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Old 03-04-2010, 10:29 PM   #1
cconover
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Grinding/squealing/thumping noise from left rear wheel

I've done some searching on here & found some threads that seem similar to the issue I'm having but they don't quite seem the same, so I thought I'd go ahead and ask. Driving home tonight I was doing about 70mph when all of a sudden a loud thud/clunk came from the left rear wheel and a rhythmic scraping noise started. It varied in intensity and exact type of noise on and off for the next 10 miles until I got home, and occassionally that original thud would happen causing the sound to almost go away for a moment before gradually coming back. It got the worst as I was getting off the highway around a 3/4 circle right turn off ramp and as I slowed to a stop at the end of the off ramp. It was a really loud tapping/clicking sound with a very slight squeal to it, barely audible. As I started moving again and got back up to speed toward my house the sound gradually shifted until the squealing sound was loud and intense and the tapping was much quieter. The squealing sounded like what a subway sounds like as it comes to a stop in a station, very much as if my brakes were rubbing hard. When I got home, I checked my brakes all around to see if there were any visible problems, and I touched them to check temperature. Both fronts and the right rear were warm but I could hold my fingers to them for an extended period without discomfort. When I got to the left rear, I burned myself almost the instant I put my fingertips on the rotor. To me this seemed like the caliper must've seized or some other situation causing excessive rubbing of the pads & rotors. However, that didn't seem to account for the grinding/tapping/clicking noise that had occurred as well. In doing some searching it seems as if it could be either a) caliper seizing, b) failing wheel bearing, or c) ebrake problem (loose shoes, worn springs, etc.). What are your thoughts on the most likely cause given the symptoms and what's the best way to check each scenario?
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Old 03-04-2010, 10:48 PM   #2
LivesNearCostco
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how about raise the rear of the car on jackstands, shift to neutral, release the E-brake handle, then try to rotate each rear wheel by hand? If the regular caliper or the internal ebrake mechanism is binding, you should hear and/or feel it. You could also remove the rear wheels and have someone else pump the brake pedal. You should see the caliper pinch the shoes against the rotor then back off a tiny bit when the helper releases the brake pedal. If it's binding on one of the two pins, you should be able to see that.

Other than binding caliper or loose/broken brake pad, I can't think of a disc brake failure that would make the left rear caliper clamp down. Most failures would prevent it from clamping the rotor. On the other hand, a broken return spring in a drum brake could leave the shoe rubbing the inside of the drum or rotor hat or whatever our ebrakes use for friction. Or a broken e-brake shoe.

If your left rear wheel bearing is bad, I would think you would see/feel the wobble when you spin the rear wheel by hand.

I am not famlliar with the E46 e-brake mechanism, but did take apart and re-assemble the rear drum brakes of another car once. Drum brakes have 1 or 2 return springs that retract the shoes from the inside of the drum
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Old 03-05-2010, 11:32 PM   #3
cconover
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Well, I went out early this morning & jacked up the left rear side to see if I could determine the problem. For starters, I tried to wiggle the wheel at 12 & 6 to check the bearing. It wouldn't budge at all. The wheel also wouldn't budge in the normal rotating sense either. I took the wheel off to see what I could find. Nothing appeared to be jammed or stuck - I manually pushed the caliper piston back into the caliper with a small pry bar with little difficulty, and was able to actuate the caliper again with no problems.

Then I noticed a piece of metal sticking out of the disc shield at the forward part of the disc, next to the trailing arm. Upon further inspection, it turned out to be a spring. This got me thinking that it was in fact a problem with the ebrake. I called a friend across the street who's a mechanic & has a big tool collection. He took a look at it & recommended we take of the disc & caliper to inspect further. We removed the caliper (no problems, the caliper & pads are in great shape), and then he went to get another wrench while I removed the retaining screw for the disc.

As soon as the screw was out and I pulled the disc loose, the entire ebrake assembly came crashing out of the drum - shoes, springs, gears, the whole bit - and landed in a heap on the ground.



It certainly made it painfully obvious that I had found the problem. My friend came back over and started laughing when he saw the image above. Since I had neither the time nor the funding at the moment for a new ebrake assembly (I had to make a 90 minute drive in less than an hour from then), we put everything back together and gave it a test drive. Everything now feels great, and there are no odd sounds at all.

The thing I found strangest and most frustrating about it was that there didn't seem to be any warning that this was coming. I figured that perhaps if the ebrake assembly was failing I would have noticed significantly reduced holding power, or maybe some squeaking or a little rattling. Instead, it went from seemingly fine to horrendously loud noises and completely destroying with no apparent warnings. Anybody else had this happen to them?

I've included some additional pictures of the individual pieces closer up.















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Old 03-06-2010, 07:23 PM   #4
LivesNearCostco
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Glad you found the problem. When you get a chance, inspect the e-brake mechanism on the right rear wheel too. If the left side fell apart, the right might not be far behind, unless somehow road salt was getting only to the left side and not the right.
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:05 PM   #5
RockerGuy
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I just went out in my car and there is this big gash on my rear rotors. I think it is rubbing against something. Fack
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:16 PM   #6
jdstrickland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockerGuy View Post
I just went out in my car and there is this big gash on my rear rotors. I think it is rubbing against something. Fack
It's rubbing on the worn out brake pad. There us a light that tells you the brakes were worn out, and you either ignored the light or the warning circuit has been disabled. Now that the rotors are trash, you may as well replace the Brake Wer Sensor and re-enable the circuit, or pay attention to it when it turns the light on that tells you the brakes are worn out.

Why did you select a post that has been dead for almost 2 years to tell us that your brakes have worn out?
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:35 PM   #7
RockerGuy
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My brakes are not worn out!

Its rubbing against something for some weird reason.
I'm not a noob, ooookay??
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