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The Ultimate Guide to Solving Squeaky Brakes

One of the most irritating sounds in the entire world is the sound of your brakes squeaking when you press the pedal. Plenty of us have heard it before, wondering if it could be an issue with the brakes themselves or if it’s just something that brakes do. Given the fact that not everyone has experience with basic car maintenance, we don’t always know how to tell when squeaky brakes are a serious issue.

Luckily, in most cases, squeaking brakes don’t indicate a huge issue. However, it can still be frustrating, as it feels like there is nothing you can do outside of waiting for it to stop or turning up the radio. On the off-chance it’s serious, you may be ignoring a problem that can become dangerous down the road. Thankfully, there are multiple reasons why your brakes may be squeaking and several ways you can fix them.

Why Are Your Brakes Squealing?

If you want to stop brake squeal from happening, you’ll need to first understand why your brakes are squealing. The source of the squealing can depend on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The pads being worn down to the wear indicators
  • Sticking caliper components causing the pads to drag on the rotors
  • The type of brakes your car has
  • The type of climate you live in

While it can be hard to pinpoint the exact reason your brakes are squealing, there are a few common reasons you can rule out before considering taking your vehicle to a mechanic. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most common issues that lead to squeaky brakes.

Worn Brake Pads

Most brake pads now come with mechanical wear indicators that serve one purpose; to notify you that it is time to change your brakes. This indicator will begin making contact with the brake rotor once the pads have worn down below their effective service life.

Worn and Damaged Hardware

If your car has developed squeaky brakes over time that have progressively gotten worse, you may have a hardware issue. While it may not look like it, brake hardware is spring loaded, and over time, loses its tension ultimately causing a squeaking sound when you brake. Alternatively, your brake pads could have debris on them, which can cause squeaking or squealing. Lastly, your brake pads may have become glazed over time due to heat from hard braking. This can cause a squealing sound and reduce the overall effectiveness of your brakes, so it is important to get it checked out.

Moisture Buildup or Lack of Lubrication

After a period of disuse for your vehicle, you may notice the first few times you hit the brakes, they squeak. This is actually relatively normal, as moisture builds up on the brake pads when they’re not in use. This forms rust, which can cause squeaking as it wears off. You may also find that you have squeaky brakes if you do not have enough lubricant on the brake caliper components; a lack of lubricant can potentially damage your brakes over time.

Your Brake Pad Material

The last common cause of squeaky brakes has to do with the brake pads themselves. There are multiple types of brake pads, and one of the types, semi-metallic brake pads, is known for producing an occasional squeaking noise. Lack of uniformity in the pads may cause squealing, which is a known issue with this type of pad.

How to Stop Brakes From Squeaking

Now that you understand the factors that can contribute to why your brakes are squealing and what the most common causes are, you’re ready to tackle the problem itself. There are several steps you can take at home – or ask a professional to perform – to fix squeaky brakes.

Naturally, if you see an obvious issue with your car’s brake shoes, pads, or rotors, you should consult a professional for repairs. However, if everything looks to be in good condition, some basic maintenance may solve the problem. It’s vital, however, that you ensure your brake system is properly re-installed after you complete your at-home maintenance, as incorrectly installed brakes can lead to brake failure. If you are confident you can safely repair your own brakes, we’ve outlined the steps you can take for at-home repairs below.

1

Replace the Brake Hardware

Your hardware takes a toll in keeping your braking system together. Fortunately, new brake hardware kits are relatively inexpensive and can often stop brake squeal. As hardware will occasionally break, this can cause a squeaking noise. Replacing and updating your hardware might solve this problem.

2

Replace Your Brake Pads

In some cases, your brake pads are the issue in regards to your squeaky brakes. Whether your brakes contain contaminants, have simply worn down over time, or have become glazed, it’s possible that replacing them can solve your issue. We always recommend replacing the rotors with new pads, as well as new hardware. New brake pads may squeak during the first few uses. However, the sound should quickly dissipate through use.

3

Apply Lubrication to Contact Points

As we mentioned previously, another reason your brakes are squeaking may have to do with a lack of lubrication between the contact points on your caliper hardware and backplates. Applying brake lubricant to this area can fix squeaky brakes for good in some cases.

4

Consult the Professionals

Ultimately, the above maintenance tips should help you fix squeaky brakes. Keep in mind that, in some cases, it simply has to do with the material your brake pads are made of. However, if you take care of all of your brake maintenance and still find that you have issues with squeaky brakes, you may want to consult a professional mechanic for additional help. Brakes are an exceptionally important safety feature, so it’s important to eliminate potential problems.

Alternatively, if you need help in navigating the right components to repair your vehicle’s braking system and stop brake squeal, we encourage you to contact us at AutoZone. A member of our team will be more than happy to assist you. Simply let us know what problems you’re experiencing, and we can help you find the tools and parts you need to solve it.

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