Common Causes of Brake Noises While in Reverse

The brake system on a Jeep.
What You'll Need
Disk break caliper grease
Anti-rattle clips
Shim grease
What You'll Need
Disk break caliper grease
Anti-rattle clips
Shim grease

When you hear any kind of brake noise, you can safely assume there is an issue. The noise may or may not be an indication of a serious brake issue, however, whether the issue is minor or severe, it still requires attention and investigation. When you hear brake noise while your car is in reverse, this can be a sign that there is one of a few possible issues occurring.

Clicking Noises

A common noise heard from brakes while a vehicle is in reverse is clicking. Most commonly, this clicking noise can be attributed to the brake pads moving or shifting into the new direction of travel. A repeated noise, however, is likely caused by too much movement between the surfaces of the pad abutments and caliper. This noise does not necessarily mean there is a larger issue going on. You can minimize and often eliminate this clicking noise by applying a disk brake caliper grease.

Apply only to the sliding parts of caliper and NOT to the pad friction material. The grease should lubricate the caliper slides and help eliminate the noise. After applying the grease, you should investigate further if you still hear it at the same frequency or level as before.

This clicking can also be caused by a lack of anti-rattle clips. During your brake change these clips were removed and possibly never replaced, particularly if you performed your own brake change and didn't have a replacement set. Simply buy some new clips and put them back on your brakes to solve this issue.

Squealing – Wear Tabs

Squealing and squeaking when driving in reverse can be caused by several different issues, so after investigating one issue you should research more if the sound still persists.

If your vehicle is not new or does not have many miles on the brakes, then the first thing you should check is your wear tabs. If your brakes squeal in both forward and reverse, these may be the source of the problem. Your wear tabs, located at the end of the brake pads, can rub against the rotor to create this noise, and this can be an indication that your brakes need replacing.

Squealing – Check for Metal

Sometimes, squealing occurs when metal touches metal. The next thing to check is between your rotors and pads. If any small fragments or pieces of metal are between these two parts, the effect will create a squealing or squeaking sound. By cleaning the rotors and pads, you might be able to free any fragments causing the noise.

Squealing – Grease Shims

If your vehicle is newer or you have already checked the wear tabs, the next thing to do is check your shims to see if they need greasing. The shims, attached to the back of the brake pads, need to have lubrication. Shims should have a light layer of grease applied on either side to eliminate any movement problems causing noise.

However, if the pads didn't come with grease when they were installed, lubrication may not be the solution and may actually cause problems. Also, do not put too much grease in these areas or you risk creating a large, sticky build-up as the grease ages.

Squealing – Resurfacing Rotors

If the previous methods have not helped, you can take a more extreme measure to eliminate the squealing by lightly sanding your rotors. Since you must take care to be sure the rotors are sanded evenly across the entire surface, lest you risk issues with brake pulsation, this is best left to a professional during a brake check.

Brake Noises While in Reverse FAQ

How do I stop my brakes from squeaking when I back up?

There are many different reasons why your brakes might squeak. Usually, squeaking brakes are an audio signal that something is worn out or damaged and needs to be replaced or fixed.

Most commonly, squeaking in brakes is caused by worn-out brake pads, debris stuck between the brake pads and rotors, or a lack of lubrication.

To stop the squeaking, you will need to fix the problem that is causing it. Remove the brake pads and rotors from the car to examine them and remove any debris that may have accumulated between and around them.

Inspect the rotors for signs of wear. The rotors should be smooth, not jagged.

Also look at the brake pads, which should be squishy and cushioning. If they are thin and compressed, it's time to replace them.

Why do my brakes squeak when backing up in the morning?

If you notice your brakes squeaking in the mornings as you back out of your driveway but you don't really hear any noises any other time, this might not be an indication of a problem like worn brake pads.

Sometimes, squeaking brakes are caused by moisture that accumulates overnight. The same moisture that makes the grass dewey can also cause your brake pads and other brake parts to get a little bit damp, which can create a squealing noise when you apply those brakes early in the morning on your way out of the house.

The noise is actually caused by rust, which can build up in a thin layer even overnight. Driving the car will wear off this rust, which is why you don't hear the squealing in the brakes when you drive later in the day.

The best and only real way to fix this problem is to park your car indoors.

Can I spray WD-40 on my brakes to stop squeaking?

Squeaking brakes is one of the most common problems car owners will face. Many different things can cause brakes to squeak but ultimately, all of them are created by the friction of the brakes rubbing against the tires.

Brakes work by creating this friction but the friction causes heat and this can cause the noises you hear. WD-40, that seemingly miracle formula, can lubricate brake pads and rotors and reduce that squeaking noise.

Apply WD-40 to brakes regularly and it will actually help extend the life of the brakes and reduce any squeaking noises you hear.

Can you spray brake cleaner on rotors?

Cleaning your brakes removes debris from rotors and pads, which can reduce squeaking noises.

Brake cleaner is designed to be used on all parts of the brakes. That includes the pads, the rotors, the lining, the drums, and so on.

When you apply brake cleaner, it should be sprayed directly on the front and back of the rotors. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the rotor after the cleaner has been applied.

Specialized brake cleaner is formulated to work on brakes and it's made to cut through grease and other substances brakes commonly come into contact with. However, plain soap and water also work to clean brakes.

How can I lubricate my brakes?

Brakes often squeak and squeal due to a lack of lubrication. The friction of the brakes causes the noise.

The best way to lubricate brakes is with brake lubricant, which is specially formulated for just this purpose. Apply a small amount of this lubricant to the back of the brake pads and this should reduce those annoying noises.