You know when people at an event find out someone is a doctor, they start questioning them about all that ails them? The same holds true for an auto mechanic.
Of course, I’ve had people ask many different questions. But one pops up quite frequently:
I just replaced my brakes a few weeks ago. Why are my new brakes squeaking?
When you own a vehicle, it comes with the general understanding that you’ll have to provide regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. That means gas, oil changes, new tires, and the occasional brake job to ensure you stay safe and secure.
While every manufacturer is different, on average, brake pads need to be replaced about every 40,000 miles. You should check with your car’s manufacturer; you can find more information in your owner’s manual.
Also, keep in mind that 50,000 miles is just a guideline. Some cars may need new brakes after 25,000, others can push it to 75,000. It depends on a wide variety of factors, including your driving habit and road conditions.
But what happens when you are diligent at maintenance, you replace your brakes, only to find a squeaking noise every time you press down on the brake pedal just a short time later?
There are two kinds of brakes
First of all, it’s good to know a little bit about your car’s braking system.
Most cars on the road today have disc brakes. This is where a brake pad presses against a rotor or disk in order to effectively stop the vehicle. If you have a car with disc brakes, the squeaking can be caused by:
- Settling overnight. If it’s rained, or condensation from moisture or dew forms on the breaks, it can squeak as your car first starts out.
- Wearing down. As brakes wear down, the pad thins until it reaches a built in core designed to make noise to warn you it’s time for replacement.
- Installing cheap breaks. Yes, there are differences in brake manufacturers. This is where it’s important to trust the mechanic installing your brakes.
Some vehicles also use drum brakes located on the rear wheels. Cars with drum brakes are installed with a curved pad that presses against a drum to stop the vehicle. They start to squeak when the pad contact points run out of lubrication.
What causes your brakes to squeak?
If you haven’t replaced your brake pads in a while, and you’re moving closer to your manufacturer’s suggested time frame for replacement, the squeaking can be caused from a thin brake pad. But if you’ve replaced your brake pads recently, that squeaking noise you’re hearing can be caused by other things.
Metal fibers – A lot of brake pads are made from metal fibers. Occasionally, some of these metal fibers are too close to one another, and rub together. This can cause a squeaking noise until they wear away.
Panic stopping – You know that feeling of driving and having someone dart out in front of, causing you to stomp on the brake pedal? That’s panic stopping. And when you do that right after a brake job, it can heat up the brakes and produce a glossy finish on the pad. This causes friction when you apply the brakes from that point forward, causing a squeaking noise.
Brakes stuck – The brake system works by a series of caliper pins that release and contract the brake pads to the rotors every time you step on the brake pedal and release it. If one of these caliper pins gets stuck, the brake pad sticks at an angle to the rotor, creating a squeaking sound. It’s also important to note that if both caliper pins stick, the brake pad will remain against the rotor, which typically results in a burning smell. A quick trip to a mechanic will allow us to release the stuck caliper pins and ensure it’s well lubricated, or determine if they are damaged enough to warrant new calipers, which in many cases also means new brake pads and rotors.
Brake rotors – While you may have replaced the brake pads, there may be a problem with the rotors. If the rotors weren’t replaced with the brake pads, they might not have meshed with the new brake pads. This can cause the squeaking sound, and it may take longer to come to a stop.
Low quality brakes – It may also be a fact the brake pads are of lower quality, and aren’t well suited for your vehicle. Not all brake pads are created equal. If you went with a discount brake shop, or “trusted” a friend of a friend, they may have sold you brake pads that aren’t appropriate for your vehicle. Cheap brake pads may be more prone to brake dust. This can cause more squeaking noises as you drive.
Now that you have squeaky brakes, what can you do about it?
Squeaky brakes are one of the most annoying problems you can have with your vehicle. It’s designed that way because it’s also one of the most dangerous.
But squeaky brakes are even more annoying when you’ve recently had them replaced. They can’ be in bad shape, so why the noise?
By reading the few causes from above, you might already have a good idea of what could potentially be wrong. This is where it’s important to understand how your vehicle works.
You can start by looking for loose connections or parts. In some cases, the mechanic may not have tightened the calipers, pads, and other components all the way down. This vibration may cause some sounds.
If you notice any loose clips or components, they should be replaced immediately.
You can also check the brake pads for signs of wear. Modern disk brakes have wear markers designed to make noise when the pads are close to wearing down. If you hear noises, it’s best to let a professional mechanic check out your braking system, and ensure everything is working at its best.
If you have any questions about how your braking system is working, don’t wait. It’s one of the most important systems on your vehicle. We’re happy to check the condition and correct any problems we may find.
And get you back on the road in no time.