What Happens if Brake Pads Are Installed Without Shims and Grease?

The purpose of brake shims is to reduce the noise that comes from braking your vehicle. These anti-squeal shims are basically adhesive (or non-adhesive) pads made of either rubber or metal. They go in between the middle of the brake calipers and brake pads.

That way, the brake shims can adjust the differences and fix the imperfections between the two so that the noises are reduced or eliminated entirely. At the most, you will hear a little bit of rattling but that will be kept to a minimum.

If you were to hear loud squealing noises coming from your braking system, then it’s possible you have missing or worn out brake shims. Sometimes people will think these noises are coming from their brake rotors. But in most cases, the blame for these noises can be placed on missing brake shims.

This could happen when you purchase new brake pads because not all brake pads come with brake shims attached to them. In these situations, you need to attach the brake shims separately from the brake pads. You can re-use the old shims or purchase new ones.

You will find that some brake shims come with special adhesive material attached to them. You would simply attach the brake shims to the back of your brake pads (or hire a professional to do it for you).

Is Brake Pad Grease Necessary?

If you have brake shims installed between your brake calipers and brake pads, there may still be instances when you hear noises coming from your braking system. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your brake rotors are to blame.

Usually, these noises occur because your brake shims are not lubricated enough grease or some other formulated lubricant. This will assist the shims in aligning the caliper and pads properly while reducing friction.

Just apply a thin film of grease to each shim if they have not already been lubricated. Never apply grease to the front of the brake pads!

Other Symptoms of Missing Brake Shims 

Squealing noises are the most common symptom of missing shims and grease. However, you may experience other symptoms too, such as bad brake response or a pulsating brake pedal.

This is due to the brake pads not being properly aligned with the brake calipers. Because of this, the brake pads cannot adequately interact with the brake rotors to slow down the vehicle in time.

On top of that, it will wear out your brake pads and calipers quickly as well. Then you will be forced to replace your brake pads, brake calipers, and brake shims all at the same time.

8 thoughts on “What Happens if Brake Pads Are Installed Without Shims and Grease?”

  1. Well explained,thank you,as have had a banging coming from all wheels only since I had the brakes done no noise before,a friend had same problem and he got his brakes done at same garage,he went elsewhere to be told the shims had been replaced,garage sorted this,took no money from my friend and banging noise was gone so I was checking out what shims were and you explained it spot on,thank you

  2. Ive been telling this to people for years,I’m gonna be 50 next week,been working on cars since i was 11, about how when you do a brake job you MUST put grease on your pads,obviously not on the surface that contacts the rotor but on the area where it rests in the corners of the caliper bracket and on the back of the pad,the area that contacts the caliper and pistons.

    When you buy a set of cheap 20 dollar pads or a 100 dollar ceramic pads top of the line and you install them properly with grease only one thing will happen, you will have dust or you wont and thats it, i get a chuckle when i hear people say “buy the high dollar ones,those dont squeal” ha ha ha.

    If you are low on the dinero buy you some intermediate pads,those usually are real nice but always use your brake grease, usually at your neighborhood part store at the counter they will have a little rack with all kinds of little bags with stuff like brake grease, dielectric grease for your spark plug boots and so forth, that stuff is not there for looks, it works and its cheap, usually a 99 cent little bag will do a set of front or rear brakes if you squeeze it hard enough.

    In my lifetime i have probably done 100 plus brake jobs and i haven’t had a single person call me irate because the Brakes are squealing, not a single time, remember G-R-E-A-S-E everytime you do your brake job,you will be glad you did and your significant other will think your a magician because you got rid of that squeal,lol,

    Brake grease is called that because its special, you can’t use that grease that you cooked your bacon on last night,brakes work with friction,they get incredibly hot so this grease is made to withstand high temperatures without melting and running out so buy the right thing and be safe when you do your brake job, take care.

    • Carlos, I agree. In fact, sometimes high dollar pads are even more likely to squeal if you’re shopping for track pads, for instance. I grease the back of my pads and the parts that contact the caliper hardware and have never had an issue with excessive brake noise.

  3. I have install discs and brakes on all 4 corners and had to fit 2 sets of pads and 3 sets of shims. This is due to a clicking on just one brake, but still it is clicking. I give up as it has cost me a lit of time and money.

    Could you tell me what is the problem please

    • Make sure you’re using brake parts lubricant on the brake hardware, including the shims. This may cut down on noise. When you do this, do not put lubricant of any kind of the pad material or rotors.

      If it still clicks, there may be a mechanical problem with the caliper. A local shop should be able to help you diagnose the problem.

    • As long as the shims are removable it should be fine. The purpose of shims is to help reduce braking noise and vibration. Some pads (especially performance pads) don’t even come with them.


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