Ask MBAction: Stop My Squealing Brakes


Q: I’ve heard a clean bike is a happy bike, but every time I clean my bike the brakes squeal like crazy. I’m guessing I’m doing something wrong. Can you guys offer any suggestions?

Sam Wilson
Brevard, North Carolina

A: It sounds like you’re contaminating your brakes when you wash your bike. On a bicycle with disc brakes, it’s important to keep your rotors and brake pads free of any soaps, oils or cleaners. If any of these sprays or liquids get on the brake rotors, it can cause your brakes to squeal or even fail. Next time you clean your bike, cover the discs with a clean rag to prevent them from becoming contaminated.

If your brakes have become contaminated, it’s possible you can fix them. Start by removing your front wheel and then your brake pads. Use a clean rag, isopropyl alcohol or a contact cleaner to wipe the rotors clean. Next, use fine-grit sandpaper or a file to clean the residue off your brake pads. If this step doesn’t work, your next move is to replace your brake pads.

Thanks for writing in, and happy trails!

Read MBA’s Story: How To Silence Those Honking Brakes

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