One of the most important safety features your vehicle has are its brakes. That is, as long as they’re in good condition and working well. If you notice funny noises like squealing brakes, however, you might wonder exactly how safe they are. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why your brakes might squeak and learn whether or not you need to be concerned.
What causes squealing brakes?
To get a better understanding about why brakes squeal, it’s helpful to know how their internal parts function. In simple terms, brakes are comprised of a metal disc that sits between two pads. When the brakes are applied, these materials rubbing together create friction and often result in a squeaky sound.
When are squealing brakes okay?
Although the sound is never pleasant, there are times when brakes squeak or make other noises that really aren’t a cause for alarm. Sometimes, something as simple as moisture or little bits of dirt can create some odd sounds. Here are a few causes of squealing brakes that could be more annoying than dangerous:
- Morning moisture – Sometimes, when your vehicle sits overnight, moisture can accumulate on the brakes. This could cause them to squeal when you first drive the next morning. The sound should disappear as the moisture goes away, however.
- Snow and rain – Similar to morning moisture, exposure to snow, rain, or high water levels can leave the brakes wet. Over time, this can create a layer of rust which will cause a squealing sound when the brakes are applied. Again, the sound should go away as the rust breaks down with braking and eventually disappears.
- Pulling or carrying heavy loads – When extra strain is placed on brake parts, such as when you’re hauling or carrying something heavy, they can swell up. This often results in noisy brakes as the parts heat up and rub together.
- Types of brake pads – Some brake pads are more prone to noise than others. The harder the pad, the more likely it is to squeal.
- Dirt or debris – Little bits of dirt or dust caught in between brake parts can cause them to squeal. People who frequently drive on dirt roads or in dusty areas will experience this often.
When to be concerned about brake sounds
Squealing brakes are typically not alarming if they only do so intermittently. If the sound persists, however, it’s time for your vehicle to take a trip to see your favorite auto mechanic. For ultimate brake safety and peace of mind, you can have your mechanic perform a brake inspection even if your car’s in the shop for something else. After all, it’s better to catch potential brake problems before they become big problems.
For example, squealing brakes can be a warning sign that your brake pads are beginning to reach their usable life. Manufacturers have created a built-in metal piece that touches the brake’s metal disc when the brake pads have worn thin. This is your cue that it’s time for some preventative maintenance.
If you’re ever unsure about what your squealing brakes mean, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We recommend brake service once a year, or more often if you hear strange noises that don’t go away. Are you ready to put a stop to noisy brakes to ensure your vehicle’s safety? Schedule an appointment today!