Noisy Squeaky Brakes: Diagnosing and Fixing the Squeak When Brakes are Released

by parker
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Introduction

Driving in hilly areas can take a toll on your brakes, causing them to wear out faster than normal. If you’re experiencing a noisy squeak when your brakes are released, it’s important to diagnose and fix the issue before it leads to further damage. In this article, we’ll discuss the common causes of squeaky brakes and provide step-by-step instructions on how to diagnose and fix the problem.

Diagnosing the Problem

One car owner in Hawaii reported hearing brake noise when the brakes get warm, especially after going down a hill. Interestingly, the noise disappeared when the brake pedal was pressed. These symptoms indicate a potential issue with the brake pads or rotors. To confirm the diagnosis, a test drive up a hill and back down is necessary. During the test drive, listen for chirping or scraping sounds that are synchronized with the speed of the wheel. This indicates that the problem is related to the brakes, rather than the bearings.

Understanding Glazed Brake Pads

The noise described by the car owner is similar to the sound made by the low brake pad indicator. However, since the brake pads were recently replaced, it’s likely that something else is causing the noise. The noise can be compared to scraping a fork against a plate, which occurs when the brake pads become glazed. Glazed brake pads happen when the hard metal surface of the pad rubs against the rotor, resulting in a scraping sound.

The Effect of Heat on Brake Noise

One interesting aspect of the problem is that the noise only occurs when the brakes get hot. This can be attributed to the expansion of the brake fluid and metal parts when heated. As a result, the tolerances between the rotor and brake pads become smaller, causing increased rubbing and noise. When the brake pedal is pressed, the pads are forced together more tightly, changing the sound. It’s important to note that further inspection is needed to confirm the exact cause of the noise.

Inspecting the Brake System

To identify the root cause of the noise, it’s necessary to remove the wheel and inspect the brake pads and hardware. Upon removing the wheel, it’s evident that the brakes have been subjected to extreme heat. The outer surface of the brake pad area appears purple or blue, indicating excessive heat exposure. Additionally, the brake hardware, which holds the pads in place, should be checked for any shifting or bending that could lead to noise.

Identifying Glazed Brake Pads

A potential culprit for the noise is glazed brake pads. Glazing occurs when the heat causes the surface material of the pad to harden, making it less effective. In severe cases, the hardened pad surface can even damage the rotor. However, if the rotor is in good condition without warping or deep gouges, it may be possible to save money by only replacing the brake pads.

Fixing the Issue

To fix the squeaky brakes, follow these steps:

  1. Gather the necessary tools: lug wrench, jack, jack stands, brake pads, brake cleaner, and a C-clamp.
  2. Safely lift the car using the jack and secure it with jack stands.
  3. Remove the wheel to access the brake system.
  4. Inspect the brake pads for glazing, pitting, or shiny surfaces.
  5. If the brake pads are glazed or damaged, replace them with new ones.
  6. Use brake cleaner to remove any debris or dirt from the rotors.
  7. Install the new brake pads and ensure they are properly aligned.
  8. Compress the caliper piston using a C-clamp to make room for the new pads.
  9. Reassemble the wheel and lower the car back to the ground.
  10. Repeat the process for all remaining wheels.

Conclusion

Noisy squeaky brakes can be a nuisance, but with proper diagnosis and maintenance, they can be resolved quickly and efficiently. By understanding the causes of the squeak and following the step-by-step process to fix them, you can keep your brakes functioning optimally and save money on unnecessary repairs. Remember to regularly inspect your brakes and address any issues promptly to ensure safe and smooth driving experiences.

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