You’re driving around town with the radio on. You make a stop at a stoplight and don’t notice anything wrong. The you stop at the next light and you still don’t notice anything. You turn off the radio to place your order at the drive-up window and suddenly you notice that you brakes are squealing. When did that start? Was it like that when you pulled out of your driveway this morning?

Brakes start squealing so gradually that it can be hard to know the exact time the noise started. One minute they seem fine, the next you’re thinking “oh no, what’s this going to cost me?” Why do brakes squeal, anyway? How long do you have before it’s time to get them checked out? Can you drive without them? (Answer: yes, but stopping becomes an issue!) Let’s take a look at brakes and some of the interesting things aspects of them.

They’re Mud

That headline might sound like a typo, but it’s true…many brakes today are made from ceramics, which are a special type of mud that’s been shaped and baked into a super hard material. Ceramics can be made into knives that keep and amazing edge, flooring tiles that stand up to thousands of feet every day, and cutting discs that can cut through just about anything. Ceramics are often combined with copper in order to create the brakes found on many modern cars.

Even the hardest material in the world can be worn away, and ceramics are no different. They’re under a lot of heat and pressure every time you stop, which means that little by little they are worn away and become dust. When that happens, you start to hear the squeal. But the squeal doesn’t mean that the brake is about to fail…

Why They Squeal

One of the most common reasons that brakes start to squeal is that they are getting thin. The squeal is called an “indicator” and is actually manufactured into the brake so that you can be told when it’s time to replace them. Generally, the brakes start to wear when the pads are about 75% worn out. When you start hearing the squeal, it’s time to come in for brake service at Elite. If you don’t and the entire pad wears away, you’ll have metal grinding on metal, scratching the rotor and causing damage. If you don’t replace the pads now, you’ll be replacing the pads and the rotors…an extra charge you’d probably rather avoid!

If you hear the occasional squeal, like when you back out of the garage after the car has been sitting all night, it’s probably just condensation that has formed on the metal parts of the brake. The same thing can happen after you drive through a large puddle and water splashes up into your wheels and onto the brakes.

One More Thing About Ceramics Brakes

Don’t be alarmed, but your brakes squeal every time you stop. Even after you’ve just left us after having brake service, ceramic brakes squeal. The thing is, you just can’t hear it! The squeal that occurs when you stop your car is so high-pitched that it’s out of the range of human hearing, above 20,000 kHz. While you’ll never hear it, some animals might be annoyed every time you approach a stop sign!

Elite Automotive is here whenever you’re in need of brake service or repair. When you start hearing that telltale squeak that your brakes are giving out, don’t delay…it could cause you to need even bigger repairs. If it’s time for your brakes to be replaced, contact us today!