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Why Your Car is Making Noise When Reversing and How to Deal With It

Why Your Car is Making Noise When Reversing and How to Deal With It

A brake problem is most likely the culprit of why your car is making noise when reversing. The noise you hear is a very loud screeching sound. The car may also start to shudder and make a squealing noise when shifting the gear stick to reverse. This problem is not as uncommon as you think. You are not alone. 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


The noise can range from minor inconsistent scraping noises to painful high pitched sounds. There are more than one cause for this. It could be that a piece of metal is lodged on the wheels or transmission. As simple as removing the metal out or changing the affected part of your braking system can get rid of the issue. Still, it is a must to be certain of the cause why your car is making a noise when reversing, and address the problem correctly. Here are the common causes of this problem and how to deal with it. 


Brake Pad Problems

Worn out brake pads that rub against the rotor can create noises when you are reversing. You may hear a clicking or a screeching sound. Other than the brake pads being worn out, it can shift to a completely opposite direction. It typically occurs when the car does not have proper maintenance or the brake calipers and the pad’s surface have experienced a lot of movement. Hence, when the brakes shift, it produces a lot of noises. Also, the braking system has anti-rattle chips. From the term itself, you would know its purpose is to stop rattling. Thus, if the brakes don’t have this or they’ve been removed, you will hear noises.  


What you should first do is to get rid of the noises is to lubricate the brakes by applying disc brake caliper lubricant. If the noises still persist, the affected part of the brakes should be replaced. During replacement, you should make sure that the anti-rattle chips are properly installed. Failure to properly install them, even if the brakes are new, will not solve the noise issue and you’ll continue to hear that annoying sound. 


Inspecting the Brakes’ Wear Tabs

You will find the wear tabs towards the edge of the brake tabs of your vehicle. Its purpose is to make sure that the braking system is working effectively so that when stepping foot on the brake pedals, the car will come to a halt. But when these tabs start to rub against the rotor, you’ll hear the noises again. That is the reason car experts recommend that you should not start your vehicle by reversing or traveling long trips when you haven’t been driving your vehicle for a while. You must first have it checked or serviced before using it again. When trying to reverse and the wear tabs are not positioned properly, you will expect to hear noises. The wear tabs need to be inspected and repaired correctly. 


Check the Car to Determine if there is Any Metal Lodged in the Wheels or Braking System

Screeching noises are produced when metal rubs against metal. When you hear this type of noise when your gear is on Reverse, it could be that there is a metallic object stuck between the rotor and the brake pads. The object keeps them from smoothly working as they should. When this happens, have the rotor and pads properly inspected and also cleaned to ensure that any foreign object is removed and the braking system will start working like it should be.


Moreover, the wheels can also have a metal stuck somewhere, so you must have it taken off too. There might be no noise when you are driving forward because the metal might be stuck in such a way that it doesn’t obstruct the usual movement. Aside from checking for the metal, also check if there are any other damage that might have happened because of it.


Lubricating The Grease Shims

The grease shims are found between the brake calipers and the brake pads. Their main purpose is to prevent any noise from the brakes when they are being used or when any of the other components rub against each other. It is very obvious when these grease shims are not greased properly since you will most likely hear the noises when the car is reversing. Thus, you must see to it that the shims are lubricated as often as needed to prevent the noise from occurring. The shims have two opposite sides that you must lubricate to ensure that the brake pads won’t get worn out when working over them. However, you must not over lubricate the shims as it may ruin them. 


Another probable reason that a car makes noise is a transmission problem which we will discuss later in this article, but that produces a different noise. More often the reason for cars making noise when reversing has something to do with the braking system. This is why you should always make sure to have it properly maintained and fixed immediately when they get faulty. 


How long do brakes usually last?

So you know by now that proper maintenance of brakes is key to prevent that irritating car noise when reversing. You might also wonder if you need to have your brakes replaced after a certain period of time. You might also ask if the mileage can indicate if it is time for your brakes to be replaced. In this section, we will answer those questions for you. 


Generally speaking, high quality brakes are made to last between 30,000 and 50,000 miles, however, how long their lifespan is will still depend on several factors. It is not dependent on mileage alone. You cannot say that a car needs to have new brakes since it has reached this certain mileage. 


Driving condition, frequency and style affect brake life. More than mileage, these three greatly impact the lifespan of the brakes in your vehicle. For instance, a vehicle that has been driven mainly on the highway may not need to have its brakes replaced for about 100k miles, while a car that is usually driven on more “stop and go” conditions may need replacement after 20k miles. And if you are one of those people driving down the road and always have your brakes and riding on them, you might need new brakes at only 5,000 miles. Other factors that can affect the lifespan of your brakes are vehicle weight and road conditions.


Knowing the condition and quality of your brakes is important. You can check the condition of your brakes by looking at the wear signs of your brake pads. As the brake pads’ surface wear away, the tabs will grind into the brake rotors. If the pads are worn, it will produce a grinding “metal on metal” noise which you will usually hear when using the brakes. 


When that squeaking noise starts, it’s time to get new pads. The thickness of new pads range between three-eights and half of an inch. But worn pads with half of that thickness can still be used for about 10,000 to 15,000 miles. 


Other than the quality and condition of the brake pads, their life is also impacted by the conditions of the rotors. You would know that it is time to get new brakes if you can see or feel deep grooves in the brake rotors which are a result of brake pad wear tabs that are grinding into the rotors.

Why is there a clunking noise when I shift from park to reverse?

Another type of noise that you can hear when reversing is clunking, and this is not caused by brake issues, it could be a transmission problem or a problem in your constant velocity (CV) joints. You might have worn CV joints in need of a new boot or even replacement of the whole part. The clunking sound could also be caused by worn motor mounts and the engine is not well secured. So you should also have these parts checked. However, if the transmission is the problem, it could be the parking pawl.


A parking pawl’s purpose is to lock up your automatic transmission. The parking pawl is engaged when the transmission is put into the park setting. It is basically a pin locking a notched wheel on the output shaft to prevent it from turning.


It is recommended to stop your vehicle fully before putting it into park. If you are in a hurry and engage the transmission into park even if the car is still moving, it can damage the parking pawl. A parking pawl that has been damaged can cause this clunking noise when shifting from park to reverse. 

The parking pawl needs assistance when a vehicle is parked at an incline. Remember that it is just a rod and parking your car at an incline with only itself keeping the car from rolling away, the parking pawl gets too much stress and gets subjected to premature wear. It could either break or fail. It is recommended to give assistance to your parking pawl by using the emergency brake when parked at an incline. 

Car Making Grinding Noise When Reversing


A grinding noise when reversing is indicative of a transmission problem–the probable cause is the gearbox is not able to fully disengage from the engine and the gears are still continuing to rotate. One trick you can do to get rid of the problem is to shift into a forward gear in a moment before you shift into reverse. But if the trick doesn’t do the magic, you are likely to have an issue with the gearbox or the clutch and it’s time to pay a visit to your mechanic. 


What the transmission does

The transmission or gearbox is basically what allows you to control how slow or fast you want to drive your vehicle on the highway. The faster the gear, the faster the wheels turn in relation to the engine speed. Car transmission come in four types and they are the following:


  1. Manual Transmission – This is the oldest and the simplest type of transmission and it is still being used today. This type of transmission makes use of a friction clutch inflected by your foot to connect the rotational energy of your engine to the input shaft of the transmission. There is also a fixed set of gears that are engaged through the use of a synchro and gear-selector for which is connected to the gear stick operated by the hand of the driver. This transmission type is the easiest and cheapest to fix.
  2. Automatic Transmission – This is the most common type of transmission on the road today. It makes use of a complex torque converter to transfer the rotational energy of the engine. The gear shifts are being controlled by the car’s computer and achieved with a planetary gear set and a series of brakes and clutches. This gives convenience to the driver who only has to select a gear on the gear selector. Since this type of transmission is mechanically complex, it is more prone to failure and more costly to fix.
  3. Continuously variable transmission (CVT) – This type is similar to an automatic but it runs using an entirely different mechanism. Instead of using gears, it makes use of a system of pulleys and belts to supply an enormous range of ratios. The car’s computer decides how to adjust the pulleys to produce the optimal ratio for a particular driving situation. It is not as complicated as the mechanics in an automatic transmission. Hence, they are less prone to failure and are not as costly to fix as an automatic.
  4. Semi-automatic and dual-clutch transmission – As the name suggests, it is basically a hybrid between a manual and fully automatic transmission. This type is mainly found only in race cars and expensive sports cars. It is so complex that it requires frequent and costly fixes. 


When you are unsure what is going on in your gearbox, better contact a mechanic to make sure the right diagnosis and right fix are made. 



An issue in the braking system has a lot more to do with a car making noise when reversing than a transmission problem. This is why you should give it proper maintenance and have your brakes fixed immediately when they start showing signs of failing. Also, check on the transmission (for automatic vehicles) and the clutch (if it is a manual vehicle). This way, you can avoid having to deal with that irritating deafening noise.