One of the most annoying sounds that your car can make is a squeal when you apply your brakes. Nothing is more irritating than announcing your arrival through this high pitched noise.
While you can start explaining to people that your car has a race car brake setup, (which often makes this noise due to not having enough heat either on the pads or disc) deep down you know that this is not the case and that something is just not quite right.
If after checking with your mechanic where the trained car doctor says that the pads and discs are fine, then this squealing is probably caused by a contaminated brake disc.
These contaminants are not usually visible through the naked eye because they are microscopic, but if you were ever to use a microscope to look at it, you would see some particles embedded on the friction surface of the rotor.
Before you go all wallet-emptying by purchasing new pads and rotors, why not try to clean them first.
We're here to help you with the how, so read on!
1. Brake cleaner
To tackle the brake disc cleaning process with tailor-made products, get yourself a can of brake cleaner. Most car part shops, Lazada or even Shopee would have them.
A lint-free cloth should also be prepared as you would not want to leave any sort of residue on the brake disc surface after spraying the brake cleaner on, but paper towels can be used as well. Apply brake cleaning fluid liberally around the brake disc area and wipe it down. If you overspray onto the calipers, make sure to wipe them down as quickly as possible. Don't forget the inner side as well as there is brake surface there too.
It's actually best practice to remove the disc from the wheel assembly and clean the discs while off the car, but that takes a different level of know-how and skill so like we said before, work with what you have and know.
2. Vinegar (Yes! Vinegar)
For those of you brave enough with enough skills to remove the brake discs from your car, you can try the household vinegar method. Household vinegar has strong degreasing properties which help remove grease and rust from the brake disc surface. They also help to breakdown hardened sludge which can be easily wiped off afterward. Some prefer to use commercial cleaners like Evapo Rust but vinegar is a much more environmentally friendly way of doing this.
The vinegar method requires you to soak your disc in vinegar overnight. You then use water and a soft surface brush to clean the disc. Some swear by it and have had successful results while others think that it will ruin the braking surface. Whether you wish to try this method is totally up to your discretion, let us know if you do.
If needed, scrub with steel wool or a wire brush, being careful not to score the surface of the rotor. Rinse and wipe dry.
3. Electrolysis (not recommended)
There's also a third method (electrolysis) but it involves electrical current and water so we highly recommend that you stay away from this. The electrolysis method basically turns rust back into iron, making the rotors look as good as new, but anything that involves electrical current and water requires some science on your part.
If this solves your squealing problem, then great, mission accomplished. If it persists, then a more in-depth investigation by a trained professional will have to be carried out.
To take the best care of brake components, you should avoid unnecessary sudden brake usage. Slow down gradually, and it will prolong the parts' life. As often as possible, clean the discs as it will ensure an uncontaminated braking surface. We also recommend not buying cheap brake parts, this is after all the part is tasked with stopping the car and that is not a component you want to be cheap with.