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I've been having trouble with a noise from the front left brakes on my 2003 Yaris/Echo/Vitz/Platz. The car takes a beating but is also well maintained.

After a long drive with repeated hard braking or a few minutes out on the track, I can hear a grinding sound when brakes are applied lightly at slow speed.

So far, I have replaced the following in an attempt to fix this:

  • Performance discs
  • Normal quality aftermarket discs
  • Fast road pads
  • Normal quality aftermarket pads
  • Brake shims
  • Slide pins, grease, rubber boots

Each time I dismantled it to swap a component, I removed the pins, cleaned out the bore with brake clean and a narrow long brush and added a thin coat of ceramic brake grease for the pins, and copper grease for pad/shim/caliper contact.

I also, sprayed down the hub face with brake clean and applied some copper anti seize to that area.

I can't see any obvious sign that the disc is making contact with anything, there are a few marks that I am suspicious of, but can't say for sure.

Another test I have done, is fit the pads WITHOUT the shims. With this set up, the pads rattle, but grinding noise goes away. So I think the disc is hitting the shims. Given that I have replaced the shims, what parts should I throw at it next?

Update: here is how it sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m9RyuOVBOc

Update: Is it possible that the wheel bearing / hub assembly is offset and causing the disc to sit close to the caliper than it should?

Update Jan 2017: I have replaced the caliper and the caliper bracket with a used unit. I used the shims that came with this old caliper. It appears the problem has resolved but I will wait for a while before confirming. I have a theory that the shape of the mounting bracket or caliper was damaged when the previous owner painted them red. I currently have 3 red calipers and a single unpainted one, perhaps I will replace all of them with unpainted used ones at some point.

Update Feb 2017: The noise has returned, it's less pronounced than before, but its the same noise and can be felt through the brake pedal. As before, it only occurs after hard or extended driving.

Update July 2017: Its stopped making the noise. My guess is, it will return once I replace the pads or remove/refit the caliper at some point. Its just "seized" in there and found its happy place, or some kind of mystery.

  • Also, someone else had this same issue and a Toyota garage told them "turn the radio up", after a few failed attempts at repair. So apparently, this noise is not a safety issue. I have a recording of it I will share. – DizzyFool Dec 20 '16 at 16:06
  • What pads are you using (or have used) each time you replaced. You stated two different pad types, but not exactly what they are. Some performance pads make noise ... no two ways about it. I don't think I'd be overly worried about a safety issue, either, but I would wonder about drag on the rotor which would be slowing you down, especially when looking at any type of racing or during track time. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 9 '17 at 17:26
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 I didn't want to add brand names but I will, the performance pads are EBC Yellowstuff. They're a "fast road pad" suitable for road use and light track use. They shouldn't make any noise. The other pads are an aftermarket OEM equivalent by Mintex. These are a good value/quality standard replacement pad. I've used both with no issue before and this noise occurs with either pad fitted so I don't think the pad is the issue. – DizzyFool Mar 10 '17 at 9:12
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Something similar happened to my old car. I removed the disc guard, that sits behind the disc. The grinding noise no longer existed. This may or may not help you solve your problem, but it's worth looking at whether the guard fouls the disc, perhaps when it gets really hot.

  • I actually had this issue before, it was making noise ALL the time, I bend the disc guard away from the disc and the noise stopped. I am very certain this is a different noise. Given that removing the guard requires pressing out the hub, I don't think I will do it as I don't have a press. Plus the guard is required for our yearly inspection. (I have actually had to replace them before on other vehicles because rust holes in the guard will mean a failed inspection. – DizzyFool Dec 22 '16 at 10:03

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