Troubleshooting Squeaky Brakes

The sound of squeaky brakes can be very concerning. The sound of squeaking from your vehicle can be a sign that one of the vehicle's major safety systems is not operating properly and needs to be addressed quickly. However, just because the brakes are squeaking, it does not mean that there is something ominous going on with you car, it just means that the brakes may need some attention. Many times, you can address the following tasks yourself in the course of an afternoon. By looking into the issue as soon as it becomes evident that there may be a problem, you can save yourself costly repairs, and avoid a brake malfunction or failure.

Brake Dust

A common, and benign reason for brakes to squeak is that there is an excess of brake dust in and around the brakes on the car. In this case, you may notice that you hear the brakes squeaking when the brakes are applied when slowing down or coming to a stop. Brake pads are usually metallic, and as they wear, they produce a dust that can accumulate in and around your wheels, brake pads, and rotors. Usually a simple thorough washing in a car wash will address this issue. Take the vehicle to a do-it-yourself car wash and use the high power rinse to wash away accumulated dust.

Warning or "Squeak" Tabs

Squeak tabs are safety features that are built into many brake pads. The squeak tabs basically make your brakes squeal as you are cruising, and frequently the noise stops when the brakes are applied. The resulting sound may be alarming and concerning; this noise is designed to alert you to the fact that the brake pads are wearing down, and will likely need replacement in the near future. The squeak tabs engage once the brake pads wear down to a level where they will need to be replaced soon. While there may be a good amount of miles left on the pads, it is best to have them replaced as soon as it becomes evident that it is necessary.

Brake Pads

If the brake pads have worn past the warning tabs or if they just don't have them, metal on metal can cause a pretty horrendous noise, and this is a bad sign. if your brake pads have worn all the way down, and the metal of the pad is grinding on the metal of your rotor, this can do major damage to your brake system and needs to be addressed immediately. Replacing brake pads is an inexpensive maintenance job. Replacing your brake system is costly and can be avoided. If it has gotten to this point, it is likely that there is damage already done to your rotors, and they may need replacement. Additionally, it can damage other components of the brake system such as drums and shoes. These also are expensive parts to replace, and once it gets to that point, you need to take it to a professional.