New Brakes Squeaking – What It Means, Causes & How to Fix It

The last thing you want to hear when you get a new pair of brake pads on your vehicle is a squeak when you push down the pedal. But while it can be frustrating and anxiety-inducing, it’s more common than you might think.

So, if you find that your new brakes are squealing, what’s going on? More importantly, how can you fix it, and do you need to take your car back to the shop? We’ll answer those questions and more for you here. That way, the next time you hear your brakes squeak you know exactly what’s going on and what you need to do.

Causes of New Brakes Squeaking

Before we dive into when you should take your vehicle into the shop for squealing brakes and whether or not it’s a problem, we need to dive into the causes for new brakes squeaking in the first place. Once you figure out why your new brakes are squealing, it’ll be much easier to figure out what you need to do from there.

1. Low-Quality Brake Pads

A lot of repair shops don’t want to admit this, but if you’re going for lower quality parts and cheaper repairs, sometimes you get a little bit of noise. These parts will still do a phenomenal job of stopping your vehicle, but they’re not always the quietest option.

The noisiest brake pads tend to be the semi-metallic ones, and those are also the brake pads that wear out the fastest. If this is the cause of your squeaky brakes, there’s not much you can do besides swapping out the brake pads for better ones.

Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with these brake pads and they’ll keep stopping your vehicle, so you can also just turn up the radio a bit.

2. Not Mated Properly

Whenever your vehicle gets new brake pads, you need to resurface or replace the rotors to ensure a proper fitment with the new pads.

Moreover, you need to break in the pads after you put them on your vehicle. If you neglect either step, there’s a good chance you might hear squealing when you hit the brakes, and your brakes won’t be as effective as they should be.

3. Moisture Buildup

This is an extremely common problem in the morning when there’s still some morning dew on your brakes. When you use the brakes, it can catch some of this moisture between the brakes and the brake pads.

It’s not a big deal, but when there’s moisture between the pads and the rotor, it might cause some squealing. The good news is that once the brakes heat up, the moisture will evaporate, and the problem should go away.

4. Corrosion Buildup

If you haven’t driven your vehicle in a while, it’s not uncommon for the moisture that settles on the brakes to turn into a bit of corrosion. While corrosion isn’t really good for your vehicle, it’s not a big deal as long as there’s not a ton of it on the brakes.

A few times hitting the brakes while you’re driving down the road will work off the corrosion, and the squeaking when you hit the brakes should go away.

5. Dust or Debris on the Rotor

Sometimes something finds its way in between the rotor and the brake pads. Most of the time it’s a piece of tiny dust and debris and it will work its way out on its own.

But sometimes you get a little unlucky and something a bit larger gets stuck in there. Let the brakes cool down then take a look at both sides of the pads where the noise is coming from. If there’s a larger piece of debris in there, remove it and the problem should go away.

Don’t let this problem linger though. If a larger piece of debris gets stuck in between the pad and the rotor, and if you keep driving, it can lead to scratches or gouges on the rotor.

6. Overusing the Brakes

Did you know that the manufacturer rates your brake pads to a certain limit? While most of the time this doesn’t present a problem, towing something or traveling in very steep terrain can lead to you overworking your brakes.

This will have them heat up more than they should, and when they cool back down, they can have a glaze. When you hit the brakes with this glaze on the pads or rotors, it won’t stop as quickly as it should. Moreover, it can create the squeaking sound that you keep hearing.

Will The Noise Go Away?

If the squeaking noise will go away really comes down to what the root cause of the squeak is. If the problem is moisture, corrosion, dust, or debris in the brakes, the squeaking should go away.

However, if it’s occurring because of low-quality brake pads or incorrect installation, the squeaking brakes might stick around until the next time you replace the pads.

It’s up to you to determine the cause of your squeaking brakes, and then you can determine if the problem will go away anytime soon.

Are Squeaky Brakes a Problem?

Once again, this really depends on why the brakes are squeaking. If the brakes are squealing simply because they’re semi-metallic or if it’s one of the conditions where the squealing will go away on its own, it’s really not a problem.

However, squeaking brakes can tell you that there’s an issue you need to address. Even as the brakes wear down, this is how they communicate with you that it’s time to replace them.

So, once again, it’s about finding the cause of the squeaky brakes. Because while it can be a problem, sometimes there’s no problem at all, and there’s nothing you need to do to fix the situation.

When Should You Take Your Car to a Repair Shop for Squeaky Brakes?

If you just got new brake pads on your vehicle and you hear some squeaking, it can be tempting to want to take it right back to the shop to have them figure out what’s going on.

And while that might be the right decision in some cases, other times, it’s just a waste of your time. Listen to see if you hear or feel anything else besides the squeaking. If so, take your vehicle to the shop right away.

Also, you need to see how loud the squeaking is. If you can hear the squeaking with the windows up and the radio playing at a low level you shouldn’t be able to hear the squeaking. If you can, it’s too loud and you should take your vehicle to a repair shop to see what’s going on.

If the repair shop you took your vehicle for new brakes won’t give you a straight answer, we recommend getting a second opinion at a different shop.

Four Other Brake Noises to Be Aware Of

While hearing new brakes squeaking is a fairly common occurrence, that doesn’t mean you should just tune out all the noises coming from the brakes. If you hear any of these four other noises coming from your brakes, you need to take it to a repair shop right away.

1. Grinding

If there’s any kind of metal-on-metal contact in the brake system, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a grinding noise. This is common when the backing plate of the brake pad hits the rotor, or the caliper is making contact with a component. Either way, grinding noise in your brakes is bad news.

2. Clunking

Clunking noises from the braking system can mean a lot of things – but none of them are good. The clunking noise can come from old rotors, calipers, backing plates, or a component shifting around if the shop didn’t reinstall it correctly.

3. Rattling

If you hear a rattling noise when you hit the brakes, there’s a good chance something is loose in your brake system. It could be a bolt that the mechanic didn’t reinstall or another problem. No matter the issue, you need to figure out what’s moving around and remedy the situation immediately.

4. Thumping

Thumping noises are common if your vehicle has warped rotors. If the shop resurfaced the rotors when they replaced the pads they probably screwed it up, or they didn’t do anything to the rotors at all.

No matter what the problem is, you need to figure it out and remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

You don’t want to deal with any squeaking or squealing when you hit the brakes, especially when you have new brake pads. But while we’d love to tell you it’s never going to happen again, there’s a good chance it will.

But at least now you know what the cause could be and when you should worry about it. Don’t stress out and if you really can’t stand the sound, replace both the pads and rotors with a high-quality set next time and you shouldn’t hear the squeal or squeak as often.

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Rickard Cefalk

Rickard is the owner of and a dedicated and avid do-it-yourselfer who has always enjoyed working on his own vehicles since childhood. He now devotes his time to sharing his expert knowledge of car maintenance and other car-related information through his website.

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