Model 3 Brakes Squeal When Reversing and Turning in Humid Weather

About three weeks after taking delivery of my Model 3, I began encountering brake squealing under very specific conditions:

  • The car is sitting for a few hours.
  • The weather is humid.
  • The car is slowly going in reverse.
  • The car is turning.

Here’s audio of the problem:

Audio of Brake Squealing When Model 3 is Reversing and Wheels are Being Turned

I’ve worked on brakes myriad times over the past decades and this kind of problem usually happens when condensation accumulates on the caliper brackets. And, it happens when braking in any direction (forward or reverse), regardless of whether the wheels are being turned or not.

Thus, it’s strange that the squealing only occurs while reversing and turning the wheels. I have two theories, both involving the lack of caliper grease. One is simple: The caliper brackets need more caliper grease.

The second is more involved and explains more of what might be the problem. The calipers and/or the caliper brackets shift out of place when the brakes are applied in reverse and the car is turning, indicating that the calipers and/or the brackets may not be set properly, or that the brakes’ structural housing is faulty. In this extreme position, the brake parts slide along a section that lacks grease. And thus, the squealing.

This problem is had by many. Read the posts on Tesla’s forums about Brakes screech only when I’m backing up

And, lastly, I had to insist that Tesla in Milford, where I went for service, keep my car for observation over many days to replicate the issue, as they couldn’t do so in the short time I was in their shop. They wouldn’t believe me, even when I provided them with the audio recording I listed above. It took them two days to replicate the problem; see my update below.

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Update

Tesla carried out the repair sometime between 13–14 October 2019. (I brought my car in for service on 11 October 2019.) The verbatim resolution from my invoice:

Test drove car with customer could not duplicate noise, let car sit outside to cool off and test drove car again backing up and turning, could not get car to make any abnormal noises, inspected brakes, wheels and tires, Let car sit outside overnight, verified noise, disassembled, cleaned and lubricated and de-burnished, let car sit overnight and retested, noise is no longer present.

Published by Roy

I am an instructor, programmer, and composer based in New York City.

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