. I can move it up and down, and left and right about a good 1/4" which just isn't right. I don't really feel safe just bending the ears in hopes that this will fix the problem, and since there's no problem with the other wheel I think something is really wrong; I just really don't know what.

I'm probably going to take it into a mechanic here in town but I'm writing to this board again just to see if anyone can give me any more leads, or things to look at, so I can avoid having to deal with a mechanic. The cheapest one in town here charges $85/hour, and I really don't want to pay that if I can fix the problem myself.

09-05-2004 11:19 PM
troy-curt That's life.

Apology accepted.


If you don't make mistakes. your not doing anything.

69 SS/RS full custom Camaro 98 ISCA Grand Champion
69 SS/RS BB Camaro wifes driver
66 Elcamino 350/all dz parts,ac,windows,loaded,my driver
69 SS Chevelle BB conv.fresh frame off
26 T sedan street rod
09-05-2004 10:47 PM
yesgo I sincerely apologize Troy. I was becoming angry because some of your advice seemed to be coiciding with things i was taught by salesman-mechanics before I figured out the real deal. They had me believing in what I was selling, and it was just wrong.

I had to see alot of things that shouldn't have worked, work, and alot of things that should have, not work, plus a lot of reading, and watching older guys and especially backyard retired mechanics, before i figured some of it out.

I am sorry. I take it back. I do not believe you are out to rip people off. You would not be here if you were.
09-05-2004 08:14 PM
troy-curt Was talking to one of my guys today, and mentioned this debate.
He chuckled, and said he had seen this done and if there was a rattling problem then he used that method to tighten things up.
So I guess it is a recommended procedure. I've never had any problems just installing them the OLD way or I would have discovered the bending process.

There is nothing like a good healthy debate to learn new things. However I don't appreciate being flamed.

Quote: Originally posted by Yesgo
It's okay. The owner of my shop has had it since the 60's, and I had to prove it to him too. I have only been doing it for 15 years while ASE certified. It has solved many comebacks from people who did not do it. I suppose it makes more money for the shop to sell a caliper or another set of pads rather than bend the ears according to service procedures, so I can see how you would be mis-informed of this.

What did you mean by this childish remark.
It was totally uncalled for. I have never said anything about selling a new caliper or another set of pads to fix a problem.


If you don't make mistakes. your not doing anything.

69 SS/RS full custom Camaro 98 ISCA Grand Champion
69 SS/RS BB Camaro wifes driver
66 Elcamino 350/all dz parts,ac,windows,loaded,my driver
69 SS Chevelle BB conv.fresh frame off
26 T sedan street rod
09-05-2004 04:06 PM
yesgo Pontiac TSB 86-C-16

"Cinch outboard shoe to caliper, per service manual"

This TSB appilies to a parking brake recall on rear disc brakes for certain 82-86 Firebirds and 84-86 Fiero. The Fiero pads dont actually need to be cinched because there is a clip and tabs which hold the outer pad tight to the caliper. The Firebird rear disc had classic GM style pads which need to be cinched.

All disc brakes should have some sort of clips, tabs, ears, etcetera which keep them from moving around. On the ones which install on a bracket, there are spring clips which hold the pad from moving. On vehicles on which the pad(s) secure to the caliper, they secure to the caliper. This is done by either bending (cinching/clenching) the ears/tabs, or by using the clip(s) provided on the pad or with caliper hardware.

If either pad is not secure, it may knock, rattle, squeak, or make similar noises. Specifically on rear mounted calipers (calipers mounted behind the wheel) the knocking can sometimes be quite pronounced, as the pad(s) ride up, and then come back down, making a series of clacks for each revolution.

Securing the outer pad properly is not guaranteed to cure all brake noise.
09-05-2004 01:23 PM
yesgo I guess i dont give up quite yet.

posted by Troy
Snap the brake pads into place in the brake calipers. They should fit nicely into the caliper and clip into place.
OK, so if they dont automatically fit nicely and clip into place? You must bend the ears according to service procedures. Or I guess in your shop, you sell a new caliper and/or pads and pray they fit together perfectly. I suppose if you get loaded calipers, the bending has been done for you. Not all pads snap into all calipers without a little help.

On a GM RWD you can use channellocks while installed. On Ford and Chrysler, you must bend them first, and then snap in place. On some older GM FWD, there are 2 little ears which poke thru holes. Bend them after installation with pliers, or a hammer.

I dont have a GM manual here. I suppose Haynes and Chiltons are not reliable for you? How about NAPA? Myriads of DIY websites?

Chilton's /Firebird 67-81. pp292 with illustration... "Use pliers to fit the brake pad to the caliper housing."

Chilton's /Cutlass 70-87. pp247 same illustration "Cinching the outboard shoe"

Haynes /Plymouth vans 1971-1991. pp192-193 (Disc brake pad replacement, step 11 "If the outboard pad flanges do not fit snugly in the caliper, remove the pad and carefully bend the flanges to obtain a tight fit.
illustration pp193 "Bending the disc brake pad flange"

Here is a PDF file with a picture similar to a GM FWD caliper on early J-bodies, and some others, with bending instructions:

Here is a NAPA website mentioning bending of the ears:

Another auto parts supplier bending ears:

Mopar online using a hammer:

Another auto supplier mentioning channellocks to bend the outer pad:

These same instructions can be found in various places.

Here is one on a site for people with learning disabilities, also mentioning the procedure:

It's okay. The owner of my shop has had it since the 60's, and I had to prove it to him too. I have only been doing it for 15 years while ASE certified. It has solved many comebacks from people who did not do it. I suppose it makes more money for the shop to sell a caliper or another set of pads rather than bend the ears according to service procedures, so I can see how you would be mis-informed of this.
09-04-2004 11:08 PM
troy-curt There is nothing in the GM manual, or in the Master Tech test that says any thing about it. I have been to a dozen GM schools on brakes, and there was never anything about bending the pad ears.

Show me in a manual where it says to bend them.

Troy guides/HowToServiceDiscBrakes.php - 18k -

Click on repair guides


Auto Shows
Automotive Articles
Automotive Forums
Automotive Glossary
Car & Truck Pictures
New Car Reviews
Repair Guides
Vehicle Classifieds
Web Directory

Air & Fuel Systems
Auto Body & Paint
Books & Magazines
Brake Systems
Car Audio & Security
Car Care & Chemicals
Cooling Systems
Driveline Systems
Electrical Systems
Engine Components
Exhaust Systems
Exterior Accessories
Ignition Systems
Interior Accessories
Lighting & Neon
Replacement Parts
Racing & Safety Gear
Steering & Suspension
Tools & Equipment
Wheels & Tires

How To Service Disc Brakes

By: Chris Stephens (07/15/03)
Tools and Supplies:
Basic Hand Tool Set, Jack & Jack Stands, Semi-Metallic Brake Pads, Cross-Drilled Rotors, Brake Fluid

Brake System Knowledge
This guide is intended to provide you with a basic understanding of how to replace disc brake pads on a common, modern vehicle; not to provide in-depth knowledge of brake systems. It will assume that you are familiar with the basic components of a disc brake system such as the brake pads, rotors, calipers, et cetera. It will be necessary to lift the front of the vehicle and remove the wheels in order to gain access to the disc brakes. Use extreme caution to ensure your car or truck is properly supported at all times. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Disc Brake Problems
Replacing worn brake disc brake pads is probably the most common service performed on a vehicle's brake system. Fortunately, replacing disc brake pads is very simple and not beyond the scope of the home do-it-yourselfer. In fact, removing and reinstalling the wheels is often the most labor intensive aspect of changing disc brake pads. Furthermore, disc brakes often give plenty of warning when they need to be replaced. Many cars have a device known as a squealer that will touch the surface of the rotor and create a high pitched squeal (hence the nickname) when the brake pads have worn down sufficiently. Other noises coming from the front of the vehicle while in motion may also indicate a problem with the brake pads. Brake noises often change or disappear when the brakes are applied. Regardless, it is important to have your brakes inspected regularly to maintain the safe operating condition of your vehicle.

Removing The Brake Calipers
Once you have determined that you need to replace the brake pads, you can start by removing the brake calipers. Each caliper is held onto the hub or spindle by two slider pins. These pins can be loosened from behind each caliper. The slider pins do not need to be completely removed in order for the caliper to be removed. Some slider pins will require the use of either a large torx or hex socket. Since you have not (and should not have) removed the front brake hoses, the caliper will have to remain tethered to the vehicle. Do not let the caliper hang from the brake hose as this can easily damage the hose or its fittings. Fabricate a simple hook from an old coat hanger and hang the caliper from the top of the strut. Be sure that nobody touches the brake pedal or brake fluid reservoir while the brake calipers are off or the piston may be forced too far out and may rupture a seal. Next, you need to press the piston back into the caliper to make room for the new (thicker) brake pads. With the old brake pads still in place, use a large c-clamp or channel lock pliers to carefully press the piston in. If the piston will not retract smoothly, it may need to be rotated in with a special tool. Now remove the brake pads from the caliper.

Choosing Brake Pads
Your local auto parts store is likely to offer a variety of choices of brake pads available for your vehicle. Normally, it is best to choose the same type of brake pads as were originally used on your vehicle. However, consider that premium semi-metallic brake pads may provide a shorter stopping distance and longer brake pad life than standard organic pads. They are however, harder on your disc brake rotors and they tend to be noisier. For those vehicles that originally came equipped with organic compound brake pads, I often suggest upgrading to premium where the disc brake rotors are fairly inexpensive.

Resurfacing vs. Replacing Rotors
Having worked in the service industry for years, I have often been asked whether resurfacing or replacing brake rotors is really necessary. My answer is always that your brake pads and the surface of your brake rotors are life-mates; change one and you need to change the other. Fortunately, having your brake rotors resurfaced can be done relatively cheap. Some retailers may offer a reduced price on resurfacing the brake rotors if you purchase the brake pads from them. If the rotors are too thin to be machined or if their price is comparable to the price of new ones (which does happen) they should be replaced. Removing the rotors should be easy (in most cases they will just slide right off). Otherwise, check to see if there are any push-nut retainers on the wheel studs holding them in place. If not, tap lightly with a hammer on the center hub of the rotor to free up any corrosion. Some newer vehicles (mainly imports) have two small metric threaded holes in the brake rotor in which the correct sized bolts can be threaded in and used to press the rotor off the hub. Other rotors may need a special tool known as a slide hammer. The last common design is used mainly on older ford vehicles in which the rotor houses the wheel bearings. These will need to be removed before the rotor can come free. Be sure to clean the bearings and repack them with fresh wheel bearing grease before reinstalling.

Installing New Brake Pads
Compare the new brake pads to the old ones. They should be similar in size, shape, and have the same style of shim (if so equipped) attached to the back. In some cases, shims may need to be purchased separately and clipped in place. Snap the brake pads into place in the brake calipers. They should fit nicely into the caliper and clip into place. Permatex Lubricants offers a product called "Disc Brake Quiet" which can be spread on the back of the brake pads before they are installed in the caliper. This product can help reduce any chatter from the brakes and should be available at all major auto parts retailers.

Reinstalling The Brake Calipers
Inspect the old brake pads again for uniform thickness and appearance. If they have worn unevenly there is a good chance that the slider pins are seizing up in the caliper and preventing it from sliding back and forth properly. If necessary, replace or clean and lubricate the slider pins with disc brake caliper lubricant. Although not always necessary it may help extend the life of your new brake pads and rotors. Reposition the the brake caliper on the hub and tighten the slider pins.

Bleeding Brakes
After changing the brake pads, be sure to test out the brake pedal before driving the vehicle. Pump the pedal a few times to force the brake pads to squeeze the brake rotors. If the pedal is soft or fades you should consider bleeding the brake system before using the vehicle. Please view our How To Bleed A Brake System guide for more information
09-04-2004 10:27 PM
KULTULZ ...sigh...

I was trying to stay out of this one...

Certain stlyes of GM, FORD and MOPAR have two ears or tabs on the outer brake pad that are bent in once the pad is installed. This keeps the pad tight against the caliper housing. If it is not tightened or tightened properly, it will cause squeal, rattle and that dreaded GM disease, PAD KNOCK

Now, the man has explained it several times, myself twice. If you are a certified GM tech and have not come across this...Let's just say I am certainly amazed.

Let the flames begin...
09-04-2004 10:20 PM
troy-curt A frozen caliper would cause the outer pad to wear, then it would be loose, But he said the pad was loose, and the wheel wouldn't hardly turn?

The pad rides lightly on the rotor, that is why they get hot going down the road.

As far as crimping the ears on the outer pads, that would warp the metal. I've never heard of any one doing that, or seen it in any manual. I just flipped through my GM manual, there is nothing in it about crimping the ears on disc brake pads. Nothing.

If I caught any of my employs bending anything in the brake system, they would get fired on the spot, as I am liable if any part of the brake system fails after I have worked on it.

09-04-2004 09:27 PM
yesgo The outer pad would only be loose if it is not cinched down to the caliper by its ears. It is part of standard installation procedures. If the caliper was seized, the brakes would drag. A loose pad could also cause a drag. A frozen caliper would be cold.

Here is a pic of a similar pad (dodge) showing the approximate points which must be squeezed together. On a GM, a large pair of channel locks should suffice.

Now I give up.
09-04-2004 06:51 PM
troy-curt Pad worn out, caliper frozen, the best thing to do is take the wheel of and look at it, there is not that much can go wrong in there.


If you don't make mistakes. your not doing anything.

69 SS/RS full custom Camaro 98 ISCA Grand Champion
69 SS/RS BB Camaro wifes driver
66 Elcamino 350/all dz parts,ac,windows,loaded,my driver
69 SS Chevelle BB conv.fresh frame off
26 T sedan street rod
09-04-2004 06:17 PM
skizot bump.....

so what would cause the outter pad to be so loose?
This thread has more than 15 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:01 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 1999 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.