One of the most frustrating things about replacing your old, squealing brakes is having your new brakes make the same squealing or squeaking noise. Most car owners only replace their brakes when they start to make noise, so once the newly replaced brakes begin to make a squeaking noise, many return back to the dealership to have them looked at. Today, we will look at why your new brakes are squeaking and what you can do to fix them.
The Basics Of Disc Brakes
Disc brakes are the most common brake system on all new cars. Many older vehicles were equipped with rear drum brakes and brake shoes, but even these vehicles had disc brakes in the front. Disc brakes are the most efficient car brake system as they allow for easy maintenance and better heat dissipation.
Disc brakes consist of the rotor, caliper, and brake pads. The rotor is mounted to the hub and rotates with the wheel between the brake pads and caliper. The caliper mounts onto the steering knuckle and contains a hydraulically powered piston that squeezes the brake pads onto the rotor, slowing your vehicle down.
Your brake pads and brake rotors are one of the most often replaced auto parts as they are both designed to wear down as your brake system is used. Many brake pads are equipped with “wear indicators,” which are metal prongs that will scrape the rotor once the brake pad has worn down to the point of needing to be replaced. This causes the infamous squealing brake sound that everyone is so familiar with. There is nothing technically wrong with the brake system; the brake pads simply need to be replaced.
Once your brake pads and rotors are replaced, your brakes should be smooth and quiet. If your new brakes are squeaking, we will help you diagnose what the issue might be and guide you on how to get them repaired.
Reasons For Your Brakes Squeaking After Installing New Brake Pads
While it may be a little frustrating to have your new brakes squeak right after having them replaced, there is a perfectly good explanation as to why they are squeaking. Let’s take a look at five reasons your brakes are squeaking after installing new brake pads.
— Weather / Moisture
The most common reason new brakes squeak or squeal is moisture on the brake pad or rotor surface. Rainy weather and moisture in the air can cause a thin layer of rust to form on the rotor surface. As you operate your brakes, the rust breaks off into tiny particles, which can become embedded in your brake pads. These particles can cause a few minutes of brake squeal until they smooth themselves out. You may notice rusty rotors after a rainstorm if you haven’t driven your vehicle in a while.
— Excessive Brake Dust
Another reason you may experience brake noise after replacing your brakes is due to excessive brake dust. You may get squeaky brakes if you have switched to a different brake pad material that produces more brake dust than your OEM brake pads. This is a very common issue when people switch to a more aggressive brake pad. The pad stops better but creates more brake dust which can accumulate on your rotor and brake pad surface, creating more brake noise.
— Smooth Or Glazed Rotors
Over the life of your rotors, which is about 30,000-70,000 miles in most cases, your brake pads will wear a groove into the rotors. Once you change brake pads and get a different surface area onto your brake rotors, you might develop a brake squeal. If your rotors are not extremely worn down, you may be able to get them resurfaced to remove the imperfections and get a nice smooth mating surface. However, if your rotors are worn down too thin, you will have to have them replaced.
— Stuck Caliper Pin
A stuck caliper pin can also create various brake noises, including a squeaking sound. The caliper pin, also known as guide pins, helps guide the brake rotors onto the caliper. While most professional brake shops replace and lubricate the caliper pin, many DIY car owners skip this step. Brake caliper guide pins must be properly lubricated to function correctly. When these pins become worn out or dry, they can become stuck, causing a squeak and other brake noises.
— Improper Lubrication
A simple fix for stopping new brakes from squealing is to lubricate all contact points. It is common practice to lubricate the backing plate of the brake pad, the brake pad mounting tabs, pad mounts, and caliper guide pins. This should be done when installing new brakes, but if it was not done, proper lubrication could solve your squeaking brake issue. Ensure that you use a high-quality brake lube when lubricating new or old brake components.
How To Fix Squeaky Brakes
Fixing squeaky brakes will start with diagnosing what is causing the brakes to squeak in the first place. If your brakes are squeaking due to a thin layer of rust buildup, they should clear up after a few hard stops. For those experiencing brake noise from excessive brake dust, the only repair you can do is to change your brake pads out for a different compound that yields less brake dust. This may require you to go back to an OEM-style brake pad if you’re currently using aftermarket brake pads. For brake rotor issues, you will need to consult with a professional brake mechanic to have them inspect your rotors. They will look for any signs of damage, measure the thickness, and check for the overall health of your rotors. Some rotors may be able to be “turned” or resurfaced to get them smooth again, whereas older rotors may need to be replaced with new rotors. Lastly, if you believe your brakes simply need to be lubricated, you can have them greased to see if this resolves your issue. When in doubt, rely on a trusted auto repair mechanic who specializes in brake systems to inspect your brakes.
How Much Will Squealing Brakes Cost You?
Fixing squealing new brakes can range in cost depending on the cause. Common causes such as rust buildup or moisture on your brake pads only require a quick drive to shake off the rust. For more serious issues such as rotor damage, a stuck caliper pin, or improperly lubricated brakes, you can expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars for your brake service. To get an accurate quote on fixing a squealing noise coming from your brakes, take your vehicle to your local dealership or trusted mechanic for a thorough multi-point inspection.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know exactly why new brakes can start to squeak, you should feel more confident in diagnosing why your brakes may squeak after a brake job. Creating a brake maintenance routine can prevent noisy brakes, grinding noises, and any other headaches altogether. Ask your local dealership or trusted repair shop about which brake pads are best for your vehicle to keep brake dust at a minimum and prevent brake squealing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for new brakes to break in?
The process of breaking in new brake pads is called “bedding-in.” The bed-in process remains the same for most compounds, but the amount of time may differ from various brake pads. Ceramic pads might have a different bed-in time than metallic pads, so be sure to check with your brake pad manufacturer for the proper procedure. Bedding-in brakes refers to the gradual buildup of heat over a few hundred miles to lay down an even layer of transfer film from the brake pads to the rotor they will be paired with. This ensures the best level of performance from your brake system.
How do you stop squeaking brakes from sounding like they’re grinding?
When it comes to brakes, there will be a big difference between a squealing sound and a grinding sound. A squealing sound can be something as simple as a thin layer of rust buildup, whereas a grinding sound usually means something serious is wrong. In some cases, a grinding sound can come from the brake pad wear indicators starting to hit the rotor. This means you need to change your brake pads immediately. If your brakes are new and sound like they are grinding, there is a bigger problem: a stuck caliper piston or a seized caliper pin. If your brakes are making a grinding noise, have them inspected as quickly as possible by a brake expert.
What is the best way to stop new brakes from squeaking?
The best way to prevent new brakes from squeaking is to ensure that your rotors and other brake parts are in good working order. If your brake pads display any of the symptoms we discussed above, we highly recommend having your brakes serviced by your local dealership or trusted automotive repair shop.
How long do new brakes last?
New brake pads will last an average of 25,000-65,000 miles, depending on the type of brake pads and rotors that are installed. Daily driving habits also play a significant factor in the lifespan of your brake components. Cheaper brake components are going to have a shorter life span than those that are built to last. You will usually pay more for longer-lasting components, but you will get a better-performing product in most cases. Talk with your local dealership’s service advisor about how long your new brake components will last so you can determine when you need your next pad replacement. Most shops conduct complimentary multi-point inspections of your vehicle during routine maintenance services, such as an oil change, to inform you of any issues that could affect the drivability of your car as well as your safety.