Noisy Brakes: Why They Occur and What to Do About It

Published: 10/22/2010 by AutoShopit.com

Brakes that make noise

Brakes that make noise


The braking system in your car keeps you safe and any problem with it puts your life and your passengers at risk. A vehicle’s braking system is made up of the brake disc or rotors, brake pads, brake calipers, and brake boosters that work altogether to stop your vehicle when you want. When you feel that there is something wrong with your brakes or especially when the brake warning light flashes in your dashboard, immediately check your vehicle or have a professional look at it. There are brake problems that you can troubleshoot on your own and there are some that are complicated and need an auto mechanic’s expertise.

The most common sign of a brake problem is when it's producing noise.  The different sounds have different meanings and can be from different causes.  The common reasons for noisy or squeaking brakes are listed below.

  1. Accumulation of dust in the brake drums -  This usually happens when the brake shoes are worn out and dust builds up in the drum. You can solve this problem with a simple carwash to wash off the dirt and put back your brakes in its perfect condition.
  2. Overheating brakes - This usually happens when the brakes are still cold and usually produces a light squealing sound.
  3. Poor quality linings - You need linings that can withstand heat build up after repetitive stops. This produces inefficient braking and requires more effort from the driver to put the vehicle in stop. The driver will also need longer distance for the vehicle to halt their car and will also feel that the brake pedal is not as firm as it should.
  4. Hard linings - The noisy braking due to hard linings is usually experienced by trucks, buses, and taxi drivers. The harder linings do not break down as easily as the regular linings in typical cars and this causes a squawking noise when stopping.
  5. Worn out brake pads - Brake pads are made from different materials, ceramic, metallic, and other material. High-pitched squeals on your brakes usually means your brake pads are already worn out and needs replacing. Most brake pads are made with a sensor or a metal finger. When the brake pads are worn, this sensor is now in contact with the brake disc creating high-pitched squealing. The sound created can be compared to running fingers on a chalk board.
  6. Missing hardware and loose connections  - When you inspect the brakes, check if all hardware are in place. Brake components should always be snug and tight fitting and they should not be movable with bare hands. It’s a good option to lubricate the brake parts for a smoother operation and get rid of that irritating squeal.
  7. Low brake fluid level - If brake fluid is below its normal level, braking is not effective even when you press the pedal down to the floor. Fill the brake fluid to the required level. See also if there is water in the brake fluid as it can also cause braking problems.
  8. Other Reasons - Weak or distorted brake shoes bent backing plate, malfunctioning retainer springs are also causes of noisy brakes.

If your brakes are squeaking, it's worth it to take them to your local auto mechanic shop to have them checked out.  It may be from dust or the weather but it's always better to be on the safe side and have them looked to make sure. 

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