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Old 08-06-2003, 06:43 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Kingsport, TN
Posts: 375
Humming/high pitched noise, stops when brakes applied

Hi everybody,

After reading john420’s story about humming noise, which probably came from a stuck emergency brake, I thought I share my experience with a humming/pitched noise. It might alarm you to the brakes and might prevent more damage.

It happened on our motorhome, which has a Ford E 350 chassis. I pull a motorcycle trailer behind; the trailer has electric brakes.

Coming off the highway and entering a State Park, I hear a pitched noise that stops when I apply the brakes. As I had the brakes on the MH adjusted and fluid changed in July 2002, but not repacked the trailer bearings as recommended by the manufacturer (every 2 years and I was in year 3), I assumed the trailer bearings were the culprit.
Went to the next Goodyear/Gemini dealer the next morning and had the trailer bearings adjusted. They were definitely loose, but mechanic advised that my kind of noise is more likely from brakes rather than bearings. Trailer brakes looked ok.
Not following through on that thought, after all, I had the brakes done last summer, I went back on the highway. MH brakes seemed fine too me. This was probably around 11:00 am. By 5:00 pm in heavy traffic, MH behaves as if a tire is going flat. I pull to the right and check all tires. All are ok. Get back in traffic, but MH pulls to the left. Stop again and now smell overheating brakes when coming out of MH. Left front hubcab is too hot to touch.
Yes, you guessed it by now, a stuck front left caliper.

Towing $175 to next Ford dealer, which is of course closed by now. 2 nights in hotel, as an ABS wire, which has cracked insulation, is not in stock. 2 rebuilt calipers, 2 rotors machined and new brake pads.

May be, if I had stopped at the next Ford dealer in the morning, they might have found what was wrong with the brakes and I might have saved the towing and the 2 nights in a hotel. We will never know, but if I hear any kind of chaffing/ high pitched noise again, that stops when you apply the brakes, my first thought will be “brakes”!!!

Reinhard Kreutzer
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