Brakes Squeaking (10 Common Causes)

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Squeaking brakes is as unpleasant as nails to a blackboard; it is ear piercing and annoying.

Brake squeaking can be caused by worn-out brake pads and rotors, warped rotors, contaminated brake pads and rotors, inferior quality brake pads, rusty rotors, lack of brake hardware, rusty hub surface, nonlubricated brake caliper parts, rusty guise pins, rusty or bent dust shield.

Let’s go through the ten common causes of car brakes squeaking.

disc brake pads and rotors

10 Common Causes Of Brakes Squeaking

1. Worn Out Brake Pads

The brake pad is made of fibers and materials designed to wear down faster than brake rotors.

Due to it wearing down, it will later reach the wear indicators, the tiny little metal bracket designed to press on the rotor and make a squeaking sound to indicate the pads are almost totally worn out.

Some brake pads don’t have wear indicators, so they will wear down until they reach the metal backing plate, and this is loud squeaking because now it is metal on metal.

2. Worn Out Brake Rotors

Brake rotors, or disc as they are also called, that are worn down beyond the minimum manufacturing thickness can start developing squeaking noises, especially if the face of the rotor is completely worn down and start wearing it down into the cooling vanes.

When the rotor wears down, it will develop a ridge where the brake pad isn’t making contact.

If this ridge starts to rust, it will expand into the brake pad’s path and cause brake noise.

3. Warped Brake Rotors

Warped brake rotors are typical, especially on non-ventilated rotors like the ones you will find on most vehicles on the rear axle.

The rotor gets warped when the rotors get too hot over a long period or when the brakes are hot and instantly cooled down by water. 

Remember that this will be still-standing water quantities or being hosed down by a carwash or pressure cleaner.

Once the brake rotor is warped, it intermittently presses against the brake pad causing squeaks or brake noise.

4. Inferior Quality Brake Pads

The cheaper the brake pads, the more shortcuts the manufacturers have to take to make them budget-friendly.

The most common way of saving money for them is not to have very high-quality control measures on the materials used in the brake pad.

This will result in hard, as hard as metal, parts inside the brake pad material and cause squeaking when applying the brakes.

5. Rusty Brake Rotors

Rusty brake rotors are typical in areas where it rains a lot, the roads are salted in the winter, or have high humidity.

Light surface rust won’t cause any sounds or squeaking. 

However, suppose you parked your car for a few months outside. 

In that case, it might be so badly rusted that it will make a grinding sound and develop squeaking as the rust breaks and falls off, causing damage to the rotor.

6. Lack Of Brake Hardware

Some cars with disc brakes have it, and some don’t, but if your vehicle was designed to use brake hardware and does’nt have any installed or worn out, this can cause brake noise or squeaking.

Brake hardware on disc brakes is designed so the pad can easily slide to and from the rotor, and without it, the pad will ride against the brake pad housing, which is corse and cause brake noise.

On a drum brake, the brake hardware is a set of springs that will pull the pads away from the drum; if the springs are worn out or not there, the pads will continually rub against the drum and cause the brakes to squeak.

7. Rusty Hub Surface

Brake rotors rest against the wheel hub, and if the wheel hub surface is rusty, this will result in the rotor not sitting flush.

With the rotor not sitting flush, it will osilate like a warped rotor and constantly touch the brake pad, which results in the brakes squeaking.

8. Nonlubricated Brake Caliper Parts

Coming back to the disc brakes that have brake hardware and those that haven’t, the ones that do have brake hardware will need a tiny bit of ant-seize on the point of contact between the brake pad and the brake hardware.

On the brakes that don’t have brake hardware, the anti-sieze should apply it between the brake pad and the brake pad housing where there is contact.

On drum brakes, there are small contact points on the back housing where the pads rub against, and anti-sieze should also be applied on these contact points.

9. Rusty Brake Guidepins

The guidepins help disc brakes sqeeze the brake pads evenly by guiding the brake pad housing to and from the rotor.

Suppose one of these guidepins or both are rusted. In that case, the caliper won’t be able to reset the pad away from the rotor resulting in the pads constantly rubbing against the rotor resulting in squeaking brakes.

10. Damaged Dust Shield

The job of the dust shield is to stop the brake dust covering the suspension components and prevent any debris or contaminents from getting into the brake system.

Over time, the dust shield will start rusting or get damaged and can start pushing against the rotor, causing a squeaking sound from the brakes.

drum brake assembly

Final Thoughts On Brakes Squeaking

It is hard to fathom how dreadful the sound of squeaking brakes is until you hear it yourself, and it can be such a little problem like the lack of brake hardware that can cause it.

Hopefully, you found the article helpful in identifying why your car’s brakes are squeaking.


Is it OK to drive with squeaky brakes?

Yes, but not for an extended period. 
When the brakes start squeaking, it usually indicates something that needs to be replaced or worked on.

Can WD 40 stop the brake from squeaking?

No, it is not advised to spray anything on the surface of the brake rotor or pads.
Sparing any oil substances on the face of the brake rotor or pad can contaminate it and cause a significant brake performance decrease. 
The whole brake system relies on friction to stop the vehicle, so applying a lubricant does more harm than good.

How do I fix squeaky brakes?

1. You will first need to find the cause of the squeak. 
This can be worn-out brakes, worn-out rotors, warped rotors, inferior quality brake pads, rusty brake rotors, lack of brake hardware if needed, rusty hub surface, nonlubricated brake calipers parts, rusty guide pins, or damaged dust shield.
2. Once you find the cause, you must replace said part or lubricate it.
Parts that are commonly replaced are the brake pads, brake hardware, rotors, and dust shield. 
While the hub surface, the brake caliper parts, and the guise pins are usually just cleaned and well lubricated.

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