6 Reasons Why Your Brakes Squeak When You First Start Driving!

You do have to be careful when presuming the brakes only squeak when you first start driving. Road and engine noises can drown out squeaking brakes when driving at higher speeds (unless your vehicle is electric). 

To jump straight to the point, you may read elsewhere that moisture can cause a brake squeak in the morning or even when the brakes squeal until warmed up. But this is really rare and usually only in very humid environments. The most common cause of brake squeaks is generally an item in the brake system failing or something in contact with the rotating brake rotors that shouldn’t be there. We will touch on this in more detail below. 

What Causes The Brakes To Squeak When First Driving? 

Although the problems below will point you toward brake squeaks until the car is warmed up, no brake issue should be ruled out until inspected.

The items on this short list are the most common I find when inspecting this type of issue:

Worn brake rotors

When brake rotors are worn, pads in good condition catch on the worn lip around the edge of the rotor. This rubbing of the two causes a squeak when braking. Because both pads and rotors are metal-based compounds, as the brakes heat, it is normal for the squeaking to go away.

The only way to fix this type of issue is to replace the pads and rotors or have the surface of the rotor skimmed so there is no lip. Remember, rotors can only get skimmed if they are within wear tolerance. Replacing the pads and rotors is a much simpler fix. 

Sticking brake caliper

When brake calipers fail, they seize on, which means the brake pads are engaged either fully or partially on the rotor. Usually, only one caliper will stick, so you can still drive. However, you’ll hear a squeaking noise as the rotors force around as the wheel rotates. When the brakes get hot, the caliper can release itself, and you can drive as normal without any squeaking.

Most commonly, it is a faulty caliper piston seal or a collapsed brake hose causing the issue. Replacing the offending item is the correct course of action. Taking the caliper off, bleeding the brake fluid, and rewinding it so the piston seal fully retracts can sometimes fix a sticking brake caliper issue without replacing any parts.

Damaged backing plate

Behind the brake rotors is a shield called a backing plate, which stops debris, dirt, and water from getting onto the brakes. Impact damage from debris in the road can force the backing plate to touch the rotor, and as you drive, you’ll hear a metal-on-metal squeaking noise. The noise sometimes disappears after a few miles because of the heat generated; the backing plate starts to melt, and it no longer touches the rotor.

The backing plate is easy to manipulate with your hands or a screwdriver to push it out of the way of the brakes. Sometimes, the backing plate will require removing and replacing, but that is rare.

Dirt or debris stuck in the brakes

A piece of dirt or debris stuck between the pads and rotor can initially cause a squeak when driving or braking. I most commonly found small rocks between the backing plate and the rotor. As parts of the rock is ground away over time, the squeak stops, and the rock relodges itself in a new position when you stop driving. The squeaking cycle starts over again the next time you drive.

Solving the issue will mean you must strip the brakes down to remove the offending item altogether. However, sometimes, you can use a screwdriver to free the offending object if caught between the backing plate and the rotor.


Moisture on the brake rotors encourages surface rust even as quickly as overnight in cold, damp conditions. If you take a look through car rims on a parked car after it’s been raining at night, you can spot the surface rust appearing. This surface can cause a squeak as you drive but usually clears after a few minutes.

Brake dust build-up

As the brake pads wear, they release brake dust, which, when hot, sticks to the ears of the brake pads. Over time, this dust builds up until it catches the brake rotors when braking. Because the dust is a metal-based compound, you get a nasty squealing noise under braking. Once the brakes warm, this brake dust stops squeaking on the rotor. 

This silly problem will come and go depending on the brand or type of brake pad. Some tend to give off more dust than others. To properly fix this issue, you will need to remove the brake pads, clean up the caliper carrier, and apply copper grease to the ears of the pads. Usually, you will not hear the brakes squeaking because of this issue again for a very long time. 

surface rust on brake rotor

Why Do My Brakes Squeak Only in the Morning?

Brakes squeaking in the morning is a fairly common thing, and the cause is simple: condensation. The condensation on the disk’s surface and pads overnight encourages a tiny amount of surface rust. The surface rust gets removed when braking a couple of times.

Do not apply anything to the brake disk surface to try and remove the rust, such as WD-40. It will have a different effect than you think it will. It will cause damage to the brake pads, causing them to overheat and become brittle.

If you are concerned, you can use a brake and clutch cleaner and some blue roll to try to clean up the brake disks; this is one of a few products that will not damage the brakes. But it is much easier to drive the car and press the brakes quite hard a few times to clear any rust on the disks.

Is It Safe to Drive With Brakes Squeaking?

Inspecting or having your brakes checked as soon as you notice the brakes squeaking is essential. A squeaking noise can be the first indication you’ll get to notify you there is a brake problem. Once you have inspected the brakes, you will know if you need an urgent repair or if it is safe to continue driving. Until they are examined, it is not safe to drive with squeaking brakes! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Brake Squeal Until Warmed Up Normal?

A brake squeal isn’t normal in 99% of scenarios. Therefore, it isn’t something that should be ignored unless it is confirmed that there isn’t anything wrong with the brakes.

Why Do Brakes Squeak When Driving Slowly?

The brakes squeaking when driving slowly or even in reverse is typical sign the brake pad wear indicators are catching on the rotors or the brake pads are worn out and are now scoring on the lip of the rotor. Either way it is usually a sign the brakes are worn.


When you first start driving, a brake squeak should not be ignored or presumed not to be a severe fault because without inspecting the brakes, how can anybody be sure? 

As much as you may want moisture on the brake rotor to be the cause, it probably won’t be. If you want to be sure, have your brakes inspected by a mechanic who will confirm if you have an issue; if you look around for, you may even find garages that offer free brake inspections.

My name is Tom although my friends call me Tommy. Messing around with cars and bikes has always been a hobby of mine even from a young age. So I made it my day job 17 years ago. I am a fully qualified mechanic as you would expect. I've worked in all different areas of the motor trade, valeting, panel beating, engine repairs, I'm sure you get the idea. I enjoy sharing my wealth of knowledge and experience with others, which is the reason I spend a lot of time here writing for this website.

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