Squeaky brakes could be the result of recent snow or rain, surface rust forming on your rotors, dirt particles caught in your brake system, or a sign that your brake pads are worn down. If the squeaking sound goes away after a few brake pedal applications, you likely do not need to replace your brakes.
However, if the brake squeaking continues, you may have something more serious. If your brakes squeak constantly while you move, this may be due to a built-in wear indicator on the brake pads. As brake pads deteriorate and lose their consistency, a small tab starts rubbing the rotor, warning you that it's time for a brake pad replacement. Note that not all brake pads are identical, and some wear indicators might only squeak as you come to a halt.
Additionally, you may experience irregular rotor wear, which stops your brake pads from having optional stopping power. Warped rotors induce sounds and vibrations while braking and can make driving uncomfortable. Warped rotors can also wear your car brake pads unevenly as they don't push flat against the rotors when applying the vehicle brake pedal.
Occasionally, brake pads do not remain mounted securely, or the shims that hold them in place become lax, creating a squeaky noise. However, since the brakes are a considerable part of your vehicle's performance, having a technician check them is the best bet if you're uncertain of the issue.
How to Fix Squeaky Brakes
If you notice a squeaking noise coming from your vehicle brakes, worn brake pads are generally the primary problem that comes to mind. However, if your brake pads are not worn, you may be able to fix squeaky brakes with these methods:
- Method 1: Put Some Grease or Other Lubricant on the Brake Pads
If your vehicle brakes are new and still making a squeaking sound, the fix may be as easy as lubricating the touchpoints. Lubricating the brake pads involved taking the brake pads out from the calipers and then spreading brake lubricant to the back of the brake pad, not the friction material.
Make sure that the rotor and brake pad friction exterior are not covered with any lubricant or greases as this could significantly decrease braking performance.
- Method 2: Put a Set of Shims
For additional help against loud brakes, try using brake pad shims. Depending on your car, your brake pads may have shims already installed out of the box. If not, you can install the brake pad shims on the brake pads to prevent brake noise.
These shims take up any space that would let the brake pads push around and usually have a slight rubber coating to soak up any pulses that would result in a squeaky noise.
- Method 3: Replace the Rotors and Pads
Sometimes, as your vehicle brakes approach the end of their useful life, it implies that the pads and rotors got damaged. If the brake pad friction cover wears down, you’ll ultimately hear a squealing sound because the brake caliper and rotor start touching. You might also hear a noise due to bent rotors which indicate the brake pads cannot touch the rotors evenly during braking.
You can check the width of your brake pads by just inspecting them behind your wheels. If your brake pad holds less than 3/8” of friction component left, the rotor cover contains prominent grooves, or the rotor has a bulged exterior, you should replace your brake pads to ensure safety on the road.
Why Do Brake Pads Make a Squeaking Sound
Here are some reasons your brake pads are making a squeaking sound:
- Damaged or Thinning Brake Pads
The most common reason for brake squealing is damaged brake pads. Brake pads are purposely created with a metal piece that emits a high-pitched squeak when they wear down to the bottom. Similarly, a small layer of rust over your vehicle's brake pads can make a similar squeaking sound, but that sound will eventually wither away after applying a few brakes.
If the noise remains as you drive along, you should get your brakes inspected right away. If you let the issue go unattended and the constant squeaking shifts into grinding, you will require new rotors with your car's brake pads. Replacing your rotors and brake pads can be more than double the price of your next brake replacement.
- Dust or Dirt Between the Rotors and Pads
Another common reason for brake pads making a squealing sound is dust, mud, or other debris on the exterior of your pads or rotors. This buildup can occur in different driving conditions or if your vehicle sits for an extended period accumulating dust.
In this situation, a spray with cleaner or simply cleaning the surface will usually fix the problem. The sound might also go away after you apply a few brakes as it allows the friction between the rotors and pads to wipe away the debris.
- Excessive Overnight Moisture
If you notice an odd-sounding squeaking the first time you wake up in the morning, this could be normal, especially if your vehicle has been exposed to snow, rain, or humidity overnight.
When moisture forms on your brakes or brake pads, a thin coating of rust can slowly build up on the brakes and rotors, generating a grinding or squeaking sound when you apply your vehicle brakes. However, this rust buildup can usually get fixed with daily driving. To avoid this issue, you should try parking your vehicle indoors to guard your brakes against collecting moisture.
- Lack of Lubrication
If your vehicle has drum brakes, the squeaking sound can also show up due to a lack of lubrication at the touchpoints between the drum and shoes. Without lubrication, the drum shoes begin to scrape against the backing scale, causing a squeaking noise.
The Bottom Line
If you hear loud squeaking noises that do not go away from driving, you should contact a mechanic to get your car inspected.
Here at NuBrakes, we offer mobile auto technicians that will come to your home or office for brakes, oil, maintenance, and more so that you have the most convenient repair service while saving you time and money. Contact us for a free car repair quote.