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Brakes squeel like a banshee in the morning!

Howdy all.

I am working on selling my '97 Volvo 850 sedan. It is a good car with a few quirks. It seems that when I first start the car up in the morning my brakes squeel at a really high note and incredibly loud. This happens usually only in the morning when I haven’t driven it for a while.

I got new brakes, new rotors, and the sound is still there. It goes away after my first 1 or 2 stop signs, but it is ear splitting and is going to make selling this car very difficult. The car does not vibrate, there are no lower tones.

I have the feeling it has something to do with moisture, but my reliable brakes and tires repair shop seem to not see anything, though the noise is gone usually by the time I would get to them.

Not certain if this note helps or is a red herring, but I seem to go through my rotors (warping, getting that low tone and vibration throughout the car) faster than seems reasonable. I changed them 2 years ago and 3 months ago, and I only go over and back a mountain road (CA-17) once a week.

Any thoughts on this? Thanks to you all!


I don’t know Rt 17, but if you are using the brakes a lot when going down hill, that is likely the issue. You may need a little more robust pads. Try a new local INDEPENDENT shop. Don’t visit a chain or the dealer.

If you have manual and have long down hill runs, I would stingily suggest learning to down shift.

There are times that it seems the only fix is to use a different brand of pads. Usually OEM brand pads have fewer such problems.

Good Luck

Sounds like you are getting a very light coating of rust on the rotors or pads or both. This happens to most cars especially if kept outdoors and especially if not driven every day. The rust rubs off the first couple of times you use the brakes. On my car, it happens for the first stop or two and is not noisy enough for me to bother with. If it really is very loud, about the only way to stop it is to try different brands of pads. Your mechanic probably won’t hear it unless you leave it overnight with him on a rainy night, and get him to leave it outside.

As far as the rust goes, then why would it make the noise every single morning? I would not think a layer of rust would form over night enough to cause this problem, especially as I am driving every day. If a single night on relatively new brakes / rotors is enough, then that makes sense, but it was the same issue before and after the new brakes / rotors. Even if it is a brand issue, I would think it would take a while for it to show.

Other than rust on the brakes / pads, is there any other place this could come from?

One night can be enough. It’s so thin you might not even see it. Microscopic, in fact. It’s one of the drawbacks of banning asbestos and going to ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads. Rust is the only thing I can think of that would go away after a couple of stops and not come back the rest of the day. Other sources of squeaking, such as a loose brake pad or other loose hardware, or problems with bearings and such, would not act that way.

Alright, sounds good! My brake guys (yes, they are a chain), will give a free inspection, and I know the guy there so he won’t try to sell me up when my stuff is good, so I figure I can take it in and bring up this fact, see if there is anything they can do for it.

That being said, is there any cure for this? Is it just cheap pads and I need a different brand?