Why are my brakes squeaking?

Tuesday 30th August 2022

what are anti lock brakes

Squeaking brakes can be a worry as your brakes are integral to the safety of your car and the sound can be a sign that something’s wrong. In this guide, we’ll explain the causes of squeaky brakes, when to worry and what to do if you’re experiencing squeaking brakes.

Car brakes squeaking?

When listening out for noises from your brakes, it’s likely that they will never be completely silent – you’ll always hear some level of noise from them. However, there are some noises that you should keep an ear out for – as it could indicate that there are problems with your brake pads.

Causes of squeaky brakes

One of the noises to watch out for is hearing a high-pitched squeak, or squeal, from your car’s brakes. This is not uncommon – and there are a number of reasons why your brakes could be squeaking. Some of the most common reasons include:

Worn-out brake pads

One of the main causes of squeaking brakes is worn-out brake pads. Each time you use your brakes, the friction it causes makes your brake pads wear thinner and thinner until eventually, your brakes have no cushioning and the metal scrapes together. This can cause a squeaking or screeching sound. When this happens, it’s a sign your brake pads have reached their wear limit and you should take your car to a garage to have new brake pads installed.

Brakes squeaking in a brand new car

If you’ve recently purchased a brand new car and your brakes start squeaking - don’t worry! It’s not a sign that your brakes need replacing already. Usually, brake pads have a smooth surface, but on a new car there may be existing metal fibres on the pad which causes squeaking. The squeaking should reduce over time, although to break in your brakes properly, the most common method of doing this is to increase speed to about 60mph and then to slowly and firmly apply the brakes until you reach about 10mph. This wears away the top uneven layer on your brake pads and will stop squeaking. Do ensure when breaking in your brakes that you’re doing so in a safe environment.

Brakes squeaking in winter weather

With winter weather on the way, it’s important to note that this could cause your brakes to squeak. If you notice your brakes squeaking more often when it’s coldest, this could just be due to the cold weather and will go away on it’s own when the weather starts to warm up again.

In wet weather, you may find moisture builds up around your brakes and causes a thin layer of rust on them. This isn’t usually anything to worry about as you use your brakes the rust will be worn away. It’s worth noting that the noise it makes will be more of a grating sound as opposed to a squeak.

However, if you do have any concerns about your brakes, it is worth bringing it in for a free brake check to put your mind at ease.

Stones, grit and debris

Depending on the surfaces you’re driving on sometimes loose debris can come free from the road and become lodged in your brake pad. Usually, stones, grit and debris won’t cause your brakes to squeak. However, if a particularly large piece of debris gets stuck in your brake pad it can sometimes cause squeaking. It isn’t usually anything to worry about, and usually, the embedded object will find its way out on its own.

Carrying heavy loads

If you’re carrying heavy loads often you might find you need to get your brake pads replaced more often. This is because your brakes will need to use more friction to stop your car fully. If you’re carrying heavy loads less frequently, sometimes it can cause your brakes to squeak, but it’s rarely something to worry about.

How to get brakes to stop squeaking

It’s difficult to determine how you can stop your brakes from squeaking when you are unsure of the problem. If your brake pads are worn or thinning, it’s likely you will need to replace them in order for the squeaking to stop. However, in other instances, you may not need to have your brakes replaced.

The best way of knowing for sure how to stop squeaky brakes is by booking yourself in for a free brake check at your local Formula One Autocentre. Here, our team of experts can help diagnose the problems with your brakes – if any – and whether they need to be replaced. Simply search for your nearest centre using your postcode.

Do your brakes need replacing?

In some cases, such as if your pads are worn or thinned, squeaky brakes may indicate that your brake pads need replacing. As well as squeaky brake pads, you may also experience pulling – if you feel the steering wheel pulling your vehicle in different directions; vibrations – typically from a vibrating brake pedal, which can indicate warped brake discs; or unusual brake movement – especially if the brake pad feels ‘mushy’, or goes to the floor before engaging in the brakes. Unsure if you need new brakes? Learn how to tell if you need new brakes from our informative guide.

Find out more about if your brakes are working effectively and what brake repair work you could require from our car brakes section. Simply locate your nearest Formula One Autocentre, or contact a member of our team for more information why your car brakes are squeaking.

 

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