Reviewed & Edited On 5 July, 2023
Hate that familiar, high-pitched screech that comes from your brake pedal? We know how annoying that squeak is.
So what causes the squeaky brake pedal and how do you fix the squeaking? The 6 most common reasons for squeaky brake pedals are dried-out brake pedal spring, loss of lubrication, loose brake cable, fatigued brake line, worn-out brake pads, or dirty drum brakes.
Some good news is that the issue can be fixable without spending too much money. And you can even do a DIY fix if you have the know-how.
Ensure The Squeaks Are Indeed From The Brake Pedals
Do ensure that the source of the noise is indeed the brake pedals. By following these simple steps, you’ll identify whether the squeaks are originating from your brake pedal system.
- Bring the Vehicle to a Stop: Find a safe and quiet location to park your vehicle.
- Press and Release the Brake Pedals: With the vehicle at a complete stop, begin the diagnostic process by pressing and releasing the brake pedals. Perform several cycles of pressing and releasing to observe any accompanying squeaks.
- Listen for Squeaking Sounds: Pay close attention to any noises that occur during the pressing and releasing of the brake pedals. Note if the squeaks are present when the brake pedal is being pressed, released, or both. This observation will help pinpoint the specific phase of the pedal’s movement that triggers the squeaking sound.
6 Reasons Why Your Brake Pedal Squeaks
1. Dried-out Brake Pedal Spring
The squeaky brake pedal is connected via a spring that releases it to its original position. The spring is located just above the pedal, though in most cases, the exact location may vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle. But generally, the spring can be found near the base of the brake pedal or within the pedal assembly housing.
The frequent use and temperature changes usually remove the protective layer of lubrication on the spring which can cause squeaks every time you apply or release pressure on the brake pedal.
WD-40 or white Lithium grease spray (paid link) will come in handy here as it can moisten the spring located just above the brake pedal. Just make sure that you are spraying right on it since it is difficult to locate and spray plenty so that it lasts for quite some time.
How to fix squeaky brake pedal caused by dried-out spring
When a dried-out spring is the culprit behind your squeaky brake pedal, here’s a simple solution to get rid of the squeaky brake pedal.
By applying grease to the spring, you can restore peace to your braking system. We recommend using a grease spray for its convenience and ease of application. Follow these steps:
Step 1) Locate the Brake Pedal Spring
Begin by identifying the brake pedal spring. You can find it beneath the pedal assembly, connecting the pedal to the braking mechanism.
Step 2) Apply Grease Spray
Once you have located the spring, it’s time to apply the grease. Grab your chosen grease spray and generously coat the spring. Ensure that you cover the entire spring with a sufficient amount of grease. The goal is to provide maximum coverage, ensuring all areas of the spring are treated.
Step 3) Allow Drying Time
After applying the grease, allow it to dry thoroughly. This will typically take a few minutes. During this time, refrain from operating the brake pedal.
Step 4) Test Your Brake Pedal
Once the grease has dried, put your brake pedal to the test. Engage the brake pedal multiple times to check for any remaining squeaks. If the squeaking persists, proceed to the next step.
Step 5) Reapply Grease if Needed
If the brake pedal continues to emit unwelcome noises, apply more grease to the spring. Repeat the process of spraying the grease and allowing it to dry before retesting the pedal.
2. Loss of lubrication
The pedal is connected to the pedal box via a wire which pushes the fluid through the master cylinder to stop the car. Over time the connecting area between the wire and pivot point becomes dry, the dried-out contact area is what makes squeaking noises upon pressing and releasing the brake pedal.
This is the most common reason behind the squeaks coming from the brake pedal.
The best and easy solution to this problem is to spray WD-40 or white Lithium grease spray on the point where the wire is connected to the pedal box. After that, the squeaks should stop bothering you if they were coming from this point.
3. Loose brake cable
Most modern brake cables are automatically adjusted if the disc brakes are used in the rear. However, there are many cars on the road that still have drum brakes in their rear wheels, if your car also has these brakes then there is a good probability that a loose brake cable is causing squeaks whenever you push the brake pedal.
Important note: In this case, the squeaks are not caused by the brake pedal in this case but are produced by a loose brake cable connected to the rear brakes.
Brake cables in cars that have drum brakes in the rear should be adjusted approximately every 20,000 miles, it is a simple procedure and you can even do it yourself. A tightened brake line provides a better feel to the parking brake and chances of brake squeaks are also reduced.
4. Fatigued brake line
You may not be able to notice a worn-out brake line even if you jack up your car. However, a fatigued or a strained brake line is also one of the most commonly occurring causes of brake pedal squeaks.
Especially true if your car has got more than a hundred thousand miles and never had its brake line serviced or replaced with a new one. The high pressure of brake fluid makes the brake lines weaker over time and at some point, they can rupture.
Most of the cars usually come with a sort of plastic skid plate attached to their underbody that also protects the brake lines. However sometimes the plate gets broken after hitting speed bumps or pebbles, therefore brake lines should be routinely inspected to check for any kind of wear & tear.
Always make sure that you get your brakes inspected whenever you go to a mechanic for routine maintenance. It’s definitely a good idea to change them if your car is old or it has been driven over a hundred thousand miles. New steel brake lines are affordable and are a good investment as ruptured brake lines are dangerous.
5. Worn-out Brake Pads
A worn-out brake pad can cause brake squeaking. When brake pads wear down, they can produce a high-pitched squealing sound. Brake pads are intentionally designed with a metal indicator that emits a warning noise when they approach their minimum thickness.
As the brake pad wears down, it rubs against the brake rotor, causing a squealing sound. This noise is an indication that it’s time to replace the brake pads.
Additionally, if the brake pads become thin enough, the pads and rotors can make direct metal-to-metal contact, resulting in a loud grinding or shrill noise. At this point, you definitely need to replace worn-out brake pads to prevent further damage to the rotors.
6. Dirty drum brakes
Drum brakes get clogged with soot and dust created due to the friction between the brake shoes and the drum. Part of the reason is that these brakes are enclosed in a drum which makes them accumulate grime over time.
The soot can compromise the functionality of the drum brake which in turn can make the brakes sound squeaky. The brake pedal is sometimes perceived as a source of these squeaks when in fact it is the rear brakes.
You can clean your car’s drum brakes by yourself, just take off the wheel and give a slight thud to the brake and the top cover will come off. Use a brake spray cleaner to clean the inside of the cover and the brakes, apply a bit of grease on each point so you don’t have to go through the hassle again.
Final Notes on Fixing the Causes of Squeaky Brake Pedals
Always remember to start with the most basic stuff and then move on to complicated parts. If you have tried all of these things and the squeaking still continues/returns, then you’re better off taking your car to a certified mechanic. Tell him about all the things you have tried so that he gets a clearer idea of what would be wrong with your car.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.