Why Do Brakes Squeal?

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If your brakes sound like someone dragging their fingernails across a chalk every time you use them, it's time to have them inspected and repaired. A squealing sound coming from the brakes is not only annoying, it’s downright dangerous, especially if the squealing continues after the car warms up.

In most cases, a squealing sound can be traced back to worn out brake pads or if the car uses a drum brake system, the brake shoes. While deteriorating brake pads are the usual cause of squealing, there can be other causes.

How brakes work

Car brakes come in two different types, disc and drum brakes. A disc brake has a rotor, which is attached to the hub of the wheel, and calipers that hold the brake pads. When the brake pedal is pushed the force is transmitted hydraulically through the brake line, which then forces the brake pads to squeeze the rotor, slowing or bringing the vehicle to a stop. Drum brakes, which are more common on older vehicles, work on the same principle. A drum is attached to the wheel and inside of it are pads or brake shoes, when the brake pedal is pushed the brake shoes push against the drum bringing the car to a stop.

What Causes Brakes to Squeal?

The most common reason disc brakes squeal is because the brake pads are worn out. Disc brake pads have a piece of metal built into them, which is called a wear indicator. As the brake pad material wears away the wear indicator starts making contact with the rotor, which produces a squealing sound. When you hear the sound it's time to have your brake pads checked and most likely replaced.

If the brake pads are not replaced they will eventually wear through completely, and the backing plate will start wearing grooves into the rotor. At this point the squealing noise will be replaced by a grinding noise, and the repair bill will go up substantially.

When the brake pads are replaced the rotors need to be resurfaced. If they are not resurfaced or the job is done incorrectly, there is a good chance the squealing will get even worse.

When it comes to drum brakes the most common cause of squealing is poor contact between the shoes and the drum or brake shoes that have worn out. Regardless of which one is causing the problem the brakes should be inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

Keep in Mind

  • Car brakes will often squeal when they are hot or under pressure. Mountain driving can often lead to squealing brakes.
  • High-performance carbon-metallic brake pads are prone to squealing.
  • All brakes will squeal from time to time. The time for concern is when it becomes a consistent squealing.

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Rigoberto

9 years of experience
706 reviews
Rigoberto
9 years of experience
Chevrolet Equinox - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Niles, Illinois
Rigo was great! He got there early, finished the job early, left everything clean. He changed my rear pads and rotors. The original quoted time was 90 minutes, he was done in about 60. He knows what he is doing and I am recommending him to all my friends and coworkers.
Mercedes-Benz C250 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Chicago, Illinois
Rigo is a maverick hands down. Don’t take your car for work elsewhere. Especially great at Mercedes—this guy knows his profession! I will be using him for everything related to my car going forward.

Arturo

25 years of experience
35 reviews
Arturo
25 years of experience
Kia Forte - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Diego, California
ARTURO is great! very professional , fast, replaced my front brake pads and oil an filter change. everything now works and works well. Brakes have much improved stopping power and engine is smooth and quiet.Arturo is also kind and thoughtful. "Your mechanic" is very fortunate to have Arturo Lopez represent your company. I enthusiastically recommend him and "Your mechanic> as a fine operation Best regards to the Team Peter Marto
Nissan Maxima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - San Diego, California
Arturo was prompt and completed my brake repair, including new rotors in a very efficient manner. I am very pleased with the quality of the work and the parts and will definitely look to have him service our other car in the near future.

Scott

32 years of experience
345 reviews
Scott
32 years of experience
Lexus IS250 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Denver, Colorado
Always on time, speedy, professional, and pleasant to interact with. The work is always consistent and we'll done. I can't reccomend Scott highly enough!

Michael

10 years of experience
15 reviews
Michael
10 years of experience
Nissan Sentra - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Conyers, Georgia
He was promptly on time and got the job done efficiently in a timely manner. I really appreciate the rapid respone on getting the job done! I would most definitely use this service again.

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