Brakes Squeaking? Here's Why (and the Best Way to Solve It)
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Often, people talk about how fast a vehicle can accelerate or its excellent fuel economy. But equally important is how efficiently it comes to a stop.
Car brakes are essential components that ensure not only your safety but the safety of others, too.
But sometimes, even when your brakes stop just fine, they squeak and make unpleasant noises. What might be a routine trip to the grocery store becomes a test of endurance as you deal with various squeaks and chirps when you stop at every traffic light.
What causes squeaking brakes? How can you fix the squeaky noise coming from your brakes?
Let's look at the subject of brake squeaking and what you can do to fix them.
Why do my brakes squeak?
Your brakes may be squeaking for many reasons.
In the best-case scenario, due to recent rain or snow, surface rust developed on your rotors, and the noises you hear are the pads gradually scraping it off. If there's been a recent bout of humid weather, moisture might have built up, causing the rotor surface to corrode. Or if you've been driving on unpaved roads, dirt particles might collect, staying put until being wiped away by the brake pads.
In any of these scenarios, if the squeaking goes away after a few applications of the brake pedal, you're good to do.
But if the brake squeaking persists, it may indicate something more serious.
If your brakes emit a squeak continuously while you drive, it may be the result of a built-in wear indicator on the pads. As brake pads wear out and lose their thickness, a small tab begins scratching the rotor, alerting you that it's time for a replacement. But not all brake pads are the same, and some wear indicators might only squeak as you come to a stop.
Or you may be experiencing uneven rotor wear, preventing the brake pads from making optimal contact during stopping. Warped rotors caused noise and vibration during brake application, making for an unpleasant drive.
And the same could be true for your brake pads if they wear unevenly and don't press flat against the rotors when you apply the brake pedal.
Sometimes, brake pads aren't securely mounted, or the shims that keep them in place become loose, making a squeaky noise.
But since your brakes are such a significant part of your vehicle's overall performance, having a mechanic inspect them is the best bet if you're unsure of the problem.
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How to fix the squeaky noise coming from your brakes
Several methods exist to fix brake squeaking, ranging from simple solutions to full-on replacement.
If you have a new car or recently installed brakes that continue to squeak, you might only need to grease the contact points. First, you'll need to remove the brake pads from the caliper. Then, apply lubrication to areas like the back of the pads and various contract points on the caliper carrier. Remember not to get any grease on the rotors or pad surface, as it could hinder their function.
Sometimes, brake pads vibrate because they aren't securely in place. You can fix this by installing a set of shims to eliminate vibrations, which should make any squealing noise go away. Shims ensure brake pads are fastened tightly to the brake calipers and typically use a layer of rubber to reduce vibrations.
If you decided to use bargain-priced brake pads the last time around, they alone could be the cause of the squeaking. A mechanic may recommend more expensive, higher-quality metallic pads for better stopping power and less noise.
When your pads and rotors have endured many miles of regular use and won't stop squeaking, it's probably time to have them replaced. At that point, you may hear a loud metal-on-metal grinding noise when you try to stop.
Recognizing pads or rotors in need of replacement can be easier than other causes of brake squeaking, making it a simple decision to visit a repair facility. Brake pads with less than three-eighths of an inch of stopping material left or rotors with visible grooves or prominent raised lips point to the need for a brake job.
Other causes of brake squeaking
Some high-performance vehicles use race-inspired brake systems intended for rigorous use on both roads and racing circuits. On cars like these, it's normal for brake squeaking during cold temperatures or around town driving. The pads may even squeak all of the time. However, the trade-off is better braking performance and durability during demanding driving.
Recently manufactured cars might have an electronic parking brake that causes squeaking, necessitating a visit to a repair facility. Because an electronic parking brake is computer-driven, having it checked out by a qualified mechanic ensures a proper brake inspection.
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How to fix brake squeaking in summary
Driving around with squeaky brakes is no fun and makes everyday trips unpleasant. Brake squeaking might result from vibration, cheap replacement pads, or components at the end of their service life.
Fixing your squeaky brakes can be as simple as applying some grease to specific contact points on the calipers, installing shims, or having them replaced by a mechanic.
If you own a performance car designed for high speed and harsh braking, there may be no way to avoid brake squeaking. That's because many high-performance vehicles use braking systems intended for high temperatures and heavy use, with the drawback being brake squeaking during everyday driving. But the upside of these braking systems is enhanced stopping power and durability during demanding conditions.
Having a mechanic look at your brakes is one of the many expenses that come along with owning a vehicle, like insurance and fuel. Saving money where you can on auto-related costs helps keep extra cash in your bank account for other essential obligations. One way to do this is by securing a good auto loan. Shift works with a network of trusted lenders who compete for your business, so you get the best deal on financing. Applying for financing with Shift is quick and straightforward, with no cost or obligation. Most applicants receive an offer within minutes instead of days. Financing with Shift is so convenient that nine out of 10 customers choose us when they need a loan.
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April 15, 2022
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