Squealey Healey

By Rich Locasso

Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine, September 1974

Content slightly edited for minor corrections.

Are YOU a member of the “Squealy Healey” set? Do your disc brakes emit that ear piercing squeal regardless of whether you try stopping slowly, quickly, pulsating the pedal, etc? BJ8 owners seem to experience more of this problem than owners of earlier models, but it can occur on all Healeys. Before buying a pair of ear plugs as a last resort, try some of the suggestions listed below. Some of them came from Road & Track and I can’t say if they will work for sure, but they are worth a try.

  1. Install stock anti-squeal shims, part no. BHA4195 for early Healeys and some 338’s, and part no. 27H2953 for 338-26705 and on. The shims fit between the brake pad and caliper piston. If already installed, check to see that installation is correct – the arrow on the shim must point in the direction of forward rotation of the wheel.

  2. Install brake pads which use a softer lining material. Road & Track at one time recommended Repco BMXAA pads as good anti-squeal pads which still retain longevity. For your nearest distributor, contact Repco parts USA, Inc., 6281. Chalet Drive, Los Angeles, CA90040.

  3. Make two or three hard stops from 70 mph. This is supposed to knock off the glaze on a pad and provide quiet stopping for a week or so.

  4. Take the pads out of the caliper and round the edges of the lining with a file to a 1/8” to 1/16” radius. A Vega owner reported to R&T that this modification eliminated all squeal from his brakes. While the pads are out, knock off any glaze with sandpaper or a file,

  5. Purchase and apply a blue colored fluid which is designed to be absorbed by the pad lining material and eliminate squeal. The fluid, named either “disc brake silencer” or “BT8,” is produced by Kent industries, 2424 S. Saybrook Ave., Los Angeles, CA90040. Write for your nearest distributor,

  6. Check the pistons in the caliper unit to see if they slide back and forth easily. Dirt or rust can cause sticky piston which will keep the pad pressed against the rotor after a brake application. Friction with the rotor causes a small heat build-up which will glaze the pads and cause squeal. The remedy is a caliper overhaul (a simple job buy an overhaul kit and do it yourself) and/or a new set of caliper pistons if they are rusty.

Hopefully, the above suggestions will eliminate some Squealy Healeys from the pack. If anyone has come up with some other solutions, let me know and I’ll pass them along.

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