How to Prevent Brake Noise in 6 Steps

Nobody likes to hear squealing brakes, not to mention the safety risks. If you’re experiencing brake noise on your truck, it’s likely caused by one or more of the following 6 issues. Keep reading to identify the problems and associated prevention of brake noise. 

1. Disc Brake Hardware

Caliper bolts, sleeve bushings and clips must be new or in like-new condition to prevent brake noise. Caliper bolts must not be bent and should be torqued to the manufacturers’ specifications. Caliper slides and bushings must be clean and lubricated with the manufacturers’ recommended brake caliper lubricant.

Clips in the caliper should be replaced with new ones during every brake job, and it’s best to look up and use the recommended caliper lube procedure. All manufacturers have very specific lubrication procedures. Lube is there to prevent vibration-induced noise, and failure to follow those specific lube procedures will result in unwanted brake noise.

2. Rotors

rotors and brake noise

Even new rotors should be treated to a non-directional finish, and is now recommended by all manufacturers. All rotors should be washed with soap and hot water before installation. Solvent type cleaners do not remove all machining dust, and drying with compressed air usually results in oil contamination of the friction material. It is also very important to make sure that the wheel flange behind the rotor is free of any rust or debris. 

Any rust or debris will cause rotor runout, which over time causes friction material to be transferred to the rotor surface. This will eventually cause noise due to extreme rotor thickness variance. It is also imperative to use an on-car lathe when recommended by  your vehicles’ manufacturer. Most manufacturers feel it is the only way to turn the rotors and not produce runout.

3. Pad Fit in the Anchor

Anchor brackets do wear out. The pad should fit very snug in the anchor bracket. The factory maximum clearance is only .010. Most squeal noise is caused by loose fitting pads in the anchor bracket.

4.  Proper Pad Break-In

Proper pad break-in is critical. Any time you perform a brake job, you should perform 30-50 moderate stops from speeds lower than 40 mph. There should be a minimum of a 7/10 of a mile cool down between stops. Excessive heating or hard use when new will assure that your brake pads become glazed and will break-in properly. This break-in procedure is outlined in many owners’ manuals.

5. Proper Lug Nut Torque

lug nut torque and brake noise

Proper lug nut torque cannot be stressed enough. Improper lug nut torque will cause rotor deflection. This deflection will (over time and about 2,000-3,000 miles) cause RTV resulting in noise and brake pedal pulsation.

This will not manifest itself until some mileage has accumulated on the vehicle, causing you to believe that the noise is not related to the original brake job. Always use a calibrated torque wrench and look up the proper wheel torque that you are working on.

6. Read the Service Procedure

It’s important to read the service procedure and all TBS’s for your vehicle. Some calipers are small and prone to vibration. The manufacturers know this and have published a lot of information on how to prevent brake noise and vibration on these vehicles. Domestic manufacturers also have many revised brake service procedures for the vehicle you are working on.

Information provided by Jay Buckley of Bendix.

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