Creaking brakes...or, your preferred brake lube

My sister has a 2007 VW Rabbit. Sometimes I do maintenance on it to save her $$ from taking it to the local stealership.

Last week she said she heard a creaking sound when she applied the brakes. I test drove it and found the creaking sound only happened when releasing the brakes from a stop while the car was facing downhill. Weird.

Anyhow, I figured the creaking had something to do with tension/load on the calipers (from stopping the car rolling downhill) being released. It sounded like it was coming from the front, so I took the front wheels off and lubed the areas I thought might be producing the creaks, ie the metal “ears” on the brake pads that seat in the carrier brackets, and the caliper slide pins.

But first for fun, I read many internet posts offering various opinions on whether or not to use anti-seize on brakes. I’ve always applied a dab of anti-seize on the pad ears, and sometimes a bit on the pad backs, always being careful to stay well away from the friction surfaces. But I lost track of how many posts I read warning NEVER to use anti-seize anywhere on brakes. LOL, because when I took the VW brakes apart, it was obvious the VW tech had (carefully) used anti-seize in the correct places. But not on the pad ears, and I could see from the shine where the ears were rubbing, so I applied small amounts there.

One place anti-seize should never be used is on the caliper slide pins, so I used silicone brake grease there, and put the brakes back together and test drove the car. Creak gone. I suspect most likely it was the caliper pins, which had some silicone brake grease but maybe not enough. Or maybe it was the pad ears, and the anti-seize took care of it.

Either way, problem solved. But I was surprised at the amount of misinformation on the Internet about never using anti-seize anywhere on brakes, when I’ve seen pros use it (correctly, in small amounts, in the right places) many times.

I guess the saying is true that half of what you read on the Internet is wrong. The problem is knowing which half.

Having said that, would be interesting to hear from others about their preferred methods & lubes for brake jobs.

Silicone lube on slide pins. Copper anti-sieze or brake grease on the pad tips and a smear on the back of the pad. Very thin smears.

The material anti-seize is made with may not be compatible with the brake system’s normally high temperatures. Brake grease is specifically designed for high temperature use. On my prior VW Rabbit, a vintage model , I’d sometimes get that sort of creaking sound when applying or releasing the brakes. I could usually stop it by washing off the disk surfaces w/a spray of water from the those. It seemed to always come from the front disc brakes, and not from the rear drums. In my VW’s case I think it was a combo of brake dust and dust from the road getting on the rotor’s surface causing it. Interestingly, I’ve never had that problem on my Corolla, which has a very similar brake configuration. Perhaps the material the brake pads are made of contributes.

I use synthetic brake grease on pad tips and slides and was using brake squeak stop on the back of pads years ago. but stopped and use a little copper anti- seize. the brake squeak stop can gum up on the piston.

Temperature-resistance in brake lubes is another common topic for fun debate. You’ll find people saying that Permatex aluminum anti-seize isn’t high-temperature enough for use on brake pad backing plates. When in fact it’s rated to 1600 degrees F. At that temp, steel is glowing cherry-red. If any passenger car ever got its brake pad backing plates cherry red, the driver had bigger problems than his brake lube.

And speaking of copper vs. aluminum anti-seize, the VW dealership used aluminum anti-seize, not copper. We’re not driving the 24 hours of Le Mans here. Nothing wrong with copper, but aluminum in the appropriate circumstances is fine.

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I us Syl-glyde to lube brake glides , pins and back of pads.

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I have used ant-seize on brakes before but now I just buy a new hardware kit and put the brakes together dry. No problems this way.

I use silicone brake lube on pins and pad ears and even under the clips. A slight film on the end of pistons and on the back of the outside pad where it contacts the caliper. On drums I put it on the dust shield where there is movement from the shoes. To not lube brakes in the snow belt is going to lead to problems almost 100% of the time.

I use grease out of an old can of wheel bearing grease that I bought years ago when packing the hubs on my old Jeep CJ. I figure bearings are under pretty high temps, so ought to suffice. May be a mistake, but haven’t had any issues. I’ve used it at least the last 3 times I’ve done brakes. I basically try to put a little smear on anything that touches anything else, aside from the pad or shoe and disk or drum. Use the same thing on caliper slide pins.

That is one of the advantages of living in the south we can get by with things like that.

Brake-grease work-a-rounds probably would work for my grandma-like-driving manner where the most driving excitement is whether I find a place to park at the grocery store that doesn’t require backing up :wink: But for others? Depends on whether you’re ever be driving your car while descending down from the top of Pikes Peak I guess… lol …