Disc brake noise? How to fix it

Disc brakes are superb when they perform as they should. Quietly. But sometimes, if they get contaminated, that dreaded disc brake noise or squeal happens and they can be the most annoying things on your bike. 

What Causes Brake Squeal?

There are a variety of reasons that cause your brakes to start making noises. However, it is usually because the braking surfaces have become contaminated. Most commonly when you get some form of oil or lubricant onto your disc or pads when working on your bike.

Some things that will contaminate your disc brakes are:

  • Spraying them directly with any other form of lubricant
  • Washing lube from your drivetrain onto them when cleaning your bike
  • Oil or Brake fluid dripping onto them from elsewhere on your bike
  • Contaminated spray from wet roads
  • Touching the disks or pads with your bare skin
  • Using contaminated pads on a clean disc rotor and vice versa

How Do I Avoid Contamination?

Avoiding contamination is always best. Prevention rather than cure but it is not always easy to avoid overspray settling onto your discs. Cleaning your bike should be hassle free so you could invest in some disc brake covers like ones available from Muc-Off.  These will allow you to clean, protect and lube your bike with aerosols while preventing overspray.

Muc-Off disc brake cover

What Do I Do If My Brakes Are Already Contaminated?

If your Disc brakes have been contaminated and are making noise, don’t worry! You can clean most contaminations off your discs and pads with a good disc brake cleaner. We recommend Muc-Off Disc Brake Cleaner

  • Step 1: Put on some gloves
  • Step 2: Shake your can well then spray your entire brake area so pads and discs are treated
  • Step 3: Allow the cleaner to evaporate
  • Step 4: Wipe away any excess with a clean microfibre cloth 

If your pads are badly contaminated it may be necessary to remove your pads and lightly sand the surface of the pad to restore its colour then repeat the process above.

After cleaning  you will need to ‘bed in’ your discs and pads. To do this simply apply your brakes gently down a hill. You will find that the braking power will gradually increase and any noise should fade as you do this, leaving your brakes powerful and noise free!

What Else Can I Do To Get Rid Of Noise? 

Unfortunately, some pads are beyond saving, if they are too contaminated then the best option is to replace your pads. However when doing this it is very important to clean the disc thoroughly so that it does not contaminate your new pads.!

What If My Brake Pads Are Fine?

If your disc brake noise is not caused by contamination it may be your disc rotor is catching your pads as it spins. This is identified as a metallic scraping sound when the disc spins slowly. To resolve this the rotor may need to be straightened. Often called trued, using a specialist tool and/or your caliper/pads may need to be re-centred. We recommend this is undertaken by a qualified technician.

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