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Rodney Ripley, 1931-1996
Opened Ripley's Muffler & Brakes, 1973

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Squeaking Brakes - What does it mean?

squeaking brakes houstonSquealing, squawking, and squeaking brakes can not only be annoying; these noises can indicate a potentially serious problem with your braking system. Squeaky brakes can panic a driver, as they are arguably the most important safety feature in every automobile. Sometimes the concern is warranted, as the brakes are going bad. Other times, there may be nothing wrong at all. Be safe, take your car to the professionals at either Ripley's Muffler & Brakes location for a free brake check, and let them determine if there is cause for concern.

Common Causes of Squealing Brakes

Squeaky brakes are common. With multitudes of moving parts, weird noises of some sort or another are heard on a daily basis. There are many reasons that can cause your brakes to squeal or grind. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Worn Out Brake Pads & Shoes -- Worn out brake pads is the most common reason for squeaky brakes. Over time the brake pad surface wears away due to the friction between the brake pad and disc. Brake pads usually have built in wear and tear indicators that are small metal strips embedded in the brake pad material. If the brake pads have worn past the warning tabs, metal on metal can cause a pretty horrendous noise, and can do major damage to your brake system.
  • Brake Pad Vibration -- If the brake pads shake or vibrate when they are applied, it leads to irregular or uneven pressure on the spinning brake rotor. That can lead to reduced brake power, and grinding and squeaking of brakes.
  • Distorted, Cracked, or Worn Brake Rotors and Calipers -- Brake rotors are made so that their smooth, flat surfaces are easily held by brake calipers. Brake calipers have the function of squeezing the brake shoes tightly against the rotors. If the brake rotors are distorted or warped, they present an uneven surface for the brake calipers to hold. Uneven brake shoe application leads to squeaking brakes when driving.
  • Incorrectly Secured Caliper Bolts – Caliper Bolts are the two largest bolts near the brake mechanism on a wheel. A common reason for squeaking brakes can be that these caliper bolts could be too tight or too loose.

What to Watch For

If the brakes are squeaking constantly or you feel a grinding sensation through the pedal or steering wheel, there's most likely a problem. If your car pulls to one side when braking, if your brake pedal feels different than normal, or if you require more pressure on the brake pedal to stop, it can mean there is a problem. Be safe and have your brake system checked by a professional immediately.

Have An Expert Check It Out

It's possible a completely different problem is causing your brake noise so have a mechanic make sure it's not a more serious problem before you dismiss it as "normal brake noise." Remember, brakes are designed to make noises when they're going bad to warn you, so don't dismiss the noises without having them checked out by a professional.