Squeaky brakes are problematic for reasons beyond that annoying noise. Squealing or squeaking brakes sometimes indicate there is an urgent problem that requires immediate attention. If you were to continue to avoid addressing your squeaky brake problem, it would eventually lead to dangerous on-road situations that pose a threat to your safety as well as the safety of your vehicle’s riders and other drivers on the road. Let’s take a look at the top causes of squeaky brakes.
The Brake Rotor Might be Rusted
Automobile brake rotors gradually become less smooth as time progresses. This transition from smooth to comparably coarse is one of the top causes of brakes squeaking. However, rust and even debris has the potential to form or accumulate within the brakes and generate a squeaking noise. If this is the actual problem, the debris or rust can be filed off, potentially solving the problem.
Worn Brake Pads
Older automobiles that squeak when braking are likely saddled by worn brake pads. The squeaking sound is the result of the metal pads within the brake pad wearing down. The noise is an indication that the pads are wearing to the point that they have the potential to damage the rotor. In fact, worn brake pads are by far the most common cause of squeaky brakes. Think of this noise as a helpful warning indicator that lets you know your vehicle’s brake pads require replacement or attention in another form.
You Might be Braking too Hard
In some cases, pressing the brakes with excessive force is the cause of the squeaking brakes. Brake too hard too often and your vehicle’s brake pads will wear down that much quicker and to a greater extent. Furthermore, the heat created during such hard braking warps brake discs as well as rotors, both of which will lead to brakes squeaking.
There Might be Loose Brake Components
Braking systems have numerous components. The disc, also referred to as the drum brake along with the calipers, rotors, and hoses comprise the brake system in full. If such components loosen, they will vibrate and generate a squeaking noise. It is quite possible the lubrication, altering, or cleaning of the faulty part might make a difference in terms of noise reduction. There is no harm in having the brakes inspected to determine if one or several parts have loosened.
Road Conditions or the Weather
In some cases, humidity, snow, rain, and other inclement weather cause brakes to squeal. This noise results from condensation that builds up beneath the brake rotors. However, the noise is unlikely to last for a lengthy amount of time as the brakes will gradually warm and likely mitigate the noise. If you notice your vehicle’s brakes squeak during bad weather, consider putting your vehicle within the garage during the night or keep it in a climate-controlled space such as an enclosed parking garage. This comparably warm and sheltered space just might make the difference between quiet brakes and squeaky brakes.
The Rotor has not Worn Evenly
Rotors that wear in an uneven manner are warped. Warped rotors do not allow the brake pads to press against the brake rotor as designed. Instead of pressing flat, the brake pad will be bumpy. The result is vibrations that create noise such as squeaks or squeals. Aside from vibrations, worn brake pads that do not wear in an even manner will fail to press right to the rotor and end up creating noise.
Loosely Mounted Brake Pads
There is also a chance the brake pads are not mounted correctly. Perhaps the shims that hold the brake pads in position have loosened or become corroded. In fact, it is even possible for cheap brake pads to be the cause of the noise. Mechanics far and wide agree low-cost brake pads create significantly more noise than comparably expensive brake pads.
Mind the Calipers
If the brake calipers are sticking or loose, they must be addressed as soon as possible. Otherwise, their poor fit has the potential to create the annoying squeaking sound that gets worse as time progresses.
Water, Moisture, or Dirt Might be the Problem
There is a chance the buildup of dirt, moisture, water, or other particles is the cause of the squealing sound. Even high humidity can lead to the buildup of condensation that causes noise. In some cases, such squealing stemming from condensation will dissipate after a couple of brake applications.
Your Driving Style Might be the Cause of the Problem
Though unlikely, there is a chance your driving style is the root cause of the noisy brakes. If you brake excessively, brake while traversing down a significant decline, or brake while transporting a particularly heavy load, your brakes will likely squeal. You can reduce the noise by limiting the weight of the load you carry. Limiting load weight decreases pressure on the brakes, ultimately reducing the chances of resulting noise. It will also help to drive at least a couple car lengths away from the vehicle ahead of you. Maintain a safe driving distance and you won’t have to press as hard on the brakes in order to stop in time to avoid an accident, ultimately reducing the chances of brake squealing. Drivers should also downshift to a lower gear when traversing steep grades instead of pressing the brakes over and over again.