Help Please: My Car Brakes are Squealing!

car brakes

Every time you put your foot on the brake pedal, your car brakes make an awful, annoying high-pitched screeching sound—they squeal!

You get disconcerting stares from people on the road, at the traffic signal, and you just wish the earth would open up and swallow you whole.

It has frankly become quite embarrassing for you to drive with your squeaky set of car brakes.

So what could be the problem with your car brakes, and how do you fix them?

Squeaky Car Brakes

Squealing in car brakes is common and can be caused by a number of problems. However, before we get down to discussing these conditions, there is something important that we’d like to ask you:

Where is the “noise” exactly coming from in your car? Is it your front brakes that are squealing or, is the noise coming from your rear brakes?

If it’s your rear brakes that are squealing, we’d suggest that you skip the next section—which covers front brakes—and start reading from “Rear car brakes throwing up”; this will save you time. That said, having extra knowledge never hurts.

Front car brakes throwing up

Today, all cars come fitted with disc brakes on the front wheels.

Disc brakes can squeal due to various reasons, including worn out pads, poor quality brake pads, glazed rotors and pads, and broken anti rattle clips.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these scenarios one by one.

Worn out brake pads

Every disc brake has brake pads. When you hit the brake pedal, these brake pads clamp onto the rotor that is attached to the front wheel hub of your car and bring your car to a stop. 

The brake pads are comprised of steel backing with friction material attached to them. Over time, the friction material on the pads wears down. As that happens, the steel backing in the brake pads comes in direct contact with the rotor every time you apply the brake, and this contact generates a high-pitched squeal.

How to fix the problem: If you have worn out brake pads, get them replaced with new ones. Do you live in Las Vegas? We can help you with your repair; our Las Vegas car care service shop is open six days of the week.

Poor quality brake pads

While all brake pads contain bits of metals, low quality brake pads are manufactured with very high metal content. The metal pieces in these low quality brake pads then drag on the rotor every time the brake is applied, which produces a high-pitched squeak.

How to fix the problem: If you have poor quality brake pads installed in your car, replace them with high quality ones. When shopping, choose brake pads made with organic brake material (rubber, fiber, resin or Kevlar). 

Glazed rotors and pads  

Sticking calipers can also cause disc brakes to squeal.

Disc brakes utilize calipers to grab a spinning rotor. These calipers come with an auto-release mechanism, which enables them to release the rotor when the brake pedal is let go.

Sometimes, a caliper may remain stuck to the rotor, even after you’ve put your foot off the brake pedal, causing the brake to stay partially engaged. When this happens, excessive friction is produced between the rotors and pads of your car, causing them to overheat. Overheated rotors and pads crystallize, and as a result, their surface becomes hard. This is called glazing. When these super hardened surfaces come into contact with each other, a squealing sound is produced.

How to fix the problem: If your pads and rotors have been glazed, you’ll need to replace them. Alternatively, you can get them resurfaced depending on the extent of damage. Talk to your local auto service shop for tailored advice.

Broken anti rattle clips

Anti rattle clips keep the brake pads stable. If they break or wear out, vibration can affect the brake pads, which can cause squealing.

How to fix the problem: If you have broken anti rattle clips, replace them with new ones.  

Rear car brakes throwing up

Most cars have drum brakes on the back wheels. Some modern cars, however, use disc brakes on all four wheels.

If your rear car brakes have a drum design, and they’ve lately been producing a high-pitched squeaking sound, there could be two possible reasons for it:

  1. The brake drums are either rusted; or
  2. The mechanical parts in the brake drums have lost lubrication

In case if your brake drums are rusted, you’ll need to get them replaced with a set of new ones. This is obviously going to cost you money. However, if you’re lucky, and your brake drums are not rusted, then lubricating the contact points—especially, between the shoes and the backing plate—should help you get rid of the squealing sound. 

A bonus squeal!

There is another type of squealing sound that comes from brakes, although this one is temporary in nature.

Have you ever noticed that after an overnight rain, when you take your car out on the road, it produces a squeaking sound every time you hit the brake pedal?

That happens because of the rust that forms on the surface of the rotor of your car due to rain. This rust can be observed in the form of a thin layer.

As you drive, the thin layer of rust withers away and the squealing sound gradually stops.

This brings us to the end of our post; we hope you found the read informative and helpful.

The author of this article is an active member of the blogging team at LV Auto Services and likes to write about everything auto repair. Their company provides certified auto services in Las Vegas. They specialize in all leading car makes and models and their repairs come with 100% workmanship warranty.