Why do My Brakes Squeal? May Be Time for New Brake Pads

December 29th, 2014 by

Squealing brakes can be unsettling for the driver and annoying for fellow motorists. However, brakes squeal can be an indication of an underlying issue. According to HowStuffWorks, some brake noise can be normal, but a squealing noise can be produced from the metal rotor. If that’s the case, there are ways to correct this and other squeaky brake culprits.

You Might Need New Brake Pads

worn brake pad brakes brakes squeal
In a HowStuffWorks article, Michael Franco writes that when your brake pads are worn down they are designed to emit a squealing noise. The brake pad clamps down on the rotor, according to Autoblog, causing the vehicle to come to a stop. The brake pads are housed inside a caliper. If the brake pad is worn through, the steel backing on the brake pad will grind into the rotor. It is important that if you hear a squealing or grinding noise to have your brakes serviced. If the brake pads become worn down entirely then “the metal of the calipers is grinding against the metal of your rotors.” This can damage your rotors, which can be a costly repair.

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads Can Be Noisy

According to HowStuffWorks, the semi-metallic brake pads that are in new cars are harder than previously used brake pads. The squeaking happens because “the metal rotor that the brake pads squeeze together can sometimes vibrate, causing a squeaking noise.” They advise using a milk spray, lotion, or cream on the back of the pads; using sandpaper to sand off surface hardening on the brake pad/shoe surface, or trying a different brand of brake pad. Because brakes are vital to the safe functioning of a vehicle, they advise having a trained professional try these solutions, and also check for other possible problems with the brakes. In compact cars, a high-pitched squeal is sometimes emitted when brakes are cold and damp. Some brake pads are noisier than others as well.

Overheated Brake Pads Cause Brakes Squeal

Brakes can become overheated when the friction between all of the parts is not applied correctly, according to Autoblog. Overheating occurs when “the pad is in constant contact with the rotor, producing excessive friction and thus heat.” This happens when the brake calipers stick, resulting in the brake remaining partially applied. The overheated pads harden and crystallize from the heat. Overtime, this produces weakened breaking power and a squealing noise.

There May Be Some Loose Parts

WikiHow suggests trying to “wiggle the brake pad, calipers, and other brake components. They should not move with just your hands.” If there is a loose part, that may be the reason why your brakes are squealing. Brake pads can also move if shims or clips are loose, damaged, or missing.
Visit Fisher Auto in Boulder, Colo., to have your brakes checked and serviced. Call us at 303-245-6414 to schedule a service appointment.