Why Are My Brakes Squeaking?

Your brakes are one of the, if not the, most important systems in your vehicle for safety. However, many look past visible or audible signs of brake wear. It can be easy to push off brake service as it can seem not urgent or too expensive. While some issues like grinding, pulsating, or a spongy pedal are impossible to ignore, a problem like squeaking seems more of a nuisance than a safety hazard. However, if your brakes squeak, you may not want to put off getting them looked at.

What’s Causing My Brakes to Squeak?

There are a few reasons why your brakes could be emitting a high-pitched squeal, including:

Worn Out Brake Pads

Maybe the most obvious of the issues, worn brake pads will have lost much of the material responsible for cleanly creating friction. This can mean that the pads are pushing down on the rotors with the indicator located at the bottom of the friction material. The indicator is designed to produce a high-pitched noise when braking to warn the driver of the brake’s condition. This means that most of the pad’s material has been used up and it is time to replace them. 

4 worn out brake pads
Troy Sankey, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dust on Debris on Rotors

The material being shaved from brake pads needs to go somewhere, and this brake dust often ends up on the rotors. When enough builds up between the pads and rotors, it can cause a squealing noise as the debris is rubbed against the spinning rotor.

Brake dust isn’t the only culprit of this, as rust and road dirt/debris can also cause similar issues. Luckily, often this can be remedied with some brake cleaner and a shop towel. 

Dirty brake rotor
Tiia Monto, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Faulty Brake Pad Clips

Metal clips push down on the brake pad and keep it mounted properly within the caliper. When these clips are installed incorrectly or extremely worn down from use, they can begin to cause a squeaking noise to come from the pad. 

The main cause of this is not changing the clips with the pads. Pad clips are only designed to last as long as the pads themselves, and should be swapped at the same time to avoid failing hardware. Brake pad replacements will come with new clips to install, so anyone attempting a brake DIY should ensure their clips are replaced and installed properly. 

Loose Hardware

Over time your brake hardware is exposed to harsh vibrations from rough road conditions and consistent driving. This can cause the hardware to become jarred loose or knocked out of place. In the right circumstances, this may cause a high-pitched vibration or rubbing to be emitted. 

Why Do My Brakes Need Replacing?

While many components in our vehicles can run for many years without issue, brakes are one of those that will need replacement more often. What gives?

All car brakes operate by using friction to force the wheels to stop spinning and slow down the vehicle. The most common way of producing this friction comes through the use of brake rotors and pads, better known as disk brakes. 

The rotors are the large metallic disks located behind the spokes of the wheel. When pressing on the brake pedal, the system uses hydraulic pressure to push the abrasive pads against the rotors and create enough friction to slow down and stop the vehicle. 

Because brakes have the responsibility of creating friction over and over whenever you stop the cars, you can imagine that it would start to eat away at the friction materials. This is exactly what happens, as the contact between the pads and rotors will cause both components to slowly lose material and effectiveness. 

However, pads and rotors are not the only parts of the brake system susceptible to failure. The calipers that hold the pads, the brake lines themselves, or any of the accompanying seals, clips, and hardware can all fail as a result of normal usage over time. 

Brake Service in Tucson

If your vehicle needs a brake inspection or replacement, look no further than Micro Import Service in Tucson, Arizona. Our expert import technicians will ensure your brakes are in the proper condition and that your vehicle is safe to drive!

Call or schedule online with us today!