New Brakes Squeaking? What You Should Know

sneaker-wearing foot on brake pedalYou pull away from your car repair shop, feeling safer and more in control of your car. You just got new brake pads! A couple of miles down the road, however, you start hearing a noise coming from your brakes: sqeeuuaaaaaak! New brakes aren’t supposed to squeak, are they?

While some noises may be normal after a brake pad replacement, others can point to a brake issue. Get the rundown of what’s normal, what’s not, and when it may be time to get professional help to evaluate your brakes.

Normal New Brake Squeal

Moisture

Moisture from rain, ice, and snow build up on your pads and rotors — two parts that touch when you push down on the brake pedal. Likewise, overnight condensation accumulating on the metal rotors can create surface rust that requires a few braking occurences in the morning to wipe away. These parts can make a squeaking noise when covered with surface rust. The noise should subside as you drive.

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Heavy Use

Equipped with new brake pads, you’re ready to take your car to new heights — the mountains! As you drive back home at the end of the day, however, you start hearing brake squeals. Oh no? Not yet! Has your foot been on the brake pedal the whole drive down the mountain? Are you riding the brakes? Constant pressure on the brake pedal and aggressive stopping can cause your brakes to get really, really hot and emit an audible squeak or chatter. To troubleshoot this new brake sound, pull over to a safe place, turn off your car, and give your brakes a break. Treat yourself to a coffee! Be aware that if this brake overheating persists, the damage may need to be resolved by a professional.

Some Lingering “Break-In”

Your Firestone Complete Auto Care will take care of the initial “break-in” of your new brake pads once they are installed. The break-in process ensures your new pads come into contact with the rotors in just the right way, and reduces the chance of glazing and squeaking. Even though your Firestone tech will take care of the initial “break-in” for you, your pads might need a few more miles to get acquainted with your rotors, especially if you’re getting all new rotors, too. So go easy on your brake pads for a while. Avoid slamming on the brakes and try to come to slow, gentle stops.

Not So Normal New Brake Squeal

Grinding, Not Squeaking

It’s not likely that you’ll hear grinding after getting your brake pads replaced, since a metal-on-metal sound typically means you’ve worn out your brake pads to the point that their wear indicators, or in a worst-case scenario, metal backing plates are exposed and grinding against the rotors. However, be aware that some brake hardware and some brake pads may make more noise than others, like on some performance cars. If in doubt, bring your vehicle to your local Firestone Complete Auto Care.

Brake Noise + More

Brake squeaks combined with vibration and pulsing in the brake pedal or steering wheel, a burning smell near your tires, or an illuminated brake warning light should all have you headed back to your repair shop. Something isn’t right within your brake system. Our technicians can perform a free brake check to get to the bottom of the issue and get you back on the road.

Taking Care of New Brake Pads

Caring for your new brake pads from the get-go can help them last longer and perform better.

  • Start by slowing down and keeping your eyes on the road. This can help you avoid slamming on the brakes and creating more friction (heat) than necessary in your brake system.
  • Don’t “two-foot” your pedals. If you keep one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake pedal at all times, this can lead to you accidentally “tapping” your brakes pretty often. Brake “taps” do little to slow down your car, but a lot when it comes to wearing out your brake pads. (Plus, “two-footing” is a big Driver’s Ed no-no!)
  • Coast instead of brake. When possible, let your car coast to help it slow down and stop instead of braking.
    Only haul what you need to. Still carting around bags full of old clothes to donate? How about boxes of tools and books or last season’s ski gear that you never got rid of? (No judgment, here!) It’s time to lighten your load a bit! All that extra weight in your car can add up, putting a larger burden on your brake pads when you try to stop. Eventually, this can lead to premature brake pad wear.

You depend on your brakes to slow and stop your vehicle and keep you safe on the road. That’s why you should never wait when you have a question about your brakes, no matter if you just had your brake pads replaced or not. Head to your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care for expert answers to your brake questions and a free brake inspection!

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