Why do my brakes squeak only in reverse?

Owning a car, you tend to take every single unusual behavior seriously, and when you have reached that time of the year when your car starts making strange noises, you become concerned. You may notice some strange squeaking noises from your brake while reversing, however, this noise may not be from brake malfunctions as it can be caused by several reasons. 

This article explores the causes of brakes squeak only in reverse and how to stop your car from making this noise when reversing. Before diving into all this, we will explain the types of brakes to help you better understand the rest of this article and all the methods you can take to prevent this problem. 

Types of brakes

Various types of brakes and braking systems can be found in modern cars, but for this article, we would focus on service brakes. Services brakes are designed to slow down your car or help it come to a complete stop. There are two types of service brakes: disc and drum brakes.

Disc brakes

The working mechanism of the disc brake is quite easy. It uses calipers to press together pads on a rotor or disc. This action creates friction which is the force used to slow down your car or put it to a complete stop. Modern cars are designed with disc brakes and this is because they manage heat better, generate more frictional force, and are great under wet conditions. They are considered to be better than drum brakes. 

Drum brakes

Drum brakes have this heavy circular metal called a shoe and it is pressed against the rotating cylinder to slow down your car. Drum brakes are considered to be the less upgraded kind of brakes as they don’t perform well under intense and severe environmental conditions and they don’t work great with pressure. 


Why do my brakes only squeak in reverse?

You should get your car checked immediately if you hear a strange high-pitched noise when reversing your car. If you are on your own, it is best to identify the cause of this sound so that you can determine if your car can make it to the nearest auto shop or if it needs servicing on the spot. Here are some of the reasons brakes squeak only in reverse. 

Thinning brake pads

Your day-to-day use of your car can cause your brake pads to wear out. This means that eventually, you will need to replace them when they hit the “worn out brake pad” thickness. You will notice a squeaking sound if your brake pads have worn thin and in addition to this sound, you may also observe a mild vibration while braking or it takes more time to make your car slow down or completely stop.

Low-quality brake pads

An ideal brake pad contains all of its elements in the right proportion or quantity, hence it has the right weight and effect on your car. However, low-quality brake pads may contain way too much metal content as they are not accurately measured, this will make these brake pads heavy. When your brake pads are made with more metal, you will observe this squeaking noise. 

Contact between the brake pads and the brake calipers

Reversing your car may sometimes require you to move in different directions. When this happens a lot, your brake pads will come in contact with the brake calipers to produce a squeaking sound. The sound produced from this contract — which is not supposed to happen — is the common cause of this squeaking. 

Brake pad wear indicator bar


Wear indicators are found at the edge of brake pads, and they are designed to produce a squeaking sound when the layers of your pads are worn out. However, this rod can sometimes scratch the brake disc to produce a squealing sound. 

Not driving your car for a long time

If you leave your car exposed to moisture, air, humidity, and other environmental conditions, your brake pads will start to wear. This causes a squeaky noise when you move your car backward or forward. This is not a serious problem as the noise disappears after driving it for a while. 

Check the surfaces of components in contact

Another minor reason why your car may be making this unusual sound is that it has a metal, a piece of rock, or some other material stuck between the brake pad and the brake disc or between other metal components. This can be the reason why your brakes squeak only in reverse, however, you can get rid of this sound by cleaning your braking system properly. 

Lack of lubrication

The braking system of your is made of several metal components. These components eventually rust when not lubricated and they rub off on each other to produce an obnoxious squeaking noise. You can either use regular grease or you can use a high-temperature anti-seize lubricant. While these components need lubrication, be careful not to over-apply as it can cause them to accumulate a lot of dust. 

Leaving your car outside

When you leave your car overnight and it gets exposed to any form of moisture, you may hear this squeaking sound when backing up the next morning. This is not a serious issue, and driving for a while should eliminate the noise. 

How to stop brakes from squeaking when reversing

The method you use to get rid of this sound depends on the cause. Identify the cause of this squeaking sound and then follow one of the procedures below.

Clean your braking system


Cleaning your braking system will help you get rid of moisture, dirt, and objects that will produce and sound while reversing. The best cleaning agent to use is a brake cleaner and a wire brush for the various metal components. Clean rubber parts very gently or don’t clean them at all, this is to avoid any damage. 

Replace worn-out pads

One reason why you may hear squeaking noises is because of worn-out brakes. Your brake pads wear out after driving 30,000 to 40,000 miles, and your brake pad wear indicator will send a squeaking sound when this happens. Aside from eliminating this sound, it is important to replace brake pads when due for safety reasons. Your car takes longer to come to a stop with worn-out brake pads. 

Periodic lubrication

Metal parts rubbing off each other not only produces obnoxious squeaking noises but also damages the braking parts in contact. You should choose a synthetic lubricant that can withstand high temperatures, you can also consider products that are friendly with rubber components, these kinds of products contain silicone.


Your braking system is an important safety component of your car and when there is anything unusual about it, it is important to determine what causes this problem and how it can be fixed. When your brakes squeak only in reverse then your car then your brake pads may be worn out, two metal parts may be in contact, some parts need lubrication, or some components have become rusted. 

To fix or eliminate this sound, you need to identify the specific cause. You can consider periodically cleaning your braking system, lubricating braking parts from time to time, or replacing worn-out brake parts or other damaged components.