Squeaking coming from rear wheel

Hi Experts,

Vehicle: 2011 Toyota Matrix XR 4-door hatchback

A few days ago I noticed that my car started making an odd, very noticeable squeaking noise.

The noise is coming from my rear left-hand wheel. It’s audible from outside the car, and from inside with the windows down.

The wheel makes a squeak each time it turns, so the frequency increases with higher speed. It’s audible from ~15km/h, below which the squeak is barely audible, up to ~70km/h, above which I can’t hear it any more, maybe because of wind. It makes a slightly different kind of squeak from the same spot when I’m backing up. There is no other noise of any kind (nothing unusual is heard with the engine on, and the car stationary). There are no other problems at all with the vehicle. It’s been about 4000km since my last oil change, I have that coming up soon, but I doubt that is the cause of this, since it’s coming from the wheel.

I have no idea what caused it - my theory is perhaps a pothole or running over a speed bump too fast.

Anyway, this doesn’t seem like that big of a problem, so maybe I could fix it myself.

Any idea what this could be, or how I should approach this?

What I can do is take off the wheel and take some pictures of the wheel and breaks to show you guys.

At 4 years old, maybe the brakes need to be inspected. The rear disk brakes have a wear indicator that may just be starting to touch the rotor, causing a small squeak.

+1 to busted’s post. That was my first thought too.
Let us know how you make out. We do care.

Oh, and I’d suggest having ALL the brakes checked. Well it’s on the rack. Sometimes a source of a noise (front vs. rear) can be deceiving.

Sounds like that could be it, but I don’t hear any more or less noise when I step on the breaks. Does that still make sense?

It’s awfully young for a bad wheel bearing.
Get the brakes checked first. Post the results.

Ok thanks for the input.

I just watched a YT video about break pads - apparently some of them work by squeaking once the pad reaches an “indicator”, which indicates that the breaks are nearly used. That same video said that the squeaking should stop once I apply breaks. I’m going to check that tomorrow, and if that happens it will be a clear sign that it’s the pads that need checking. On Thursday I’ll take the wheel off and look at the pads (kind of busy tomorrow). I’ll take some pictures then.

One thing I don’t understand is how a break pad can make a squeaking noise without the breaks being applied, but maybe that will make sense to me once I actually take a look at it.

I’d like to replace these myself. It looks like new pads cost $20-40 which seems reasonable, but I heard having them replaced is several hundred, which I really want to avoid.

The brake pads have to ride very close to the disc in order that the mechanical advantage of the hydraulic system is enough to allow the driver to stop a multi-thousand pound vehicle with just the strength of their leg. It’s like if you wanted to lift an elephant with just your own weight, you’d need a really long teeter-totter that was really short on one side of the pivot point, where you’d place the elephant, right? So if the disc was even slightly warped, that could cause a squeak without having to apply the brakes. It’s pretty easy to warp the discs by not paying heed to the manufacturer’s suggested method to torque the lug bolts for example. Have you had the tires changed or rotated and the shop had to remove the rear wheels? If so, they may have replaced them using an incorrect method, and that could be a cause for a warped disc. Just using the brakes can warp the discs too.

While the brakes are being inspected, it would make sense to check for any play (in any direction other than round and round) in the corresponding wheel bearing too. Also spin just that tire by hand in a quiet environment, listen carefully for any unusual noises. On most cars a spinning tire like that wouldn’t make any easily heard noise at all.

As far as replacing disc pads yourself, that’s a pretty common diy repair. But if you have never done it before, its far better to ask someone who has done it to help you. And do one side at a time, so you have the other as reference for how the seemingly uncountable parts fit together.

There was an article in Popular Mechanics magazine within the past few months showing step by step how a diy’er does a pad job. It’s always a good idea to refer to the car’s factory service manual when doing jobs involving safety too. Best of luck.

Have you had the tires changed or rotated and the shop had to remove the rear wheels?
No. I got the car 6 months ago, and then it was checked by 2 mechanics: one at the dealership and then one I took it to independently. Both reported that the car was in perfect condition.

I’m really hoping that this is not an issue with the hub being warped or damaged, as that sounds like something I would have to go to a shop to replace, and something that certainly would cost several hundred.

I’ve seen a bunch of YT videos on replacing the pads myself. They are all very similar, and it seems pretty straightforward. I haven’t even looked at it yet, but I suppose my question now is - I want to make sure the replacement pads are compatible. What’s the best way to get new pads? The shop? Online?

Is there a certain standard break pads are made to? Are there different kinds of pads? If so, maybe I should get pads that will last longer.

In answer to your latest post, it’s not the brake pad material itself that’s squeaking. It’s the wear indicator which is a little metal tab which is riveted onto one end of the brake pad backing.

A Matrix is pretty similar to a Corolla, so the pads are probably a high sales volume part. That means if you visit an auto parts store they’ll probably stock 3 or 4, maybe more, different brands which will fit. I’m just a driveway diy’er so no expert on brake pad technology. I usually buy the one that is priced somewhere in the middle, not the least expensive, and not the most expensive. I’ve never had any brake pad related problems doing that.

The expert mechanics here have mentioned they prefer certain brands and versions of brake pads to others, you might can find out which ones they like by using the search feature above.

Before changing the rear pads, measure them carefully to make sure they need to be changed. Usually the rear brakes pads don’t need changing as often as the front, so it is entirely possible your pads are fine and the squeaking is caused by something else.

Is this car an automatic? And do you know how many miles since the last time the rear pads where changed?