Why Do Brakes Squeak?

Why Do Brakes Squeak?



It’s a bright and beautiful morning, you get into your car and as you are driving to work, you suddenly hear an odd noise as you get to the intersection. You think to yourself “I’m sure it was not my car that made that noise”. The car is not old and you’ve not had it for that long, but at the next intersection, you panic because you hear that noise again. “Are my brakes failing? Why are they squeaking so loudly? Do I need need new brakes?” Breathe. It might be nothing, squeaky brakes stop vehicles same as quiet ones. There are many factors that can contribute to that noise, but we always advise that you take it to a professional and have them check it out for you.

We’d like to make one thing clear, right up front: brakes sometimes make noise.

If you expect absolute silence, or expect your brakes to be totally mute every time; that’s not just possible.

So, what then makes brakes squeak? Brakes in modern cars are made up of a cast iron disc crammed between 2 brake pads and lined with friction material. Under the right conditions, the pads, the disc and the caliper can start to vibrate in the exact same way the strings on a violin vibrate when stroked by the bow. The pitch of the violin’s is controlled by the position of the violinist’s finger on the string, not by how fast or hard the bow is stroked. In the same way, most brakes squeak at a single distinct frequency. How hard you press down on the left pedal and the speed of the vehicle will only change the noise level, because the pitch is controlled by the mass and stiffness of the disc and pad.

Squeaky brakes can be caused by many things.

Brake pads are generally designed to start making noise when they are worn down to the last twenty five percent. This squealing or squeaking noise may be indicating that it’s time to have your brakes inspected and possibly replaced. However, brakes make noise for reasons other than worn out pads. Braking hard creates heat, which glazes brake pads and might cause a squeaky brake noise. Moisture can cause brake rotors (unfinished metal), to rust as rapidly as overnight. This can lead to a grinding noise, which will last until the rust on the surface is removed. Furthermore, long life brake pads are harder and can sometimes emit noise as part of their regular operation.

Common causes of squeaky brakes include:

  • Brake rotor rust
  • Hard braking
  • Long-life brake pads
  • Worn out pads

A good way to know if your brake trouble is caused by wear, is by keeping a track of your vehicle’s service intervals. A set of rear pads lasts twice as long as front brake pads. Although there are some other factors that can shorten the lifespan of the pad, the front brake pads normally lasts for about 30,000 miles and the rear pads, 60,000 miles. Other factors that can affect the lifespan of a brake pad include; stop and go driving, towing, and carrying heavy loads.



If your brake noise is caused by wear, then we advise you have it changed. You can easily estimate the life span of your brake pads by knowing how many miles it has been since your last brake service. You can also visually inspect your brake pads, when you get your tires rotated (as a rule, your car tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles). This will go a long way in prolonging the lifespan of your brake pad. But if surface rust or glazing is the cause of the noise, it can be easily solved by driving a short distance (1/10th or 2/10th of a mile) with your foot lightly on the brake pedal at a normal speed. A mechanic can inspect the brakes, if the squeaking noise persists, but if your car is installed with extended life brake pads, there is going to be a certain unavoidable noise.

How to determine if your brakes are worn or not:

  • Visual inspection
  • Professional inspection
  • Track service intervals
  • Rust removal
  • Stop-and-go vs. highway driving

Not to frighten you, but your brakes perform a very vital function in your car. It might seem like a huge expense to change your brakes, especially if you are paying for car insurance and still owe money on it. However, do not continue risking your life by not having your brakes checked out. Your car will not stop if your brakes fail, so stay on top of your maintenance and protect yourself. Making sure your car is running properly should be a top priority for you. Both you, your family’s and other road users’ safety depend on your brakes functioning properly.

So, whether you need a new set of brakes or just need them checked out, Fox River Tire and Auto offers a full range of brake pad replacement and repair services on all models of cars, SUVs and light trucks. Our staff has a combined auto industry experience of over 130 years and are all A.S.E. Certified Technicians.

If you live in Fox Valley or the surrounding area, Fox River will fix your brakes and save you money maintaining your vehicle, plus all our repair services are guaranteed. We have been around for over 50 years and have serviced more cars – and brakes – than anyone in the Fox Valley Area.  Come along with the brake coupon below to get a complete rear or front brake service at an excellent discount or just drop in for a free brake inspection. Also, unlike other national shops in town, Fox River is a locally owned business and working with us helps to improve our community.

Have any questions about your car? Call (630) 584-0655, we’d love to hear from you.

By | 2017-08-05T01:32:49+00:00 July 30th, 2016|Brakes, Car Maintenance, Service, Uncategorized, Vehicle Inspections|6 Comments


  1. Lillian Schaeffer December 6, 2016 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    I like your point that squeaky brakes can be caused by worn out pads. My car has been making screeching sounds when I slow down or stop, and I’m not sure what’s causing it. I’m worried that the pads might be worn out, so perhaps it would be a good idea to have a professional take a look.

    • Fox River Tire & Auto Repair December 19, 2016 at 2:50 pm - Reply

      Lillian, please stop by the shop and we can take a look at your brakes. We’ll check the brakes, pads, shoes and calipers to makes sure that everything looks OK. If there is anything that needs replacing, we’ll let show you and provide you with a free estimate. Thanks and we’ll see you soon. You can click here to make an appointment that is convenient to you.

  2. Caden Dahl March 7, 2017 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    I like how you mentioned that brake repairs are worth it because they’re an important safety measure in your car. My brakes have been making high-pitched noises, and I think it’s because they’re getting old and worn down. I’ve been procrastinating taking my car in for repair, but I think it would be wise to get those repairs taken care of right away so I can drive safely.

  3. Braden Bills March 9, 2017 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    My brakes have been squeaking lately, and I don’t know what it means. I didn’t know that it could possibly mean something dangerous! I’ll make sure that I take it in to a mechanic.

  4. Noel June 1, 2017 at 2:38 am - Reply

    I was told the same thing before. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Annika Larson June 23, 2017 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Lately, I have noticed that my brakes have been squeaking. I’m not sure exactly what the issue is. Like you mentioned, this may be indicating that it’s time to have my brakes inspected and possibly replaced. I’ll be sure to go have them checked out.

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