Are Your Brakes Squealing?

A car on a lift with the brakes exposed.
Car Brakes Repair(sykono | Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Brake squeals are a noise that always come around…it can aggravate you and be embarrassing. Yes, you can take your car into the mechanic, or you can spend your Sunday afternoon putting brake pads on to save some money. Then Monday comes around and they are squealing so badly in the morning you wake up the neighbor’s dog. Well, do not feel bad, you are not alone. We technicians have this problem on our cars too.

One of the biggest problems are those hot days and cold nights. As your brakes cool off at night, they tend to glaze over and slightly harden. So, when you leave in the morning, the first one to five times you brake, it squeals badly, and then not again the rest of the day. Secondly, modern vehicles are aerodynamic and move air over the vehicle and not under it. This keeps your brakes hotter than a pick-up truck or an SUV. In my experience, trucks and SUV’s rarely have brake noise compared to the smaller cars.

Lastly, and probably the most important reason, is brake pad composition. In the past, they used asbestos as a brake lining. And it was the best at durability and heat dissipation. Unfortunately, the dust can kill you. There are so many different brake pad brands out there and each brand has at least three distinct levels of brake pad material. You have organic, which is low life, extremely low noise. Then you can choose from semi-metallic or ceramic based lining. Ceramic brakes are your best chance at long life and low noise. The price has an effect also… cheap pads ($30.00 to $40.00) will make a lot of noise. You have mid-grade pads ($40.00 to $60.00) which are good for most vehicles on the road. The higher grade ($70.00 to $150.00) is most used in sports cars and big trucks.

The bottom line is do not put the cheapest pads on. Most people are not happy with that. If you have a noise problem, go with a good middle grade ceramic pad, and make sure hardware and shims are replaced also. Just remember to have your brakes checked at every oil change and if your brakes do squeal, let the shop know. Most shops want you to be happy and will be glad to try a different pad brand or grade to help your aggravating noise disappear. We would love to help you at White’s Automotive Center! Please come see us!

White's Automotive Center