Squeaky brakes are not an uncommon issue for vehicles of all ages. Sometimes, squeaky breaks are just that—squeaky, and other times squeaky brakes can be a sign of something going bad on your car. Either way, driving with loud, squeaky brakes can be a nuisance to both you and other drivers on the road, and they can get interfere with your ability to safely focus and operate your vehicle.
You can do your own inspection first and attempt to fix your noisy brakes on your own. It’s possible that dirt and debris could be stuck in your brake pads causing them to make noise. However, if you don’t find anything and the problem persists, then you will want to take your car to a mechanic to make sure that you are not driving a vehicle that is unsafe.
Here’s how to fix your squeaky brakes on your own.
Using Brake Paste
There is a product available known as brake paste that is meant specifically for squeaky brakes. Sometimes, the noise caused by brakes is simply a lack of lubrication, which is where this dampening paste comes in.
The key to using a paste as opposed to any other type of lubricant is that this is a thicker product that acts as a cushion along the brake system. The substance is applied to the back of the brake pads between the caliper assembly and the brake pad.
When you apply the paste, you need to let it harden for several hours. When you do, the dried substance will create that cushion which also acts as a sound barrier. You should try to let the paste set over time. You will know when it is dry because it will darken in color when it is dry. You can expedite the process by sitting the car out in the sun or using a hair dryer, but time alone is the best way to use this paste to its best effect.
Checking for Loose Parts on Your Vehicle
The first thing you will need to do is to check for loose parts on your vehicle. There are a few ways that you can do this, as many times a piece has become loose and that is what is causing the squeaking noise.
Start with the brake housing, the brake pads, and other brake components such as the calipers. Try to move, wiggle and shake these parts. They should move with just the pressure of your hands. Take a look at all of the shims and clips that are holding these pieces together, if the components were moving on their own, then you will want to inspect and replace anything that is damaged or missing.
Count the number of shims and clips that look loose, damaged, or completely missing, and replace them. Once you have replaced the clips, try to move the components of the brake area again to check for movement. Repeat the process of replacing clips until the brake components no longer move with just your hands.
Examining the Brake Pads
If your vehicle uses disc brakes, then you will want to check the brake pads and check them out to determine if they are overly worn. Many times, these brake pads come outfitted with a wear indicator, which will make a noise if it gets worn past a certain point. This is built in to let you know it’s time to get your brakes replaced. Many times, this is the noise you are hearing when the brakes start to squeak, not an actual issue with the brakes themselves.
If you’ve had the brake pads replaced with aftermarket pads, they may not have been replaced properly. If the pad was set too high on the rotor, it could start to make a noise. If this looks like the problem, you can adjust your brake pads on your own. If the pads look rusted, worn down or as if certain parts have been worn away, then you will need to replace the brake pads entirely.
There are a few things to remember when it comes to replacing brake pads. Most experts suggest that you replace existing brake pads with the same material. However, if you have been experiencing consistent issues with the sounds of your brakes, then you may want to trade off for a different material. While it may not necessarily be the most effective brake pad, it can be a trade-off for getting rid of the noise.
Your car’s manual may actually have a recommendation on which types of brake pads will work the best. Here are the most common options:
- Organic Brake Pads- These brake pads are known for being quiet and are made without asbestos. There are benefits to organic pads but they may also not tolerate heat well and can fade faster than other brake pads.
- Metallic Brake Pads- As the name suggests, these pads are made of metal, which is designed to provide the most friction possible against the rotor. This is a popular option for stopping at high speeds without causing too much wear. This will also cause the rotor to wear faster. These brake pads are also known for making the most noise due to the metal-on-metal contact.
- Semi-Metallic Brake Pads- These brake pads have both metal particles and organic materials in them and providing a unique balance between the noisy metal pads and the more delicate organic pad. These semi-metallic pads have more braking abilities but don’t make too much noise.
In general, if you have been experiencing issues with your brakes squeaking, then you should look for new brake pads that have built-in lubricating materials meant specifically to reduce noise.
Looking the Brake Rotor or Drum
The brake rotor or drum of the brake system can actually cause unique noise when the brakes are in use. If there is damage or irregularities in the brake rotor, it can cause a foreign noise.
Examine the drum or brake rotor for surface smoothness. You can do this with a comparator gauge. If you don’t have one, then you can write on it with a ballpoint pen and piece of paper, to see how smooth or flat the rotor is. If you don’t get a smooth line when you write on top of the paper, the rotor may be too rough.
If grease pushes through and shows up on the paper, then you need to clean the brake drum. If the rotor is rough, you will need to have it resurfaced by a professional. It is a cheaper alternative to getting the rotor replaced entirely. If there are significant gauges, holes or signs of wear in the rotors or drums, or if these pieces look warped or distorted, you may need to replace the rotors entirely.
These are the most effective ways to get rid of the squeaking you may hear in your brakes. They can also help you make sure you are aware of any signs of more serious issues forming. Knowing this, you can get your vehicle back up-and-running the way it is supposed to.