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The community assistance here is great, but I think there's something we're missing. Here's what I know:

  • I have heard the sound as described by mrblint recently in my own car, assuming I have understood the description correctly.
  • The sound is noticed when there is no pressure on the brakes and disappears when pressure is applied, and the speed of the audible cycle correlates to the speed of the car.
  • What I hear is more of a scrape than a squeak. You could achieve a similar sound by running a knife or maybe a whisk around the edge of a steel skillet (and maintaining constant contact).
  • I have driven several thousand miles since I first heard it, including city and highway, so any gravel or small rocks should have been thrown out long ago.
  • My brakes have not shown any abnormality in performance. No noticeable pedal drop, unexpected feedback, or increase in braking distance.
  • I had my brakes checked last week, and where the dealer recommends replacing parts when the pad measurement is 3mm, mine were all at 6-7mm, so it's definitely not a brake pad end-of-life warning.
Then it is a nuisance noise the pads make when lightly rubbing on the rotors. That happens occasionally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Not caliper, not wheel bearings. This is the warning device on all modern brake pads. A metal reed that touches the rotor when the pads are down to the last 5-25% of their life. A high thin noise. Often described as a squeak, but not that infrequently more like a scrape. It ALWAYS goes away with pressure on the pads. Let us not make this any harder than it has to be!
I did not get notice of these replies to my question. Apologies for my delay.

As for making things harder than they need to be ... I took the car in to the dealership today to have that sound looked at and also a quiet wobble sound, which was diagnosed as a bent shock the last time I brought the car in to the dealership with that sound. Today they charged me $159 for diagnostics, blamed "moisture" for the scraping sound which disappears with the tiniest slightest touch on the pedal (even though it would happen even on the hottest, driest days of the summer) and told me there was nothing wrong with the shock even though the bushing is deformed.
 

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warped rotor or uneven pad wear would have a highspot that causes noise - the pads barely pull away from the disc face when not in use, so they may have slight drag at points.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
The community assistance here is great, but I think there's something we're missing. Here's what I know:

  • I have heard the sound as described by mrblint recently in my own car, assuming I have understood the description correctly.
  • The sound is noticed when there is no pressure on the brakes and disappears when pressure is applied, and the speed of the audible cycle correlates to the speed of the car.
  • What I hear is more of a scrape than a squeak. You could achieve a similar sound by running a knife or maybe a whisk around the edge of a steel skillet (and maintaining constant contact).
  • I have driven several thousand miles since I first heard it, including city and highway, so any gravel or small rocks should have been thrown out long ago.
  • My brakes have not shown any abnormality in performance. No noticeable pedal drop, unexpected feedback, or increase in braking distance.
  • I had my brakes checked last week, and where the dealer recommends replacing parts when the pad measurement is 3mm, mine were all at 6-7mm, so it's definitely not a brake pad end-of-life warning.
Your description matches. It is a soft, quiet scraping sound, ching-ching-ching, easier to hear when something like a wall is reflecting the sound back at you. It takes only the lightest touch on the brake pedal to cause it to stop. My car has only 22K miles.
 
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