Why do my brakes squeak?

There are few things more annoying whilst you’re driving than hearing squeaky brakes. But aside from the irritating noise, squeaking brakes can indicate a wider problem, so it’s best to get them checked out.

We’re breaking down the top causes of loud, squeaking brakes, so you can figure out what’s going wrong and drive in peace and quiet. These include:

  • Weather conditions
  • Worn down brake pads
  • Dirty brakes
  • Glazing

Weather conditions

One of the more common causes of squeaky brakes is the weather. Over time, your brakes will accumulate a thin layer of rust, especially in cold and wet conditions. While this can be quickly burnt off once you start driving, it can cause your brake pads to wear over time.

Your brakes can also develop this layer overnight, as the moisture in the air causes a light layer of rust. Again, once you’ve used the brakes a few times it should stop squeaking.

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Worn down brake pads

It’s natural that over time your brake pads become worn. They’re parts that create friction in order to do their job, as the pad clamps onto the disc every time you press the brake pedal. This constant friction wears away the pads over their life, leaving them thinner and thinner until they need replacing.

To alert drivers that the pads have worn thin, some brake pads feature a metal wear indicator which provides a warning via a lamp or message to the driver when it contacts the brake disc. When you see this lamp or this message, it’s time to replace your pads, and possibly even your discs.

Most manufacturers suggest that brake pads should last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. However, this will depend on the quality of your pads, your driving habits, and the condition of your callipers and brake discs.

Dirty brakes

Brake dust, road grime, dirt and grit can all accumulate in the components of your car as you drive, and your brakes are no exception. If you’ve left your car standing for a while without driving it, then it can build up a layer of corrosion too.

If there is debris caught in your brakes, then you may hear a squeaking or grinding sound as it catches on your braking components. This should be investigated to prevent further wear or damage.


Abnormal squeaking from your brakes could also be caused by the way you drive. If you often enjoy fast-paced driving, or ride your brakes a lot, then you could be causing something called ‘glazed brakes’. This occurs when you frequently apply your brakes excessively. The repetitive friction can generate excessive heat, which in turn causes a smooth, hard glaze across the surface of your brake pads and discs.

This glazed surface not only creates a loud squeaking sound when you apply the brakes, but it’s no longer able to create the friction required to stop your vehicle. So, if your brake pads have become glazed, you’ll need to replace them.

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How do I stop squeaky brakes?

Although there are a number of potential causes of squeaky brakes, it can be hard to narrow down the exact problem on your own. So, we’d recommend booking in for a Free Brake Check at Halfords, so our experts can find the root of the problem.

Our trained technicians will look at your brake pads, discs, shoes, callipers, hoses, and handbrake linkages to identify the cause of the squeaking, and advise you on the best course of action, all for free.

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If you do need your brake pads or discs replaced, you can rest assured that we only use quality parts that match the manufacturer's original specification, and all our work comes with a 2 year or 24,000-mile guarantee, whichever is sooner.

Or, if you’re confident undertaking car repair tasks, you can replace your brake pads and brake discs yourself. Just enter your car registration into our handy parts finder to be shown the right brake pads and brake discs for your make and model. Remember, you should always replace your pads and discs together.

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Preventing problems before they arise is often down to how well you maintain and look after your brakes. This includes replacing your brake pads before they become worn enough to damage other components of your car. To help with this, why not join our Brakes4Life scheme? This exclusive offer gives you free replacement brake pads and brake shoes for life – even when you change your car. All you have to do if buy your first pair then we’ll cover the rest, forever.

You can move your policy over to a new car when you upgrade, or transfer it to the new owner of your original car when you sell it – the choice is yours. You can find more details about the scheme, including the full terms and conditions, here.

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