Overheating Brakes: Symptoms, Causes, Solutions, and Prevention
Heat causes a lot of problems in your car. You may already know the common parts that can suffer extreme heat in your vehicle, such as your radiator, cylinder head, pistons, and exhaust inlets and outlets. But did you know that overheating can happen to your brakes as well?
Your car stops because of the friction that happens between your brake pads rotors. And where there’s friction, there’s heat. When the temperature gets critical, brake problems ensue.
Symptoms of overheating brakes
Overheating brake symptoms can manifest in different ways. Here are three signs to watch out for.
- Brake fade–when you step on the pedal, it feels spongy.
- Smoking brakes–you can see smoke coming from your wheels every time you brake. This problem is often accompanied by a burning smell.
- Squealing sound–your brake parts have become overly worn that metal is grinding on metal.
Causes of overheating brakes
Friction is the main cause of overheating brakes, but the issue can also be caused by a number of other factors including:
- Wrongly-installed brake pads
- Failing brake mechanism
- Overly-worn brake discs and pads
- Warped brake discs
- Poor-quality brake parts
- Stuck brake caliper guide pins
What to do when your brakes start overheating
When you start noticing the symptoms outlined above, your best course of action is to slow down and find a safe place to park. As you wait for your brakes to cool down, locate the nearest brake repair service you can find. Then drive to that location, making sure you drive slowly and carefully so your brakes don’t overheat along the way.
How to prevent your brake discs from overheating
Prevention is better than cure, so stick to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule to ensure your brake system is checked regularly and its parts replaced as required by your manufacturer. Likewise, keep the following in mind:
- Install only high-quality replacement parts
- Find a service station or mechanic that you can trust
- Replace the parts in pairs to ensure even wear
- Monitor the thickness of your brake pads and discs
Most manufacturers recommend the replacement of front brake discs between 30,000 and 40,000 kms, and rear rotors between 40,000 and 50,000 kms. However, different manufacturers will have different schedules. It also helps to take into account your driving style. If you’re an aggressive driver who often brakes sharply, you will need to replace your discs and rotors sooner.