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My brakes make a dragging and a squeal noise when I apply them. I know I need to get them checked, but is it my brake pads?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Breanne Boyle, Contributing Editor at It is probably your rotors. If the squeals are happening in the morning when there is dew or in the last few feet of a stop, this isn't as much of a concern. Because brakes are metal, sometimes the squealing just happens. Brake squeal is caused by vibration between the brake pads, rotors, and calipers. Having the brake rotors refinished or trued (machining a small layer of the metal away from the brake rotor to make it smooth and "true" again) and a thin layer of a silicone compound placed on the back of the brake pads are a great way to reduce the squeal if the semi-metallic pads are the culprit of the noise and not due to a worn out brake pad. Sometimes brake squeals are an indication that maintenance is required. Some common conditions that cause brake noise are: - Heat cracked or worn "un-true" rotors - Rough finish on resurfaced rotors - Loose fitting brake pads in the caliper - Lack of silicone compound on back of brake pad - Missing springs or anti-rattle clips that should be on the caliper or pad - Improper tightening sequence of lug nuts or caliper hardware So I would still take it to get checked.

Colleen McGee, Driving Instructor at Americas Driving School It likely is worn brake pads. It also may be the rotors. Rotors don't wear as quickly as the pads, but if they get too thin that will cause squealing. If you don't have thin rotors replaced, they are in danger of snapping apart, causing you to lose all braking power. When you have your brake pads replaced, make sure they check the rotors as well. Happy, safe driving, Colleen

Georgia Brown, Director of Education at National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) Yes, it could be just be the brake pads. Don't wait too long to have them checked and/or replaced if necessary. Worn brake pads can soon lead to worn brake cylinders. Georgia Brown

Amanda J. Pierce, MBA Carrie, Yes, do have a brake inspection if you wait to long your pads may be worn down too far to the point of needing your rotors replaced. If you are hearing these noises your rotors may be "too scarred" of not being able to have them resurfaced. Have your brakes inspected as soon as possible.

Audra Fordin, Owner at Great Bear Auto Shop Hi There Carrie, Women's intuition is usually spot on! Sure does sound like your brake pads. Mechanically yours, Audra www.women AUTO

Barb Petrey, President - DBK Enterprises Inc at Jiffy Lube They will check the pads when you have your brakes checked

Diane Larson, Owner/Manager at Larson's Service Hi Carrie, yep, Sounds like you may need BRAKE PADS, which are a safety item:) Please have them checked today - it could save you some money, if they are worn into the BRAKE ROTORS, by repairing before further damage! Have a Fun Day! Diane Larson

Laurie Sarno, Co-Owner at Super Girls Auto Hello Carrie- is sounds like it is most definitely your brake pads & you may have already damaged your rotors which will require replacement too- hope this helps - Thanks Super Girls Auto.

Lori Johnson, Owner and Instructor at Ladies Start Your Engines Dear Carrie, Definitely get them checked. Since brakes are a safety item it's best to be safe than sorry. It's hard to diagnose without hearing the sound. Lori Johnson

Pat Fleischmann, Director of First Impressions at Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair Thanks for your question...most brake pads have a built in squeal indicator (signals low brake pad). Knowing you already need your brakes checked would be a great time as you could be damaging the rotors if they are in desperate need of replacing. The dragging could be a faulty caliper or an adjustment or cleaning needed...caliper holds the brake pad in place. Seek attention soon, as it's your only defense in stopping your 5000lb vehicle an it's passengers!

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