Why Are My Brakes Squeaking? | Tips for Squeaky Brakes

September 23rd, 2021 by

Your brakes play one of the most critical roles in the safe operation of your car during your Youngstown, Ohio, commute. They have the tremendous responsibility of stopping your vehicle, sometimes in a gentle manner and other times in an emergency. If your brakes fail, you could end up in a collision, possibly with injuries.

Fortunately, your brakes talk to you all the time if you listen. While they don’t use the English language, they communicate in ways a conscientious driver will understand. Vibrations, sounds, and unusual behavior from your brakes signal potential problems you might have with your brake system. Let’s take a closer look at what you should listen for that might indicate possible brake issues.

man holding brake rotor

How Do Brakes Work?

Your vehicle’s braking system has multiple components that work together to bring your car to a stop. These parts have mechanical and hydraulic elements that must operate precisely for effective braking. For example, when you depress the brake pedal, you engage the mechanical lever that then pressurizes hydraulic fluid in your brake lines. This hydraulic fluid forces the calipers to close.

Your brake pads attached to the calipers clamp down on your brake rotors or discs. Because your rotors connect to your wheels, the force applied by the pads stops your wheels from turning, which allows your car to stop.

Squeaking Noises While Braking

You’ll hear squeaking from your brakes when there’s a potential problem. Squeaking brakes are your brakes telling you there’s something wrong. You don’t want to ignore this cry for help. Several reasons could cause your brakes to squeak.

Worn brake pads most commonly cause this squeaking because manufacturers designed your brake pads to slowly wear out from the friction between the pads and rotors. Because of this, brake pad manufacturers embed metal pins within the pads that appear before your pads wear out completely. This early warning signal allows you to replace your pads before an unsafe situation or damage to your rotors occurs.

If you ignore this warning, the brake pads will wear out, leaving only the metal the pad mounts on. This metal pad then damages the rotors, scoring them beyond repair in most cases. Also, continuing to drive with worn-out brake pads can damage your calipers as the friction heat created by stopping now transfers to the caliper instead of the pad designed to absorb it. You should have your brakes inspected immediately if you hear any squeaking sounds to avoid more expensive repairs.

Also, a rusted or dirty brake rotor can cause squeaking brakes. Rust or corrosion can occur, especially if you don’t drive your car often. In addition, dirt and debris can build up, which affects your rotors’ smoothness and cause squeaking noise. At Sweeney Buick-GMC, our service center technicians can file your rotors down to a smooth surface again. Ignoring this could cause more damage.

Shake and Brake

You might experience your vehicle shaking when you apply the brakes. Again, your brakes are trying to tell you they have a problem. Several issues could cause this shaking while braking. Most likely, you have oil, dirt, or debris built up on your rotors. This debris can cause your brakes to shake when activated, as well as make a squeaking noise. You could sense a slight vibration through the steering wheel, or you might feel the entire car start to shake depending on the amount of debris present.

Warped rotors can cause the shaking action during braking. Like your brake pads, manufacturers designed your rotors to wear out over time from friction heat. However, as they get thinner, they become less resistant to the heat and can warp. At this point, you must replace your rotors before they cause damage to your calipers or wheels.

How Long Do Brakes Last?

man holding break pad

Like most wear and tear parts, you can’t give an exact number of miles or years that they will last. Your driving habits and weather influence the rate at which your pads wear. Also, driving in mountainous regions causes your brakes to wear sooner than if you drove in mostly flat areas. If you experience heavy stop-and-go traffic on your Youngstown commute, this causes your brakes to wear faster than driving in light traffic.

So, how long do brake pads last? You can expect your brake pads to last between 25,000 to 60,000 miles. However, since no definitive number exists, experts recommend having your brakes inspected at least every other oil change or around every 10,000 miles. In this way, you can see wear progression and plan to replace your pads before they become an issue.

If you haven’t had your brakes inspected recently, you should probably bring your car in for service to ensure your safety. You can always visually check your brakes yourself if you can see through your wheel spokes to the pads beneath. You might need a flashlight to see the brake pad mounted to the calipers. If you have less than 1/4-inch of pad remaining, you should replace your pads.

Why Are My New Brakes Squeaking?

At some point, you must have wondered, ‘Why are my brakes squeaking after I changed them?'” You’re not alone. New brake pads can sometimes squeak due to metal-on-metal contact between the calipers and pads. You have two options to quiet the squeaking. First, you can grease the contact points between the calipers and pads. To do this, you must remove the pads from the caliper first. We recommend you have one of our certified technicians perform this service.

Installing a set of brake shims can stop the squeaking. Many brake pads have shims pre-installed. If not, you must remove the pads to install the shims between the calipers and pads. The shims take up the slack, preventing them from moving and thus squeaking. Also, shims have a thin layer of rubber that helps absorb vibrations that cause squeaking.

At Sweeney Buick-GMC, we understand the critical role brakes play in the safe operation of your car. That’s why all of our service center technicians receive extensive factory training to maintain and repair your brake system. If you experience any squeaking or other issues with your brakes, we recommend you have your car inspected immediately.

You can schedule service with us online or stop by our service center any time. One of our brake experts will inspect your system and provide you a detailed estimate of the expense. Often, we can fix your problem in less than 30 minutes, getting you back to your busy life quickly.

Posted in Tips