When your brake pads start to squeak and squeal horribly, it’s probably because the metal behind the pads has become exposed through wear. It’s time for a replacement. Without realising it, all four of mine had gone at the same time (see above for an idea of what they looked like).
There’s some really good videos on the Internet showing you how to replace the pads, and it’s certainly not a difficult job. The wear and tear on my pads was discovered a couple of months ago when I took my bike in for its 6-week service at Evans, and they only charged me £12 for a new set of pads. The difference is, as you would expect, quite amazing – as well as being critical for your riding safety. If your brakes are squeaking and rubbing, don’t leave it to chance. Have a look, and if they look like my old set here, get them changed.