How to Get a Car's Brakes to Stop Squeaking

by Francis Walsh

When parts are not working their best, a car's first signal to you is usually noise. The noise you hear coming from under the hood may be attributed to bearings and belts that are worn and need to be replaced. When the noise you hear comes from the brakes, it may be a long squeak or squeal as you come to a stop. Discover what parts are creating the sounds quickly, because you should take immediate action to diagnose the problem. How to get a car's brakes to stop squeaking involves a visual inspection and a few simple steps to correct the reason for the noise. When squeaking to a stop has you thinking something is wrong with your brakes, take advantage of these steps to fix the problem of noisy brake rotors and pads.

Get a car's brake to stop squealing by diagnosing and correcting the damaged, worn brake pad or warped and scarred disc brake rotor. Place the vehicle on a flat surface without the parking brake engaged. Lift the wheel and tire assembly that makes the noise using a hydraulic floor jack and a jack stand to support the weight while you inspect and fix the problem. Place a wood block behind the rear wheel(s) for extra security while the vehicle is lifted.

Remove the wheel and tire that covers the disc brake assembly that is making the squeal. Visually inspect the rotors and pads for signs of wear and tear. Look for rotors that are scarred or worn in waves showing that a rotor might be warped. Look inside the caliper to see if there is brake pad left. Are the brake pads worn down so far that they are ineffective? Spray and wipe down the exposed rotor and brake caliper to remove and built up brake pad dust prior to separating the brake assembly.

Use an Allen wrench to separate the caliper from around the disc brake rotor. Two Allen head bolts are securing the caliper onto a mounting bracket from the backside of the caliper. You will have to reach around the caliper with the Allen head wrench to loosen and remove these two fasteners. Turn each bolt counter-clockwise to loosen before removing one bolt at a time. Clean the bolts with brake cleaner and then wipe down with WD-40 squirted into a rag. Lubricating and cleaning the brake assembly parts is one way to get rid of squealing from a perfect pair of brake pads and rotors.

Pull the caliper off of the rotor and remove the two brake pads inside the caliper. The pads have a small retainer clip that secures each pad into the caliper plunger. Pull the pad out of the plunger and the clip will come out with it. Retain the clip. Inspect each pad for hot spots or wear. Either condition will require you to replace the brake pads with new ones if you want to get a car's brake to stop squealing. Clean the inside of the brake caliper with brake cleaner and wipe with a rag with WD-40 on it.

Insert a new pair of brake pads using the retainer clips clipped onto the back of the pads and inserted into the caliper's plungers. It may be necessary to depress a caliper's plunger to insert and install a new pair of brake shoes and caliper over the width of the disc brake rotor. Use a C-clamp and an old brake shoe to depress the plunger.

Clean and inspect the rotor for wear and damage. A squeal can come from the small grooves that can be present on the faces of a disc brake rotor from brake pads that have worn down. A warped rotor is harder to define if the rotor shows that there is more contact with the brake pad on one side over the other, replacement is necessary. Tap the back of the disc brake rotor to remove it from the spindle.

Install a new or machined rotor onto the spindle and tap into place with a mallet. Slide the caliper and new brake pads over the rotor and position so that the two retaining bolts can be secured. The new brake pads and rotor can be cleaned again with brake cleaner before bleeding the brake line.

Pour some DOT3 brake fluid into a cup or jar. Push the end of a plastic tube over the bleeder fitting located on the caliper. Place the other end of the tube into the fluid in the cup. Have a helper sit in the driver's seat to depress the brake pedal when you ask him/her. Loosen the bleeder valve by turning counter-clockwise until it is loose, and have your helper depress the brake pedal completely. When the brake pedal is depressed brake fluid will be pushed into the cup through the tube. Tighten the bleeder fitting while the brake pedal is depressed. Have the helper release the brake pedal and depress the pedal as you loosen and tighten the bleeder valve each time. This pushes air out and increases the responsiveness of brakes that have a small amount of air in the lines.

Remove the cap of the master cylinder and fill the cylinder with brake fluid until full. Replace the cover then return the wheel and tire assembly onto the axle. Remove the jack stand using the floor jack and lower the vehicle onto the ground for a test. Your squeaky brakes will be fixed with this service.

Tip

  • check Take a damaged rotor to Autozone for the machining service. The technician can measure the width of the rotor and determine if it can be fixed by machining the damaged part. Bleeding brakes can eliminate squeaks caused by calipers being unable to depress the brake pads properly. A good brake line bleeding only happens when you bleed each brake assembly located on the ends of each axle, front and back.

Warning

  • close Brake lines can become damaged if the caliper is allowed to hang freely on the short rubber hose that the caliper is attached to. Damaged brakes can result in the loss of braking power and an inability to stop a moving vehicle. The danger is obvious.

Items you will need

About the Author

Francis Walsh has been working as a freelance writer since 2003. He has contributed to websites such as Shave, Autogeek and Torque & Chromeas, as well as provided content for private clients. Walsh has worked as a performance part-packer and classic car show promoter, now serving as crew chief for Nitrousfitz Racing.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera TS46 Nitrousfitz Racing