What’s The Remedy For Squeaking Disc Brakes?

WordPress is not happy with ‘squeaking’ (is it not an American English word?) and suggests instead ‘squealing’. Either would work. The latter implies emotion as well as mechanics and bearing in mind my propensity to give my bicycles a name and human characteristics, perhaps that’s the one I should be using. Anyway, Wanda, my 12-month -old Koga WorldTraveller bicycle currently has a squeaking / squealing front disc brake. Here she is at the start of yesterday’s very hilly ride which took us on a very hilly, at times very steep (up and down) ride around Hebden Bridge and Todmorden where her brakes were certainly put to the test. The front brake was also very loud!

(The photograph of the disc brake itself at the top of this post was taken in June 2019 incidentally.)

I came home and, rather than ask Google, I asked Twitter for the solution. As you can see, there were a range of responses, some more useful than others…

If a response is appropriate, I have put it in square brackets:

@BarryEnsten: Hydraulic or cable, also is it only when you apply them. Discs tend to squeal / grind when they are wet


@rich_surr: Are they ready to be changed how many miles on them, and they are notorious for squeaking in the wet ?

[The pads were replaced during Wanda’s recent service in early June]

@robpatrick: New bike

@tringmotion: Wipe rotors with disc rotor wipes and use neat washing up liquid between the pads and rub like grinding stones, then wash off.

@velovolupte: Ditch them, use regular brakes

@BikeRider365: Rim brakes?

@chrisgerhard: Not braking works…

@muddydwarf: Clean the rotors with a degreaser. Give the pads a rub with emery paper to remove any glaze. A drop of copper slip on the BACK of the pad where it meets the piston.

[What is ‘copper slip’?]

@Redveee: Usual solution to stop squeaks is a drop of oil

[That was posted with a shocked face emoji – I think @Redveee is joking but I’m sure that solution has been tried… Similarly:]

@thegarypayne: Grease? Or is that too simple.

[@SportiveLakes makes the appropriate comment that such a tactic “Stops the squealing but nothing else”]

@gazza_d: Rub a candle on the rotors. Seriously I’d try new pads and thoroughly clean and degrease the rotor. Also are the rotors running true?

[I think so; as I said, the bike was only recently serviced]

@RideWozzy: Ha, could be a good thread. My bingo card has spray, new pads, new disc, check for cable leaks, contamination and gas stove. Am sure there will be outliers involving fruit or something.

[My response on Twitter: “Spray? Gas stove?” To which @RideWozzy clarifies: “Google ‘bike disc brake anti squeal’ plenty of cleaners around. Some say contamination on pads can be burnt off (not tried).” And then: “Sorry, I did try. I burnt my fingers and it still squealed. I remember now.”]

@cookson_mike: New pads. My back brake must have got contaminated with something, tried cleaning the disc and pads with proper cleaner, but it was still dead squealy. New pads fixed it straight away.

@d0bb: Local bike shop. Whenever I do anything with my disc brakes I seem to create squeaking.

@ColDuGrinton: Replace them with real brakes. Sorted.

@tim0000: rim brakes

@querkyname: Take the pads out and rub with sandpaper to remove the glaze.

@giles_pirata: Stop using sintered pads

[Not sure why there is an assumption that I am. Are they notorious for squeaking, whatever they are… The comment provokes this response from @jivetolkein: “This on road bikes. They donโ€™t get water and mud in them so much – organic are quieter and bite better, but donโ€™t last longer off road”]

@chunkiebailey: How much did you pay for that bike?

[Not as much as I pad for my car a few years ago and that has had issues with squeaking brakes as well. Is this a factor?]

@KarlOnSea: Replace them with rod brakes. This technology is the future.

[I think that is a joke… As a follow up, @GuvnorsAssembly also suggests “…or drums”]

@ScouseTimes: Sounds like you need a new bike….


@waterguardUK: Fit shim between calliper piston and break [sic] pad properly. Make sure calliper assy. is not sticking.

@Asphalt_World: Normally a clean and recentering them does the job.

@handysnaks: You could always try what we do with car and motorcycle brakes and add a little smear of copper grease to the โ€˜backโ€™ of the brake pad.

[That mention of copper again. Interesting…]

@elenbendduen: Do what my other half did and put oil on them … Not his best moment

[Better keep that quiet Elen…]

@sparrowlegs77: Are your discs or rotors contaminated Andrew

[I don’t think so. The bike is cleaned regularly. Well, fairly regularly, but the squeaking continues…]

@farnie: Wd40 but has the downside of impairing braking

[Another comedian…]

@seantresilian: @muc_off disc brake cleaner & maybe remove pads & spray with same. A light sanding may be necessary of them

@joesb: New bike

@ivor_hewitt: Brake less

[Not an option if you live in the Calder Valley]

So there you have the combined wisdom of Twitter. If nothing else, an eclectic reponse! Thanks to all of those who responded, irrespective of the value of your contribution to the debate. I’m now off to consult Google to see if it agrees with any of you…

UPDATE: I went for this… And it appears to have done the trick. (It also smells rather wonderful!) is 100% free but donations are always welcome and help pay the bills. The easiest way to support us is via PayPal:

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