Common Reasons Brake Pedals Squeak and Easy Fixes

If you drive frequently, you know how important it is for your car to be as silent as possible. After all, various squeaks and rattles can be annoying at best and upsetting at worst, ruining your driving experience.

Unfortunately, no matter how well the car is made, certain squeaks are unavoidable over time. The most common culprit is the brake — it is in constant use and experiences a high degree of wear and tear. So when it starts squeaking, it would be good to identify the cause and find a solution as soon as possible. And that’s exactly what the following list will help you do.

1. Dry Brake Pedal Joints

Every car has a wire connecting the brake pedal to the pedal box and simultaneously pushing the hydraulic fluid through the master cylinder towards secondary cylinders. As you press your brake pedal regularly, the area between the wire and the brake’s pivot point dries out. Eventually, that might lead to those unpleasant squeaks you’ve been hearing.

Of course, that specific joint doesn’t have to be the only spot to dry out and cause squeaks. Other parts of the brake may lack lubrication too, so it’s essential to examine the whole system closely.

Once you’ve identified the problematic joint, grab a white lithium grease spray and lubricate it. That should stop the squeaking, and it’s something that you can definitely do on your own.

2. Worn Brake Pads

Brake pads play quite an important role in your car’s braking system. Without them, your car wouldn’t be able to stop at the right moment. Thus, it’s vital to ensure they are always in good condition, despite all the wear and tear they experience.

You’ll find brake pads between the brake rotor and the brake calipers. When you press on the pedal, they come in contact with the rotor’s metallic disc, causing friction. Ultimately, this friction is what causes your car to come to a halt.

But naturally, all this friction will cause the brake pads to wear out over time. And once most of the pad material is gone, only the metal plates will remain. These metal plates will then scrape against the rotor, causing the squealing noise every time you brake.

If you suspect your brake pads might be worn out, make sure to get them replaced as soon as possible. After all, driving with worn brake pads can be dangerous — your brake distance will become longer, and you’ll need more time to stop.

To check the condition of your brake pads, simply take a flashlight and inspect your wheels. In most cases, you’ll be able to see them straight away by simply examining the rim of the rotor. But if that doesn’t help, you should remove the wheel and give it a closer look.

And finally, you might be able to replace your brake pads yourself — it’s not too difficult as long as you have some basic knowledge. But if you’re not sure you can do it properly, any car mechanic should be able to do it for you.

3. Rusted Brake Rotors

As you can see, brake rotors are a vital part of the car’s braking system and, as such, should be kept in good condition. They are located inside the wheel and are typically visible from the outside. That, of course, means they are also somewhat exposed to the elements.

So, if your car is exposed to the rain for some time, you might notice some rust on your rotors. They are usually made of cast iron, after all, and oxidize fairly easily. This rust might also cause squeaking when you hit the brakes, but in most cases, it’s nothing to worry about. It will come off on its own after a few hard stops, and the squeaking will be gone too.

Even if the rust doesn’t entirely come off — for instance, on the top portion of the rotors — that’s not a cause for concern. As long as there’s very little on the surface that comes in contact with the pads, your brakes will perform well, and there will be no squeaking. But if even those areas are rusted, and hard braking doesn’t help, you’ll need to take extra measures.

One of them includes removing the rust on your own. For that, you’ll need to open the wheel and use a brake cleaner on the rotor. You could use vinegar instead, though the results might not be quite as satisfying. Once you’re done, rinse the rotor, dry it, and reassemble the wheel.

If the rusting is particularly deep, it might be better to take your car to a professional. They can determine whether rust removal is sufficient or if you might need a rotor replacement. Either way, your rotors are unlikely to end up in this condition unless you stop driving your car entirely.

4. Uneven Brake Rotors

Brake rotors suffer their own share of wear and tear due to friction caused by the brake pads. Over time, they might become uneven and start to squeak when you brake, much in the same way worn brake pads do. Once that happens, there’s no other solution but to get them resurfaced or replaced.

Rotor resurfacing means removing a thin layer of the rotor’s surface with a brake lathe. That’s something best left to professionals — it requires specific knowledge and tools, as well as understanding what fraction of the rotor can be safely removed. Ultimately, the end result of resurfacing is a smooth rotor with only a few irregularities.

There are times when rotor resurfacing is impossible or not recommended, though. If the rotor is already too thin, resurfacing might only make it unsafe for use. Also, warping and cracks are usually red flags indicating replacement is absolutely necessary.

The good news is that rotor replacements aren’t nearly as expensive as they used to be. These days, they might even be a more affordable and safer option than resurfacing. Plus, if you replace your rotor, it’s sure to last longer than a resurfaced one would.

5. Clogged Drum Brakes

Though most cars nowadays use disc brakes with a rotor on their front wheels, back wheels often have older and slightly different drum brakes. Due to their design, drum brakes are less effective than their disc counterparts, but they are cheaper to make and quite useful when parking a car. Ultimately, both types are still in wide use, and you’re likely to encounter them in your car.

And clogged or dirty drum brakes can be the reason you hear squeaking when you press down on your brake pedal. Unlike disc brakes, which are exposed, these brakes are placed in a drum just as their name implies. Because of that, they are prone to collecting dust, soot, and grime over time.

When enough dirt collects in the drum, the brakes’ functionality suffers, and they start squeaking. However, in this case, it’s quite easy to miss the true culprit of the noise. So, once you’re done checking everything else that could be causing it, don’t forget to inspect the rear wheels as well.

If you discover that your drum brakes are, in fact, to blame for the squeaking, you should give them a proper clean. Luckily, that’s fairly easy to do. Simply take off the wheel and remove the top cover from the brake. Then you’ll need a brake cleaner to get rid of the grime. Once you’re done cleaning, apply some grease, and close everything up again. Then, the squeaking should be entirely gone.

6. Dry Brake Pedal Spring

Just above your brake pedal, there is a spring that helps it return to its original position upon release. In order to work properly, this spring needs to be lubricated, but frequent use and changes in temperature often remove this protective layer. Then, whenever you press the pedal or release it, you will hear a squeaking sound.

So, the solution is pretty simple — you need to lubricate the spring. It might be a little difficult to locate as it is slightly hidden. But once you do, apply some white lithium grease spray on there. You’ll see that the squeaking will be completely gone in no time!

Say Goodbye to Squeaking Brakes Once and for All

Squeaky brakes can mean many things — sometimes, the sounds are simply annoying, but other times, they may indicate a serious problem. Whatever the case, you need to find the cause and deal with it as soon as the squeaking starts. That way, you’ll save yourself some headaches and ensure your car remains safe to drive.

And though it may seem like your brake pedals are to blame for all the squeaking, other parts of the braking system are often the true culprit. So, it’s important to do a thorough check, especially if you aren’t able to figure out the cause right away. Ultimately, if you don’t find it on your own, visit a car mechanic and let them take a look. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

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