Should You Always Replace Squealing Brake Pads?

Posted on: 13 April 2022

Are your brakes making noise whenever you step on the pedal to slow down? Brake noises come in a few different varieties, but squealing is the most common. In many cases, squeaks or squeals from your brakes are an early warning sign that it's time to plan for a brake pad replacement. Still, you may not always need to buy new brakes because your current ones are making some noise.

Understanding why your brakes squeal, what you should do about it, and how to quiet them down will help you avoid costly problems and poor brake performance. This article will discuss a few reasons why you might be hearing some strange sounds from your brakes and when you should consider replacing them.

Why Do Brakes Squeal?

If you're hearing squealing from your brakes, it's nearly always because of metal-on-metal contact. Your brake discs rotate at the same speed as your tires, so contact between your vehicle's rotating and non-rotating brake parts will create a loud, unpleasant squealing noise. You'll usually hear this sound when you step on the brake pedal, although this won't always be the case.

Surprisingly, your brakes are working as intended when they begin to squeal with age. Brake pad manufacturers install small metal wear tabs into the friction material. As the pads wear down, the tabs become exposed and contact the rotors. This contact produces a squealing sound and warns you that your brake pads may only have a few thousand miles of life remaining.

However, any metal-on-metal contact point will usually produce a similar noise. Your brake pads have several areas where they can contact parts of the caliper carrier bracket or caliper, potentially creating squealing sounds. Certain brake pad materials may also be more prone to noisy operation, and you can even develop a squeak due to dirt, rust, or other trapped particles.

What Should You Do If Your Brakes Are Squealing?

If you notice your brakes squealing, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How recently have you changed your brakes?
  • Is one wheel squealing more than the others?
  • Are you using ceramic or metallic brake pads?
  • Did it recently rain, or have you left your car sitting for an extended period?

You shouldn't worry too much about an occasional squeak or squeal on new brake pads, especially if you're using ceramic or metallic pads. These pads can make more noise than organic pads, although they can offer better performance and other advantages. Likewise, your brakes may squeal in the morning or after heavy rain.

On the other hand, don't ignore squealing if you know your pads are more than a few years old since you may be hearing the wear indicators. 

For more information on brake repair, contact a company like Greg's Japanese Auto Parts and Service.