Why Are My Brakes Making That Noise?

If you’re lucky, the squealing or squeaking sound your brakes make when you first drive your car in the morning, especially after rain or snow, is just surface rust being scraped off the rotors by the brake pads the first few times you press the brake pedal. It could also be caused by moisture and dirt that builds up on the rotors, which can happen when there is a lot of humidity. If the squealing stops after a few stops, there’s no need to worry.

If the noise happens most of the time or every time you use the brakes, or if you hear squeals while you’re driving, the problem is more serious and will cost more to fix.

If you hear a constant, high-pitched screech coming from your brakes while you’re driving, this is most likely an internal wear indicator notifying you that it’s time to replace your brake pads. When it is time to replace the pads, a small metal tab will make contact with the surface of the rotor, similar to how a needle would with a vinyl record. This will serve as a warning to the user. (Some wear indicators may operate in a different manner and become active only when you apply the brakes to your vehicle.)

Other squeals and squeaks, in order to be properly diagnosed, will call for a brake inspection, which may also call for cleaning, lubrication, or adjustment, and potentially even new parts. The majority of the time, squeaky brakes are the result of worn or loose parts.

When you apply the brakes, for instance, an unevenly worn rotor, also known as a “warped” rotor, will not allow the brake pads to rest flat on the rotor, which might result in vibrations that produce noise. In a similar vein, a brake pad that has worn unevenly will not push firmly on the rotor and will likely chirp. There is also the potential that the brake pads are not mounted securely or that the shims that are supposed to keep them in place have corroded or come loose over time.

The pads themselves are another consideration. Brake pads of lower quality and lower cost tend to make more noise than pads of higher quality and greater cost. This is a warning given by certain mechanics. In addition, noise might be caused by calipers that are either too loose or too stuck.

It is recommended to have a trained professional evaluate and make a diagnosis of your vehicle’s squeaky brakes because there are multiple factors that could be to blame and because brakes are an essential part of any vehicle’s safety system.

In most cases, the sound of grinding indicates that the brake pads have become worn down to the point where the backing plates on which they were placed are now being compressed against the rotors of the brakes. Because of this metal-on-metal contact, you’ll also need to replace the rotors, which means you probably ignored some early signs that your brakes were getting worn. 

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