Caring for Your Car 7 July 2022

Are your car brakes squeaking?


Squeaking and squealing when you hit the brake pedal can be pretty alarming – but don’t panic. Read on to find out more about why your brakes are squeaking and what we can do to fix it.

Why do my brakes squeak?

To understand why your brakes are squeaking, it’s helpful to understand what parts are involved in the brake system. Most modern cars have disc brakes on all four wheels. In older models, the rear wheels may have what’s known as drum brakes, which work by pushing a “shoe” into a drum attached to the inside of the wheel, using the resulting friction to slow the movement of the car. Below is a list of components for disc brakes, which use a more sophisticated set up.

  • Master cylinder: pushes hydraulic fluid into the brake lines, managing the amount of pressure behind the brakes – the more pressure, the faster the car slows down. The pressure is created by pushing on the brake pedal.
  • Brake rotors: rotors are attached to the wheels and spin with them. Calipers and brake pads squeeze against the spinning rotor to slow it down. They absorb much of the heat generated from braking.
  • Brake pads: these are made from a variety of materials depending on brand, quality and purpose. They press against the brake discs to slow them down. This generates a lot of heat, so brake pads need to be able to withstand this heat in order to work effectively.
  • Brake drum: in some cars, the rear wheels are slowed when a brake shoe presses against a drum connected to the inside of the wheel.
  • Calipers: using hydraulic pressure, calipers push the brake pads onto the discs.
  • Brake pedal: the lever you apply your foot to inside the car when braking.
  • ABS (anti lock braking system): a safety feature that kicks in if you brake suddenly, causing the brakes to lock. A computer uses sensors to determine if one or more wheels has locked and will automatically release the brake pressure so the tyre can regain traction.

Faults, damage or wear to some of these components can cause squeaking brakes.

What causes squeaky brakes?

mycar mechanics go through a comprehensive checklist when determining the cause of squeaky brakes. The most common reason for a continuous, high-pitched brake squeal whenever you put your foot down is your brake pads getting low. Brake pads are made up of a steel backing plate and a layer of friction material that presses against the disc. It’s this friction material that wears down over time.

Most brakes these days are made with a small metal tab that scrapes against the disc when the pads are low, this is a wear indicator that emitsthe noise you hear to let you know it’s time to book in for a brake pad replacement.

Cars that sit outside overnight can build up moisture on the discs, which then causes a fine layer of rust particles across the surface. When the brakes are applied, the rust is rubbed off, which makes the noise. This will usually wear off after a few applications of the brakes.

A warped brake disc can also contribute to noisy brakes. As the pads press against them, it causes vibrations which then emit a noise. An excessively worn brake disc can cause squealing. Often a lip is formed on the edge of the brake disc as it wears down. This high spot rubs against the edge of the brake pad and causes a squealing noise.

Uneven brake pad wear can also cause squealing. This can be due to worn out piston seals inside the caliper or incorrect shims uses in the previous pad installation.

New brakes may be a bit squeaky when first fitted, but will tend to settle down quickly as they are “worn in”. Overall, if the noise goes away once the pads are worn, it may not be a major issue, but if the noise is there every time you apply the brake pedal; then it could indicate a bigger problem and best to get it checked out.

How to fix squeaky brakes

Trust a professional to do the hard work for you. When you bring your car into a mycar service centre, our mechanics take the time and care to find the cause and fix squeaky brakes. This includes examining every component looking for wear and damage. We’ll have your noisy brakes nice and quiet and stopping sharp, no dramas, so you can get safely back on your way.

Book a brake repair and service with mycar.


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