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I drive a 2010 Civic with about 80k kilometers on it and it makes a screeching or squealing noise when I drive.

I've checked other relevant posts + googling, and I suspect brakes, not the fan belt (because the noise is not constant). Here's what I've seen:

  • When driving, sometimes there's a noise (like an oscillation); most often when/after I turn right. It increases in frequency with the car velocity.
  • The noise occurs sometimes when driving straight or turning left.
  • The noise didn't occur in the rain.
  • Overnight, the probability of the noise occurring dropped.
  • The noise doesn't occur when I brake.
  • When reversing, there's a constant screeching noise.

Is it my brakes, or something else? I had a test-drive with a mechanic, and he suggested that it is indeed the brakes, most likely the rear ones. (I'll find out tomorrow when he opens it up.)

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The mechanic is most likely spot on. Disk brakes (assuming you have rear disk brakes) have what is called a squealer on them. When the pad gets thin enough, the squealer touches the rotor. As it rotates, the squealer ... well ... squeals. This is most likely the noise you are hearing. When you press on the brakes, the squealer is pressed harder against the rotor and quits making the noise.

  • If that's true, why would this only happen when I reverse or turn on one side? – ashes999 May 30 '15 at 22:10
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    @ashes999 - You said it "occurs sometimes when driving straight or turning left" ... that implies to me it happens not just when backing up. Squealers may not make a constant noise, but all indications you've given are pointing towards it being the brakes which are your issue. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 May 30 '15 at 22:14

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