Dealing with Squeaky Brakes

Squeaky brakes can be annoying, but if left ignored, may be symptomatic of bigger problems which might cost you at your next MOT, or worse, lead to danger. If your brakes are squeaking, find out which of these common causes it could be and how to fix it.
Throughout our lives, we have to deal with a series of issues with our vehicles, but getting them sorted as soon as possible is always the best course of action.

No doubt that squeaking brakes can become an infuriating noise and inconvenience, but it could signify a more serious issue – or it could be a quick fix.

This guide looks into the main reasons why your brakes are making squeaking noises, the best way to solve the issue, and the safest ways to keep your car in the best condition possible.

Causes of squeaky brakes

DRIVE Driving School Brake Pads

If your vehicle’s brakes are squeaking, then I am sure you are desperate to find out the cause for the noises.

Also, you may have noticed your brake warning light – do not ignore this as it could signify a serious problem.

Below are the main reasons why your car brakes are making that shrill sound.

Worn down brakes, brake pads and callipers

Over time, most parts of your vehicle will either need to be fixed, serviced, or replaced – and your brakes are no different. There are many different mechanical functions and pieces of machinery within the vehicle that can impact the brakes, and so getting a specialist to discover the reason for the noise is vital.

Brake pads often get worn thin and you press and release the brake over a period of time. The lifespan of these depends on your driving style.

The friction caused by the braking action can burn through the pads – causing them to become thinner and thinner.

A sticky calliper or wheel cylinder can cause brake pads to be continuously forced against the rotor blade (the metal disk inside the wheel), creating a grinding, crunching, or squeaking sound.

In modern vehicles, there will be a brake wear indicator that will let the driver know that the brakes may need replacing or looked at by a mechanic as soon as possible. This car warning light will appear on the dashboard.

Weather conditions and moisture causing thin layer of rust

DRIVE Driving School aquaplaning

Although commonly associated with a squeaking sound, you can also expect to hear a deeper griding noise if this is happening to your vehicle’s brakes.

Over time, a brake can build a layer of rust – especially when in moist conditions.

This can often be burnt off when you apply the brakes, but it will wear down the pads over time.

With winter fast approaching, it is important to make sure your car is as safe to drive as possible. If a thin layer of rust is causing a squeaky brake, it may indicate that your car needs to be serviced or repaired.

Cheaper or more metallic pads

When it comes to buying brake pads, cheaper and high metal content can cause your brakes to squeak.

These metal pieces contact the brake rotor, causing high pitched squeals that can lead to more serious issues with the brakes.

The best way to resolve this is to buy the best quality brakes pads recommended for your car make and model. When it comes to cost saving measures – especially in times like these – cutting corners on safety is not the best idea.

New brakes need bedding in

If you have recently purchased or new car or have had new replacement brake pads and related parts, you could hear a squealing coming from your brakes.

This is just them going through the bedding-in process.

The cause for this is normally just the brakes touching the transfer layer. The easiest fix is to speed up and brake over a short period of time to burn it off. Please do this in a safe environment and be aware of your surroundings.

Heavy loads

DRIVE Driving School storage

You may notice your brakes struggling if you are carrying a larger load in your vehicle. With more weight when driving at high speeds – it takes more energy to brake.

As a result, you will likely hear a loud noise coming from your brakes. This is nothing to be too concerned with, unless the problem continues after you have removed the excess weight from the vehicle.

Constant heavy loads would likely lead to brake pads wearing down quicker.

Dirty brakes

Dirt can become embedded in the brake over time or when you drive on roads with a lot of debris. This can lead to squeaky brakes.

This can also be the case if the car has been left for a while and dust has built up on the brakes.


In order to keep your brakes and surrounding area well maintained, you will need to keep the contact points suitably lubricated to avoid any squeaking.

Can your speed cause squeaky breaks?

DRIVE Driving School Motorway Lanes

A common time to hear your brakes squeaking is when you are travelling at low speeds in a lower gear.

In many owner’s manuals, you will find a section that explains why this happens.

The primary cause s that at lower speeds, you can hear a high-frequency vibration caused by the brake pads contacting the rotor disk. This can then be further impacted by dirt and moisture in the brake.

Squeaky brakes: What is glazing?

As well as your speed, your driving style plays a huge factor in the state and lifespan of your brakes and brake pads.

Repeated hard breaking from high speeds or riding your breaks will lead to a large amount of heat coming off the brake.

This causes a smooth, hard glaze to form on the brake pads. This is dangerous as it means that the brakes are unable to produce the amount of friction needed to slow the vehicle.

In more serious cases, this could lead to the brake cracking or breaking entirely.

However, it isn’t just your driving style that could result in glazing.

A mechanical failure in the brake calliper or hydraulic system can cause the brake pads to rub against the brake rotor even when you’re not applying the brake pedal.

If this crystallisation process has happened in your vehicle, it is best to see a specialist as soon as possible. Luckily, it is a relatively easy fix! A technician will take the parts out of the vehicle and remove the glaze before putting the car back together.

How to stop squeaky brakes?

DRIVE Driving School Questions

By now you will have a greater understanding of why you are hearing a high pitched noise coming from your vehicle. However, there are some useful tips in order to prevent any future issues.

However, if there is no easy home fix, then it is best to visit a mechanic who know what they are doing.

Visit an approved garage at your earliest convenience to get an expert to solve the issues. You can also book a car repair in order to get you back on the road.

However, there is an alternative option – the mobile mechanic! These specialists can come to your home or place of work and solve the problem you are having.

To find out which one suits your needs, this guide on garages and mobile mechanics will give you all the information you need.

There are ways to make your brake pads last longer without seeing a specialist.

As a driver, you should be aware of traffic and anticipate potential braking situations. Apply brakes steadily and gradually instead of suddenly slamming them on.

Linking to this, driver should avoid high-speeds and sudden braking, as it puts brake pads under extra pressure, which will lead to quicker wear and tear.

Also, by driving light you can reduce any unnecessary load on the vehicle and its brakes.

Maintaining brake pads is vitally important when trying to avoid squeaky brakes.

MOT, Mobile Mechanics, and servicing

DRIVE Driving School MOT Test

The brakes are an integral part of any vehicle, and will cause you to fail your MOT if there are any issues with them.

During the MOT, a mechanic will inspect the brakes’ pedals, levers, rotor, and other parts – as well as its general condition, and carry out any fixes necessary to ensure it is road safe.

If you take your vehicle for a service, they will most likely carry out any work to the brakes and surrounding area.

When it comes to safety, brakes are vital. So, if you do not have time to book a service at a garage, organise a mobile mechanic to visit you at home or at work.

Finally, if you are driving an electric vehicle (EV), you will also need to check out your brakes.

Hopefully you will now have a better understanding of your issues and how to fix it!