Dear Tom and Ray:
My son-in-law, whom I love like a son, just replaced the brakes on my '07 Camry. It was fine for a day or so, and then I started to hear this "rubbing" noise. It is only when I start moving forward, never in reverse, and it quits within 30 seconds. Sometimes it's very loud, sometimes not. He put on ceramic brakes, not "certified" Toyota parts. I took it to the dealership where I have all my service done, and they said the noise is because of the ceramic brakes. They said it is not a safety issue, but they would be happy to remove the ceramic brakes and put on Toyota brakes, and of course turn the rotors and charge me an arm and a leg. Can you explain what this is and if there is a fix for it? I love your show -- you guys are hilarious. Thanks for any help you can give.
Tom: Well, that was awfully nice of him to do your brakes for you, Denise. Do you think he'll be as nice when you ask him to do them again?
Ray: No, that's unnecessary. He did a perfectly good job. We often use ceramic brake pads, too; they're supposed to last longer. But if you don't change the rotors at the same time, you take a risk that there will be some noise, and that's all that happened here.
Tom: Yeah. The noise is just a slight rubbing because your old rotors have been worn in the shape of your old pads, and the new pads don't match them exactly. But they're perfectly safe, and your brakes will stop the car just the way they're supposed to.
Ray: If it's really driving you nuts, then tell your son-in-law that you're really grateful for his help, but, unfortunately, your brakes started making noise right after he did the brake job. In other words, take the car back to the mechanic and complain. That's what our customers do!
Tom: And if he's willing to change the rotors for you (soon -- before the new pads conform to the old rotors), he can make the noise go away. Changing the rotors is an easy job on this car.
Ray: If he claims he doesn't hear the noise (which is what we do when our customers come back and complain), then you need to change your taste in music and start listening to that head-banging stuff while you're driving.
Tom: That's probably what your son-in-law listens to, which is why he didn't hear the brake noise in the first place. But rest assured, your car's safe, Denise, even if you do nothing.
(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk Web site.)