Bike Brakes Squealing: How to Stop Bike Brakes Squeaking!

bike brakes squealing

Every bike rider must have faced squeaky brakes in their bike riding experience, and they all have one thing in common: they find this sound annoying. 

If your bike brakes are squealing, the most likely cause is that they need to be adjusted. The first thing you should do is check the brake pads to make sure they are not worn out or damaged. If they are, then you will need to replace them.

Bike brakes can squeak for various reasons, and one reason might follow the other and pose a threat overall. Naturally, anyone who rides a bike could get frustrated by the squeaking sound that comes every time they apply the brakes. 

Not only do these squeaky sounds take the fun away, but they pose a warning. The sounds warn the rider to get the brakes fixed before something dangerous happens. 

Read on as this guide will help you see what reasons can cause the squeaking in your bike bikes and will also offer a way to solve them.

6 Reasons Your Bike Brakes Are Squeaking

Breaks on a bike

#1 Embedded Aluminum

Sometimes when the bike has been used for some time, the tiny particles of aluminum from the rim can get embedded in the rubber which then causes the brakes to make a squeaking sound as well as cause the rim to wear out. 

A rider can avoid this by picking out these bits of aluminum (but that’s a hassle). It’s easier to replace the pads as it offers a quick solution. 

#2 Contamination

If your bike brakes constantly make a squeaking noise whenever you apply the brake, it is much more likely that your brake pads are contaminated. 

Brake pads are known to get contaminated easily by grease, dirt, or oil, which then cause friction in the brake pads. They then rotate with the wheel, causing a squeaking noise whenever the brake is applied. 

Chain lube, degreaser, bike fluid, or bike polish can cause contamination. They sometimes find their way to the bike brake rotor and contaminate the pads.

Even touching your bike rims or blocks with greasy hands can cause contamination.

One more reason why your brake pads are squeaking is from the built-up oil or debris that is contaminating the brake pads. This happens when you ride a bike on wet or gnarly terrains that can get debris on the rim or rotor and then on the brake pads. 

To avoid getting your bike’s brake pads from getting contaminated, you should keep your bike clean after every ride or two. 

#3 Poor Condition

Sometimes the squeaking noise is caused by the debilitating condition of the bike parts. Check to see if your brake disc is straight; if it is curved, it can touch the brake pads while riding the bike, which then causes the squeaking sound.

Rotors are meant to bend easily, if your rotor is dented or cracked, you can try to fix it but if that still doesn’t help, you need to replace it. 

Moreover, the brake pads can also become glazed and hard over time. You should pick small particles of grit off the pads and try to use sandpaper or a file to smoothen the layer of the pads. 

» You can also read my post: How to Fix Flat Bike Tire?

#4 Pad Wear

Brake pads can wear away easily if the bike has covered a long distance, especially on rough terrain. A bike’s brake pads are typically designed with teeth or grooves, so they have improved grip and act as wear indicators.

However, if those teeth or grooves are also heavily worn out, they can make squeaking noises, and you can only solve it by replacing your worn-out brake pads with new ones.

Therefore, it is much more likely that the squeaking noise is coming from the old and worn-out brake pads.

To avoid this, keep a regular check and balance of your brake pads, and inspect if their thickness is down to a millimeter or even less. It’s time to get new ones.

This will prevent squeaking noises as well as keep the pads apart, so they don’t come into contact with the rotor. 

#5 Pad Position

Many people find out that their brake pads are squeaking because of improper alignment or wrong caliper position.

If your brake pads are not set up correctly they could be rubbing against the rim of the wheel whenever you apply the brakes. Therefore, causing the brakes to squeak whenever you ride. 

Another reason can be the wrong alignment of the caliper or maybe a bent rotor which is causing the brake pads to rub when you ride your bike. 

Ensure that the caliper is fixed firmly in its right frame because if the caliper is not rightly centered over the rotor, it can rub the pad from one side, making the squeaking noise as the wheel spins. 

You can easily get them fixed by taking them to a mechanic’s shop, or if you have enough knowledge about bike brakes, you can easily fix and align the brake pads to solve this issue.

» Read my blog post about: How Much Is a Bike Tune-Up?

#5 Rainwater

Brake pads can also squeak if they are wet. If you have a habit of riding on wet terrain or even on rainy days and don’t wipe your bike dry from the water residue afterward, the water can act as a lubricant and cause squeaking sounds.

This is easy to fix since you just need to make sure to take a towel or rag and wipe off the bike and brake pads dry whenever you ride in such conditions where the bike brake pads get wet from water.

 Don’t use a dirty cloth; make sure it is clean so you don’t end up causing contamination. 

How to Stop Bike Brakes From Squeaking?

rust on bike

Here are some ways that you can easily try yourself in your home garage to stop your bike brakes from squeaking.

#1 Inspect Your Bike 

If you have been noticing the squeaking sound from your bike brakes and want to fix them, the first thing to do is inspect why they are making this sound and then eliminate that cause. 

To do that, you need to put your bike on a bike stand, put it upside down, or lean it against the wall so you get a good angle to inspect the bike brakes thoroughly. 

Since bike brakes tend to get squeaky for a bunch of different reasons, it is always better to examine them and fix them yourself.

Sometimes the grease and oil can get stuck in the brake area, giving room to the squeaking sound. Inspect to see if there is build-up dirt and the condition of the brake pads, are they wearing, glazed over, or uneven? 

Also, make sure to examine if the caliper is properly aligned and centered. Once these things are checked, move towards the rim. If it’s bent or curved, fix that because that may be causing the squeaking sound. 

#2 Clean Your Bike Parts

After inspecting your bike parts, if you notice any contamination from the build-up dirt and grease or rust, the first thing that you need to do is thoroughly clean your bike parts so they don’t get contaminated and worsen the squeaking sound. 

It’s pretty easy, you need to scrub away the dirt and grease residues. In some cases, the scrubbing is not much help since the harshness of the scrubbing can wear out an old brake pad setup.

You can even use a degreaser to clean the brake pads or rim, but it’s not necessary, as liquid soap and water are just enough to remove the dirt and grease.

Avoid using chemicals while you clean your bike, as it can cause contamination.

Remember to wear gloves when cleaning the bike’s disc since the oil on your hands from the built-up grease can contaminate the pads.

You can also use isopropyl alcohol as it evaporates quickly and does not leave a residue. 

Cleaning the Bike Rotor

To clean the bike rotor, you need to grab a dry, clean cloth and a brake cleaner or alcohol. Put the alcohol on a clean towel or rag and wipe it on the bike’s disc rotors; you can even remove it from the wheel. 

After cleaning the dirt, wipe away the excess fluid from the rotor with a dry cloth. Make sure you don’t put alcohol over the bearings since the bearing grease can dissolve and shorten the life of the bearings.

To clean the braking rim and brake pads, just take a brake cleaner spray and wipe them with a clean towel. 

» Read my blog post: How to Remove Rust From Bike Chain?

#3 Wipe Brake Pads Dry

After you have cleaned your bike parts, including the brake pads, make sure to wipe clean the excess oil from the degreaser.

Or else, if you use water or soap to clean them, wipe them dry with a dry rag or cloth so you do not contaminate them again. 

#4 Realign the Brake Pads or Tighten Loose Parts

Accurate alignment of the brake pads is the most important part because, without that, they will make a squeaking noise or wear out quickly.

It’s important to center the bike brakes and examine if your bike brakes are sitting at an equal distance from the rim. 

To check that, you can even squeeze the brake and watch if the brake pads are making contact at the same time or if one pad pushes the rim across the other pad.

To strengthen the bike brake, loosen the bolt at the back and then realign the brake and tighten the bolt again.

Center the Caliper

After the brakes have been aligned properly, you need to see if the caliper is perfectly centered or not. Check the caliper’s alignment by loosening the bolts that hold the cable, then squeeze the brake calipers a little. 

If you think the caliper is still rubbing, then repeat the process until you get it in the right position. Once it is in the correct position, move on to the alignment of the brake pads.

The bike’s brake pads should be positioned in the center of the braking surface. 

The braking pads need to be in line with the braking surface. If they are too high, they will continue to touch the tire and eventually make a hole in it. If they are too low, they will develop a lip and hold the brake pad against the rim.  

To align the brake pads, undo the bolt on the brake pads and then carefully tighten them as you hold the brake against the rim.

Once you have aligned the brake pads, spin the wheel and check if the brake pads are aligned with the braking tracks all the way around.

#5 Ensure the Bike Wheel Is Rightly Aligned

Checking the alignment of the wheel is another important factor. If the wheels aren’t properly fitted in their frames, then this might be the reason why you keep hearing these squealing sounds.  

You need to ensure that the bike wheels are properly planned in their dropouts or chainstay. This can be a bit challenging if you run a wheel with a quick-release skewer that doesn’t thread properly to the frame.

» This could also be something for you: Hardtail Vs. Full Suspension Mountain Bike

#6 Straighten the Rotor

If you have already tried dozens of times to align the calipers properly, but are still not in the center, the problem lies in the rotor. This means that the rotor is bent and has a dent. 

To inspect, first look through the bike caliper, spin the bike wheel, and check when the brake pads make contact with the bent part of the rotor.

You can also place the white paper under the caliper to quickly identify the problem. 

To adjust this, apply the brakes gently and loosen the mounting bolts. After that, you should reposition the pad or the bike’s disc brake mount. This will create a precise connection point to the bike. 

You can also utilize a truing fork to assist you in fixing the bent rotor into its place. Doing this takes a lot of time and patience, so remain gentle and slowly fix the rotor. 

#7 Use Sandpaper on Disc Pads

If the disc pads are contaminated or glazed, they become even harder to clean because you then have to remove the whole gear from the bike.

To help with that, you can use sandpaper to rub on the contaminated or glazed parts to loosen the dirt or grit slightly. 

If the squeaking sound in your bike brakes is due to the bad brake blocks, you can fix that by picking the grit off the blocks and using sandpaper to loosen and smoothen the surface. 

FAQs

Can You Use Wd40 on Squeaky Bike Brakes?

Wd40 is not meant to be a disc brake cleaner, it’s typically meant to be used as a lubricant for homey usage. Even if you clean the brakes with Wd40, it can appear to be quite dangerous because when you spray it, the chemicals in it leave a slippery residue which can reduce friction. Moreover, that can also cause contamination over time. 

Does Brake Cleaner Stop Squeaking?

In a case where your bike brakes squeaking is only caused by little contamination of built-up dirt and oil, then the bike cleaner can stop the squeaking. You only have to clean the brake pads, rims, and other bike parts. However, in other cases, such as uneven pads and the wrong alignment of the bike brakes, the brake cleaner can not stop the brakes from squeaking. 

Why Do My Brakes Squeak When the Pads are Good?

If your brakes are still squeaking even after your pads are good or new, it is because new pads are sometimes coated with a protective layer that can cause a squeaky noise. This noise goes away after a few rides once that layer wears away. This is known as the bedding process. Bedding helps the brake pads to run smoothly and improve the braking power. 

Conclusion

Overall, you must be well informed about how important it is to keep your bike clean after regular rides. One of the main causes of brake squeaking is contamination, followed by unevenly worn brake pads. 

To avoid these annoying sounds on your bike rides, try implementing a habit of taking care of your bike parts because that is the first step. If they remain in top condition, they are less likely to get squeaky. 

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