Why Are My New Brakes Squeaking?

New brakes give you added safety and peace of mind. But they can make some unexpected sounds as they settle into place. It’s perfectly normal. What isn’t normal are noises that continue for more than five days. If your new brakes are squeaking, grinding, or making some lingering noises, here’s what could be happening and what you can do to troubleshoot it.

Reasons Why New Brakes Squeak

Most new brakes make noise after being installed. This can go on for a few days. But even after brakes have had a chance to break in, they can still make unexpected sounds, including squeaks, squeals and grinding. Here are the common reasons for those noises.

Car sitting in traffic

Small rocks, dust, or sand

When small bits of rock or sand get in the brakes, they can cause squeaks. Stop by Les Schwab. Our pros can get those bits of debris out for you.

Water on the rotors

Overnight condensation or other moisture can collect on brake rotors. When this happens, it can cause some light rust, which may cause brake noises. To fix the problem, keep your vehicle in a garage whenever possible.

Cold weather

A sudden cold snap can cause your brakes to squeal until they warm up.

Heavy loads and lots of braking

Whether you’re towing a trailer that’s too heavy for your vehicle, or you’ve packed your truck or car with too much weight, the brakes can overheat. This can damage the brakes and increase the chances of unexpected noises. Additionally, using your brakes too much, even if you’re not hauling a heavy load, can cause excessive heat buildup and cause issues. If you’re worried you’ve damaged your brakes, get to Les Schwab for a free visual inspection.

Poor installation or craftsmanship

Inferior parts or improperly installed brakes can lead to noises and other issues. If you’re concerned about an installation, or if the parts may have been inferior, make an appointment at Les Schwab. We’ll take a look and make recommendations.

Sticking or seized calipers

If your calipers were improperly lubricated when installed, it might lead to unwanted sounds. If you hear brake noises both when you’re braking and when you’re not, stop by Les Schwab so we can check it out.

When to Consider Revisiting Your Brake Shop

Over time, and even after an installation, brakes can require servicing or replacement. Look for the following issues.

Grinding noises

Grinding noises could indicate bigger brake problems. A trip to Les Schwab is recommended when you hear or feel any form of grinding.


Maximizing range and efficiency may require a focus on tread patterns and tire sizes.

Wobbling or vibration when braking

If your steering wheel or vehicle shakes or vibrates when you apply the brakes, it could be that the thickness of your rotor is uneven. If the rotors are too far worn to be serviced, they will need to be replaced.

Leaking fluid

Brake fluid is used to create hydraulic pressure against the brake caliper when you apply the brake pedal. If your vehicle has no brake fluid, you won’t be able to stop safely. Check your vehicle’s brake fluid often and stop by Les Schwab if you notice a leak or decline in fluid level.

Spongy or soft brakes

If your brake pedal goes all the way to the floorboard or feels soft when you stop, it could indicate air or moisture in the braking system. If you experience spongy or soft brakes, stop by Les Schwab. Our pros can help diagnose the issue.

Car pulling to one side when braking

This can happen when one of the front brakes is not working properly — or at all. The pull will be to the side of the working brake. Get your brakes inspected regularly at Les Schwab to spot these issues before they become a problem.

Burning Smells or smoke

When brakes overheat, they give off a sharp, chemical smell. If it gets really bad, they can begin to smoke. If your brakes are overheating, pull over and allow them to cool off. In some cases, smoke could mean the brakes are locked, which may require roadside assistance.

How to Extend the Life of Your Brakes

Safe yet assertive driving, as well as good brakes, can add safety to every outing. Here are some ways to get the most life out of your brakes.

Brake gently

Watch the road ahead and avoid slamming on your brakes.

Glide whenever possible

Instead of braking, take your foot off the gas and coast toward your stopping point (if it’s safe to do so).

Never use two feet on the brakes

Adding too much pressure to the brake pedal will not stop your vehicle any sooner or faster. Additionally, the extra pressure may damage parts of your braking system.

Properly maintain your brakes

Get to Les Schwab for a free visual inspection of your brakes. Our pros will let you know if you need new brakes or brake servicing

Don’t overpack your vehicle

Hauling heavy loads now and then is fine. But, vehicles are not designed to haul excessive weight. When you lighten the load, you’ll help extend the life of your brakes.

Visit Your Local Les Schwab

Our pros are trained to properly install and service disc brakes, drum brakes, and calipers. If your brakes make any odd noises or smells, get to Les Schwab. If you need repairs or new brakes, we can show you all the options and take care of the installation.

Schedule an Appointment