Brake squeal typically occurs when the brake pads need to be replaced. There is a small metal tab attached to the brake pads that is designed to make noise when the pads are running thin. Brake manufacturers design their products this way to ensure you replace the pads before they wear out completely.
Types of Brake Squeal
There are three types of brake sounds that you should be aware of:
- Squeaks indicate worn brake hardware that needs to be replaced. Even if the pads have recently been replaced, the caliper slides that engage the brake may be dried out, rusted or stuck.
- Squeals that occur when you apply the brakes are the result of interference on the brake disk. If the squeal is constant and only goes away when the brake is applied, the metal tab designed to alert the driver to worn brakes may need replacement.
- Grinds indicate metal-on-metal contact. This is a dangerous condition that needs to be looked at by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible. Experts recommend you stop driving and call a tow truck.
Most brake sounds do not indicate immediate mechanical problems, but you should take your car in for a check and tune-up as soon as you hear unexpected sounds. If the brakes are left to squeal for long, the pads can get worn down to the tissue, damaging the assembly and forcing you to replace the rotors. You should get brake issues checked as soon as possible and be prepared to replace parts if necessary.