It’s understandable to be concerned when your car’s brake pedal starts to squeak. After all, a noisy brake pedal could mean something is wrong with your vehicle’s brakes. However, it might not be as serious as you think.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the causes, fixes, and repair costs, so you can confidently get back behind the wheel in no time!
Let’s get started.
Why Is My Brake Pedal Squeaking?
The most common cause of a squeaky brake pedal is dry brake pedal joints that need lubricating. Other times, a welding spot on the pedal could suffer from a fatigue crack that squeaks as the pedal is pressed. But if the squeaking occurs only when slowing down, it’s more likely due to worn brake pads or rotor issues.
Regardless of what’s causing the noise, it’s important to investigate and fix the problem before further damage is done.
So let’s take a closer look at the possible causes:
1. Dry Bushing or Brake Pedal Joints
As mentioned, one of the common causes of a squeaky brake pedal is dry rubber bushing or brake pedal joints. If any of these becomes too dry or worn, it can create an unpleasant sound when the brakes are applied.
Think about it as a squeaking door hinge. You can open the door fine, but there’s this unpleasant noise every time you do.
And similar to the door, this issue can, in many cases, be fixed by lubricating the joint with high-quality grease.
Unfortunately, lubrication does not always solve the problem, it may be necessary to replace the bushing or pedal assembly entirely.
In rare cases, it could also be a small welding spot crack that slightly flexes when pressing and releasing the pedal. This means you must remove the entire pedal assembly and weld it or entirely replace it.
2. Worn Brake Pads
If the screech only occurs when slowing down, but not when you’re parked. It’s an unfortunate sign that something isn’t right with your brakes. Worn brake pads are often the culprit behind this sound. Over time, the brake pads suffer from wear and tear, making them thinner and less effective at stopping the car. This causes them to rub against other parts of the braking system, creating noise as they do so.
Replacing worn brake pads is usually a straightforward job for an experienced mechanic. They’ll need to remove the wheel and access the brake caliper to fit new ones.
In some cases, you or the mechanic can take this opportunity to inspect other parts of the braking system to make sure nothing else needs attention before refitting the wheel and brakes.
Read more: 5 Cheapest Places to Get Brakes Done 2023
With new brake pads fitted, you can rest assured knowing you should be able to drive safely again without having to worry about any further jarring noises when you come to slow down or stop your car.
3. Wet Or Rusty Rotors
When you step into your car on a rainy or snowy day and press the brakes, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a squeaking noise from wet brakes. Don’t worry, though – you’ll only have to deal with it for a short while. As the brakes get hot, the moisture dries off, and even if the rain is coming down hard, it won’t stick around for long.
But if your car still squeaks after a few miles, then moisture on the rotors likely wasn’t the problem.
The same goes if you haven’t driven your vehicle in a while. This means there’s a decent chance there’s some rust on the rotors. This is especially true if you leave your vehicle parked outside in the elements. Water will hit the rotors, and rust can form from the condensation when you don’t drive your vehicle.
Fortunately, most times, all you need to do is to drive for a bit. The brake pads will help break off the rust from the rotors, which can stop the squeaking. However, when there is too much rust, it can eat away at the rotor, leaving it too thin or uneven.
4. Worn or Uneven Rotors
It’s not the most likely cause, but it’s worth considering. It’s possible that worn or damaged rotors could be the culprit for the squeaking noise. If your rotors are worn, you may also experience inconsistent braking, grinding noises, or other noise from the wheel well.
Additionally, if you recently fitted new brake pads but didn’t replace or resurface the rotors, this could also be causing a squeaking noise. Understandably, someone doesn’t want to replace rotors every time you fit new brake pads, but we always recommend resurfacing them to ensure a flat surface to mate to.
So when taking the above into consideration, take a glance at the rotors – if any warping, grooves, or other forms of damage are visible, you should replace them promptly.
5. Dry Rear Brake Shoes
Lastly, if your vehicle has rear drum brakes, it’s possible that the brake shoes can sometimes cause a squeaking noise when applying the brakes. This happens when the grease between the metal bracket and backing plate dries or gets washed off. Fortunately, it’s not a very expensive fix as all it takes is usually a clean and adjust.
Keep in mind that these are the most common causes, and there could be other potential reasons for your issue as well. Some mechanics might tell you it’s the brake lines, a leak of brake fluid, or even the brake booster giving you trouble.
It is, therefore, important that you can identify when the squeaky noise occurs and where it comes from.
How to Diagnose a Squeaky Brake Pedal
When diagnosing a squeaky brake pedal, the first step is determining if the noise occurs when the vehicle is parked or when the brakes are used.
This is quite simple. If the squeak only occurs if you press the pedal when the vehicle is parked, it is safe to say that the problem is due to the pedal assembly itself. But if the noise comes when the brakes are being used, such as when you’re applying the brakes to slow down. Then you want to pay attention to issues with brake pads or rotors that might need to be replaced.
Worn brake pads, rotors, and a small amount of rust are completely normal as long as you’re not experiencing premature wear or excessive rust. However, if the pads are unevenly worn or the rotors are warped, it’s a good idea to also thoroughly check for any underlying issues.
A few examples of such could be sticking brake calipers and guide pins that may need to be lubricated or replaced, as a lack of lubrication or damage can cause the pads to constantly press against the rotor, causing “dragging” brakes.
How Do You Fix a Squeaky Brake Pedal?
After you’ve identified the cause, it’s time to take action and fix the problem. Even when the brakes are applied lightly, an annoying squeal can fill the air and make you feel uneasy. So let’s look closer at how to fix this.
Here’s what you want to do to get rid of the squeaky sound:
1. For dry brake pedal joints or bushings, try lubricating them to see if it helps. This can be done using a multipurpose lubricant spray like Blaster. If it doesn’t help, you might want to remove the pedal assembly and check for any cracks. If so, weld it or replace it.
2. If you instead determined the squeaky noise is coming from the brakes and not the pedal, check the pad life. To do this, you need to determine its thickness. This can often be done without removing the wheel. Grab a flashlight and try to get a good look through the rims. If the brake pad looks thinner than 1/4”, you want to get them replaced.
Additionally, some brake pads may also have a wear indicator slot on the center of the pad. If it’s gone or only slightly visible, it’s time for new pads.
3. When it comes to worn or uneven brake rotors, there’s often not much to do rather than replace them. In some cases, you can sometimes save a few bucks by resurfacing, depending on the extent of the wear. However, it’s good to know that you’ll likely have to return to the shop within a few months for new rotors anyway.
While at it, check for any underlying issues. If you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, it’s best to take your vehicle to a mechanic. I’m sure he or she will be able to do a full inspection for you.
4. If you have rear drum brakes, and this is where you pinpointed the cause, it’s probably necessary to clean, adjust and lubricate them with grease. Ensure that the grease is compatible with the brakes.
With these steps completed, your car should be back in working order in no time!
Cost To Fix Squeaky Brake Pedal
With all this new knowledge about squeaky brake pedals, you may wonder what the cost of fixing them is. Here we’ll explore the typical costs associated with repairing a squeaky brake pedal and discuss ways to avoid costly repairs.
As with any car repair, the cost of fixing a squeaky brake pedal depends on the type of car you drive and the severity of the issue.
Generally speaking, if the brake pedal assembly needs lubricating or tightening connections, you can expect to pay a professional around $100. However, if it requires more complex repairs, such as replacing worn-out parts and rotors, or a complete overhaul of the entire system, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1000.
While the more complex repairs can be a challenge for most car owners, lubricating is something most can do themselves at home. This means you may only have to spend around $5 to $10 for a can of lubricant instead of hundreds of dollars. And as this is the most common cause of squeaky brake pedals, we recommend trying this first.
Read more: How Long Does It Take to Change Brakes? (Pads & Rotors)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does My Brake Pedal Make a Noise?
The reason a brake pedal makes a noise depends on the type of noise. A squeaking sound potentially indicates an issue with dry rubber bushings or dry brake pedal joints. But if the noise is more of a hissing sound, you’re more likely dealing with a faulty brake booster or brake master cylinder.
Is It Safe to Drive If Brake Pedal Is Hissing?
If it’s safe or not to drive with a hissing brake pedal is hard to say. But we do not recommend you keep driving until you address it properly since the noise could very well be from a damaged brake booster or faulty master cylinder. If so, getting it fixed is essential for your and others’ safety.
How do You Fix a Noisy Brake Pedal?
How you fix a noisy brake pedal depends on the type of noise. If it’s a hissing sound, you probably need to replace a leaking brake booster or a failing brake master cylinder. But if it’s more of a squeaking sound, then simply spraying some lubricant on the pedal’s rubber bushings or joints could fix it.
Overall, a squeaking brake pedal is often not a cause for concern. As long as it’s from the brake pedal and appears when parked, you can either learn to love the squeak or try to lubricate the bushing, spring, or joints to fix it. Either way, it’s usually nothing that affects the performance. But it’s important to immediately address the issue if the noise only occurs when applying the brakes to slow down.
It’s hard to give an accurate cost estimate for repairing a squeaky brake pedal as it ranges from a few dollars to several hundred depending on the severity of the problem.