Rear Brake Repair: How to Prevent a Squeaking Noise at Low Speed Stops

rear brake
  • 2-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 65-100
What You'll Need
Allen wrench
Crescent wrench
Socket wrench
Jack stands
New brake pads
Brake fluid
Drip pan
Safety goggles

Rear brake repair is an inevitable part of vehicle ownership. The same forces of heat and friction that allow you to safely stop your vehicle will also eventually cause your brake pads to fail. As the pads are worn down, rough indicator ridges begin to emerge. These indicators grind sharply against the rotor when the brake is applied, creating an unpleasant squealing noise. Squeaky brakes indicate that it's time to replace the pads. If the pads aren't replaced quickly, the indicators can gouge the rotor and damage it as well. However, there are other possible reasons for the noise. If dirt and dust accumulate in the drums, it can cause the brakes to squeal. Before you go to the trouble of replacing your brake pads, run the vehicle through a car wash. Clean the wheels with high pressure hot water and solvent. See if the brakes continue to squeal after they have dried out. If they continue squealing, the automatic brake adjuster may be mis-calibrated. Take the vehicle to a brake shop or check it yourself. New brake pads will squeal for a few miles until the pads are broken in. In this case you can ignore the noise until it goes away. Besides worn pads, you may be suffering form distorted shoes and springs, a bent rear backing plate, or saturated linings. Any of these problems will require you to disassemble the rear brake and replace the damaged components.

Step 1 - Jack Vehicle

Loosen the rear wheel lug nuts while the vehicle is on the ground, and then raise the rear end with the jacks. Place the jack stand under the frame and lower the vehicle onto it, then remove the jacks. You can now remove the lugs nuts and tires from the rear wheels.

Step 2 - Open Caliper

Remove the caliper bolts with the Allen wrench. Pull the caliper from the rotor and inspect it for scratches or gouges.

Step 3 - Open Brake Fluid Valves

Place the drip tray and open the bleed valve for brake fluid.

Step 4 - Clamp Piston

Use a screwdriver to remove the pins holding the brake pad to the caliper. Push the piston back against the caliper wall and clamp it into place. Brake fluid will likely be forced from the system at this point so avoid the spray. Grease the surface of the caliper where the brake pad will be mounted.

Step 5 - Mount Brake Pads

Place the brake pads onto the caliper facing each other. Place the caliper around the rotor and bolt it into place. Close the brake bleeder valve.

Step 6 - Lower Vehicle

Replace the tires and use the jack to lower the vehicle from the jack stands. Tighten the lug nuts on the ground. Open the brake fluid reservoir and replace what was lost. Pump the brake pedal to circulate the fluid. Take the vehicle for a test drive and you will notice a dramatic reduction in stopping distance.