It’s my favorite time of year. Going outside without your jacket and boots on, putting away the snow shovels, dusting off your Red Sox hat, and going for your first drive of the season with the windows down, Finally!
Then you hear it, a noise. More precisely a squeaking noise. Now what could that be?!!
My first guess…, your brakes that have worn down. Now I am not implying that your brake pads wear more in the Spring. It’s just the time of year when you hear it (If you live in Boston or another place that has cold Winter’s). A lot of brake manufacturers install a metal tab that is attached to the brake pad. Once the friction material wears down to a certain point (Usually 2-3mm thick) the metal tab rubs against the rotor causing all the noise.
You can put the window back up, but it’s still there and whats worse, now you can hear it all the time because your aware of it.
If it just started, you usually have 1,000 to 2,000 miles left before the pad material is completely worn down to metal, that noise is MUCH worse. The good news is that it’s an easy fix, just replace your brakes.
When shopping for brakes, here are some things you might want to ask.
Price is important, but should not be the only factor. Finding the cheapest price may be an indication of what kind of technician is working on your vehicle and the quality of parts being used.
I would recommend buying the premium pads where ever possible. They last longer, do not make any noise, and create less dust that gets all over your wheels.
Find out if they are replacing or resurfacing the rotors? I have personally seen some places will resurface your brake rotors even if they are below specifiation (Too thin) to try and keep the cost down. This can cause noise, brake pulsation, and premature pad wear. Just say no, I want new rotors. It’s just a better brake job!
I can’t tell you how many times we redo a brake job that some other shop or dealership has done because price was the only thing that mattered to the customer initially. In the long run it cost significantly more becuase they paid for it twice.
After the repair facility inspects your brakes, ask if the brake pads are wearing evenly. If the pad thickness is 2mm on the left side and 8mm on the right side, you have other problems. Possible caliper sticking, flexible brake hose collapsing internally, etc. If this is overlooked, you will be doing brakes again real soon.
Have you ever heard of a pad slap (Taking old pads out and putting new ones in)? Just replacing the brake pads without removing the rust from the caliper slides and hub or neglecting to resurface/replace the rotors will cause premature failure and pulsation when stepping on the brake pedal. Plus it could cause noise just like the one you are trying to get rid of. So if you hear those words, leave and try somewhere else.
If your vehicle has drum brakes in the rear, make sure they get adjusted. This will improve pedal height and allow all four wheels to stop the vehicle evenly. Otherwise the front brakes do too much of the work.
Ask for Good Parts
Not all parts are the same. Like deciding whether to choose Kellogs Corn flakes (My choice) or the Store brand (My wifes choice), which hotel to stay in next time you go on vacation (Marriott or Red Roof), or buying shoes at The Walking Company versus Walmart. There are lots of options on brake parts. I usually choose the premium version for a lot of reasons. They last longer, stop better, don’t make noise, and create less dust on your shiny rims. Saving money is good, but may not be wise when it could cost you more in the long run.
Lifetime Warranty – Be carefull on this one. Usually the pads have a lifetime warranty but the rotors, calipers, and labor do not. If you buy quality pads, they should last 30,000 miles at a minimum. If you buy lifetime pads they usually last 15,000 miles or less. Lifetime usually means you will replace them more often.
Make sure they guarentee the noise will be gone if the brakes are replaced. Ask what the actual thickness of the brake pads are which is usually given in milimeters. New pad thickness’s are between 10-12mm, We recommend that they be replaced when they are 3mm or less.
Get rid of the squeak, roll all of the windows down, and enjoy your ride this Spring.