If you think about what’s happening it really is surprising that brakes don’t make more noise than they do. The cars most of us drive have power brake systems so a light touch on the brake pedal brings a tremendous amount of braking force to stop your surprisingly heavy vehicle. Why are my brakes squeaking? Because they are working much harder than you think! Now that we have an appreciation for how much your brakes are doing, we can talk about some of the causes of noise.
Why Are My Brakes Squeaking?
- Your pads are worn out
- Your caliper or pads are frozen
- You have bad pads or shoes
- Your rotors have a problem
The most common cause for squeaky brakes is simply worn pads. Most brake pads have a tab on one or more of the pads. This metal tab is designed to rub on the metal rotor when the pad material gets very thin. The goal of this tab is to alert you it’s time to change your brake pads before you get into a dangerous situation. Besides this tab rubbing and causing squeaking, your worn-out pad could be worn unevenly, be down to a backing layer, or have worn all the way through the slots or bevels built into the pad to reduce noise.
Another reason you could have squeaking brakes is due to a frozen component. When you press your brake pedal the piston(s) in your calipers move causing the brake pads to slide toward the brake rotor. If something gets stuck it can cause one or both pads to engage at a funny angle or one pad to not engage at all. This uneven pressure will cause noise that sounds like ringing or squeaking.
Brake pads and shoes are designed to help keep things quiet. Outdated or inexpensive braking components may lack the technology to keep things quiet. This includes things like the slots and bevels mentioned early but also involves shims, backing plates, and the very material the pad or shoe is made from. Cheap pads are often noisy and dusty so we recommend purchasing something from the middle of the range to keep things quiet.
The last answer to “why are my brakes squeaking?” is a problem with your rotor. The brake rotor spins with your tire and over time it can get warped or even cracked and will develop a rust ring anywhere your brake pad isn’t constantly rubbing and keeping it clean. This rust ring can rub on the edge of your brake pad causing noise or a warped rotor can cause an intermittent ring especially when you’re driving slowly.
If you’ve got squeaky brakes it’s a great time to visit your mechanic. If your pads are simply low getting your pads replaced can often save you the extra cost of replacing damaged rotors too. If you’ve got other problems like a frozen caliper or bad rotor it’s best to get that replaced as soon as possible to ensure your car brakes as you expect it to keeping you and other drivers safe.