Why Do My Brakes Squeak?

If you hear “Eeeeeeeek!” from your brakes, it’s time for some service.

We’ve all experienced it. We’re driving around in our cars and trucks, casually trying to get from point A to point B, when we pull up to a traffic light and hear that faint, high-pitched squeaking sound that goes away when the vehicle comes to a full stop. The light turns green. We press the accelerator, resuming the journey to our intended destination only to look up and see another red traffic light. We apply the brakes and begin deceleration, and once again hear the unnerving sound of that unmistakable noise coming from the brakes.

Any experienced driver knows that the brakes aren’t supposed to make noise when the brake pedal is pressed, and when they do hear something unusual, it generally means they need to get their vehicle in for a brake inspection.

The team of trained technicians at Milito’s Auto Repair are used to fielding questions of all kinds, and we’re always happy to educate clients in addition to providing expert service. During routine maintenance and inspections, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “Why do my brakes squeak?”

Squeaky brakes can happen for several reasons, and the more drivers understand about what’s happening, the better they can address the issue at hand.

Brake Pad Wear

Most brake pads, regardless of brand, have built in metal tabs that become exposed as the pads wear down through normal use. These tabs are designed to serve as an audible warning that the pads will soon need to be replaced. If this is the case, a knowledgeable Milito’s mechanic will be able to tell at a glance if normal wear is to blame for the noise, and help get your worn brake pads replaced right away!

Rotor Debris and Imperfection

Over time, brake rotors also experience wear and tear. Small imperfections like warping, worn coating, damaged grooves (on some types of rotors), and the like can lead to squeaking. Similarly, debris like rust, sand, and dirt can get into the rotors and cause moderate squeaking. Even with new rotors, moisture from puddles and condensation can create minor rust pockets and the resulting noise.

In some cases, rotors can be re-coated to resolve the issue. In others, cleaning or sanding away rust and debris will solve the problem. If the rotors are severely warped or damaged, they may need replacing.

Other Factors

Brake systems come in a variety of configurations, and many factors can lead to some squeaking. Some new brake pads will have a brief period of “break in” where they make some noise, and all brakes can be affected by cold weather, lingering moisture, and too much weight.

Lack of necessary lubrication can also cause squeaking, particularly with more complex drum brakes.

Noisy brakes are caused by a wide range of reasons, and many of them can be resolved easily by an experienced mechanic. Any time a braking system begins squeaking (or worse, squealing and/or grinding), it’s a good idea to bring the vehicle in for inspection and routine maintenance. Being proactive about this issue can save money and prevent future problems, as well as ensure the brakes are functioning properly to keep the driver and passengers stopping safely.

If you hear a noise when you slow down, and wonder why the brakes are squeaking, contact Milito’s Auto Repair today for a thorough inspection of your braking system – as well as any necessary repairs!

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