Squeaky Brakes: Why it happens and how to fix it?
Posted on September 7, 2021
Is there anything more annoying in the world than squeaky brakes?
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably spent time wondering if there’s a serious problem going on that you need to give attention to or if that steady whine that your brakes are emitting is a simple fix.
Our latest entry into our ongoing series of car maintenance tips aims to answer why your brakes are squeaking and provide some insights into how to fix them.
Why are my brakes squeaking?
Well, you’re in luck. Most of the time noise is caused by nothing more than vibration between the brake disc, caliper, and brake pad. This could be caused by any number of inaccuracies in the brake system that will cause noise when the brake pedal is depressed. Sometimes, the inaccuracy will work itself out through repeated use but for others, there is nothing to be done because the damage will cause the brakes to squeal no matter how many times they are applied.
Squeaky Car Brake Causes
If you’re lucky, the noise that you’re hearing is due to light oxidation on the rotor. This can happen as quickly as overnight so it may strike you as alarming when it first presents itself. Rest easy though, this one is no cause for alarm!
New pads can also sometimes emit a squeal of discontent. Nothing to worry about, the newer that they are the more friction they cause and therefore the more noise. Some regular commuting use will wear the new pads down and eventually do away with the noise.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, worn brake pads will also emit a squeal as a warning that your pads need to be replaced. The lower that you get on your pads, a metal strip is eventually revealed that gives off a noise when you compress the brake letting you know that your pads have been pushed to their limit. The good news is that this is an easy fix! Just get yourself some new brake pads in this case.
A metallic grinding or scraping sound could indicate that your pads are worn down so much that the wear indicator or backing plate is digging into the brake rotor.
If your car is equipped with rear drum brakes and the brake show is making contact with the brake drum, it can cause a grinding sound.
Some causes of squealing brakes could include:
- Contaminated friction material
- Worn or damaged hardware
- Moisture accumulation
- Lack of lubrication to the backing plate
- Pad friction material
How Do I Stop my Brakes From Squeaking?
Stopping the noise from happening when you depress your brakes brings about a few questions. Mainly, do you want to dampen the noise or stop it altogether? For most people, the answer is obvious: altogether, please! Well, sure, but that will require swapping out components which could increase the cost of the procedure. Cost is no issue? Let the swap begin!
If route A is more your speed, rather than changing the pads you can insert a Teflon shim into the device, between the brake pad and the caliper piston. This will work to reduce the vibration that causes squeal in your braking. It won’t work on all systems though — some don’t have space to fit the shim between the components. In that case, this is, sadly, not an option.
Another potential fix is to use brake grease to reduce the friction that would otherwise cause squeaky brakes. There are many anti-seize products on the market that would be perfect for this job and it’s a relatively easy fix. The problem is that it amounts to a temporary fix. You’re going to have to get down on brake level and reapply this fix again and again. If that works for your life, it’s a decent solution!
The Fix Is In
First, you’ll need to decide whether you want to dampen the noise or change the components to stop the sound altogether.
If you don’t want to swap pads, another option is to insert a Teflon shim between the pad and caliper piston. This won’t work for every brake system — some are engineered without any margin of space for a shim to fit without making the pad drag on the disc. You could wear down your pad to a point where it no longer drags with the shim, but that would be a waste of money.
You can use brake grease and anti-seize products to fix your squeaky brakes. This method is a relatively easy and quick way to eliminate that annoying sound. However, we want to point out that applying these products to the back of the brake pad is not a permanent fix, but it does offer temporary relief.
Another potential fix that is a little more involved, is to attach the brake pad backing plate to the caliper piston or the housing for the piston. The goal is always to eliminate vibration, which in turn eliminates any noise emission. This option increases the weight of the piston, which works to help muffle the sound that its vibration could make. The make or break for this method is the adhesive that you use. You’re going to want to make sure that you use quality glue that will be able to withstand all of the harsh conditions that Canadian roads have to throw at it. After all, the last thing that you want is for the additional plate to fall off!
Of course, the fastest, easiest, and most efficient fix for this problem is to let a CarHub certified technician eliminate the problem for you!
Are Squeaky Brakes Bad?
Many people who come into our store with a screechy brake issue ask the same thing: is it caused by something serious?
The short answer is, maybe.
For instance, a metal-on-metal sound could imply some urgency. This happens when the brake pad is worn so low that the metal backing plate comes into contact with the rotor. In short, it’s bad news for the health of your brakes and therefore your safety. It may also lead to expensive repairs down the road so it’s best to take care of sooner than later.
Some of the potentially dangerous effects of metal on metal within your brake system include:
- steering wheel vibration while braking
- pull while driving to one side or the other
- brake shake - if the noise is particularly loud, this could be the culprit
The thing to remember with any abnormal noise coming from your car is that it may be nothing or it may be your car trying to tell you something. It’s always best to listen to what your car is trying to say, it could be something important.
What, you don’t speak car? That’s ok, we do! Our CarHub certified technicians are well versed in the language of cars. Let us do the translating for you. Regular car maintenance is always a recommendation to prevent problems before they are allowed to start!
Contact us today to take care of that annoying squeaky brakes. Your car (and your ears) will thank you!