Clunking Noise When Braking: 7 Causes and Solutions

Who doesn’t want to drive a comfortable and trouble-free car? While people love to have a ride of their own and enjoy car ownership, very few take care of their vehicles and know if something …

clunking noise when braking

Who doesn’t want to drive a comfortable and trouble-free car? While people love to have a ride of their own and enjoy car ownership, very few take care of their vehicles and know if something is wrong with them.

No matter how well you maintain your car and how religiously you stick to the service schedules, one day or the other, something troublesome would come up. If you hear any weird noises while driving or slowing down, always suspect a fault or a malfunction brewing underneath.

If you also hear that annoying clunking noise when braking, one of the many parts that help bring your car to a stop may have an imminent problem. Brakes are the most crucial part of your car and utterly necessary for your safety, so if you hear a clunking noise when braking, don’t ignore it and consult a professional mechanic immediately to get the problem diagnosed and fixed on the spot.

Let’s explore what generates that clunking noise when braking and how you can fix them;

Top 7 Reasons you Hear Clunking Noise When Braking

If you’re asking yourself, why do I hear a clunking noise when braking? You’re not alone and to help you understand this issue, we have gathered the 7 most causes of clunking noise when braking.

Worn Out Brake Pads

Every car owner already knows how important brake pads are and how often they need replacement due to constant wear and usage. Your car won’t brake optimally if it doesn’t have good brake pads and that’s why manufacturers recommend changing them every 25,000 miles.

Worn or damaged brake pads would not make optimal contact with the rotors due to the haphazard surface and create clunking noise whenever you push the brake pedal. This is one of the most common reasons behind this problem but can be fixed easily.

Warped Brake Rotors

Brake rotors are the main platforms of the brake assembly and are essential for the system to work. Due to rough driving, negligence in maintenance, and uneven tire pressure for a long time, rotors can get warped or damaged.

Damaged rotors would not make normal contact with the pads and would also become uneven due to cracks. If you hear a clunking noise when braking and your brake pads are fine, suspect bad rotors and get them checked immediately.

Faulty Brake Calipers

Brake calipers are those fancy panels behind the rims covering the rotors and they house the brake pads. If the brake caliper is damaged or loose, it would rock or vibrate when the brakes are applied and create a clunking noise as well.

Loose Bolts or Nuts

Lug nuts on your wheels or bolts holding the brake assembly together can get loose over time or may be tightened improperly by the technician. No matter what the reason, loose nuts would cause different parts to move unevenly and have abnormal contact with other parts of the car. This creates clunking and creaking noise, especially when the brakes are applied.

Damaged Control Arm

Most people are unaware of what a control arm is. This part connects the suspension and chassis and is crucial for a well-balanced and safe ride. A damaged control arm often results in a rocking and undulating ride and when the brakes are applied, it leads to a clunking noise due to out-of-balance parts and connections.

Low Brake Fluid

Brake fluid, like other oils in your car, ensures that brakes work perfectly when needed. If the brake oil level is low, the optimal pressure would not develop in the system and air would creep in to form a vacuum, this leads to poor braking performance and clunking noise on pressing the brake pedal.

Damaged Suspension

Another major reason behind your car making clunking noise on applying brakes is due to the damaged shock absorbers. Needless to say, suspension bears the majority of the grunt of the road and offers a comfortable ride to the passengers. It ought to get weak and damaged over time and when it does, the car loses its normal balance and offers poor handling. When you apply brakes in a car with damaged suspension, you would hear a clunking noise along with poo handling and a rocking ride.

Other Similar Problems:
Brake lights flashing?
Why Is My Car Making Noise After the Engine Turned Off?

How to Fix Clunking Noise When Braking?

If you happen to come across this problem suddenly, do not continue with your journey and take your car immediately to a workshop. This is a serious concern and can be highly unsafe for you and others on the road;

1. If the sound is mild and there are no other symptoms, like poor balance or handling, you could continue and take your car to a workshop

2. If the sound is too obvious and loud and your car rocks on applying brakes, immediately stop it and try to tow it, rather than driving it any further.

3. Replace the brake pads- Most of the time, brake pads are causing this clunking noise when braking, and replacing them solves the problem.

4. Check the Rotors and Calipers – If the brake rotors or calipers are found to be damaged, there is no option but to replace them. In some cases, brake calipers are just loose and rocks here and there, in such a case, tighten the nuts and be on your way.

5. Check the Brake Oil level – if the brake oil is low, get it topped up to the optimal level, and no need to do anything else.

6. Inspect the Suspension and Control Arm – if everything else seems to be ok, it is likely that the suspension and control arm might be at fault. Let the technician check these parts for any damage and fix the problem aptly for you.

Final Thought

A car tends to develop many flaws when it is driven frequently. As we addressed in this in-depth discussion, some flaws are caused by the driver’s habits and ignorance, while others arise naturally, such as brake pads that wear out over time and suspension that limps when it ages. However, performing a routine inspection on your car might help you prevent some of these issues, and getting it checked timely may avoid irreparable damages and costly fixes.