The word fade sounds like something fading away, slowly disappearing, which doesn’t seem nice if it adds up with crucial components of your car, like brakes.
Brake fade is a common action in vehicles that use extreme braking conditions, like trucks and racing cars, but it is also common in regular cars, which could be a significant safety concern when driving your car.
That’s why it’s always important for you to know what brake fade is and how you can maintain brakes by following tips to prevent brake fade for a safer driving experience.
In this post, we will discuss What helps prevent brake fade and what to do when you get brake fade. So, let’s delve into this post and find out how.
What causes brake fade?
The braking system works on a wide range of components like calipers, pistons, pads, rotors, etc. So when you press the brake pedal, the calipers make the piston pushes the brake pads against the spinning brake rotors, which causes friction and slows down to stop the car.
In this process, the friction against the brake pads and rotors generates an excessive amount of heat that ranges from around 300°C to 800°C, which is enough to melt an aluminum sheet.
However, in normal situations, the brake pads don’t get this much hot because you only use them for a shorter period. Usually, vehicles that have a big load, like trucks, or the ones that repeatedly use the braking system, like racing cars, are more prone to face brake fade, but if you are in a long traffic jam or driving aggressively, using the brakes repeatedly can eventually cause brake fade in your vehicle.
Types of brake fade
Before we jump into preventing brake fade, we must know how many types of brake fade are there. Types of brake fade include:
Brake pad fade: Brake pads have a temperature limit. If you use your brakes too frequently and hard, they get too hot, and the pad material can break down, leaving a bumpy layer on the brake disc.
This causes the stuff that holds the pad together to release gas, creating a thin layer of super-hot gas between the brake pad and the spinning brake disc, which makes the brake pad slide through the rotors making it harder to stop the vehicle when you push your brakes.
Too much friction and heat will also deteriorate the material inside, which can make the brake pads and rotors wear down faster than usual.
Brake Fluid fade: In most situations, brake fluid doesn’t change its appearance or volume, but if it gets too hot due to repeated and intense braking, the brake fluid evaporates due to moisture buildup inside.
The vaporized fluid can create air bubbles which push the brake pads farther than usual and make brakes less effective.
Brake fluid is a serious issue and should be fixed immediately.
Green or early life brake fade: When you install new brake pads, they release gasses between the pads and rotor, which creates a slippery layer(hydroplane).
This layer makes it harder for the brake pads and rotors to grip to slow down your car as the brake loses its effectiveness. This type of fade is known as Green or early life brake fade.
Now that we know the types of brake fade let’s get to know how to prevent brake fade.
How To Prevent brake fade (6 Affective Ways)
If you have a high-performance or heavy vehicle, it’s crucial to have components that can handle the extra braking demands than usual braking parts.
There are 4 different kinds of brake pads available, and they adjust to many types of vehicles based on their loads and driving style. These brake pads are made with special materials to ensure they work effectively.
So make sure your vehicle has the right material to pull off the extra load and friction and prevent friction.
Besides, some driving habits can prevent brake fade. They are:
1. Avoid Aggressive Driving:
Always try not to drive too aggressively to avoid heat buildup inside.
Actions like Quick stops, fast starts, and heavy braking in traffic can build too much heat and cause brake fade. So avoid this type of action while you are driving.
2. Apply Engine Braking:
When driving on elevated or curving roads, downshift gears to slow down to keep a minimal speed and avoid using the brake too much.
Look out for the road and gradually slow down by removing your foot from the gas pedal rather than slamming on the brakes.
3. Reduce Weight:
If you have too much extra stuff in your car, it will add up extra weight, which will put more work on your brakes to slow it down. So, try to make your car light as possible to lessen the load on the brakes.
4. Remember to Break in Your Brake Pads:
If you got a new car or installed new brake pads, ask your mechanic if they did bedding on your brakes. If not, then try to do bedding on your brake pads and rotors as soon as possible to prevent green or early-life brake fade.
5. Take Care of Your Brakes:
Don’t wait for your brakes to wear down, as this can get risky and cause the brake to malfunction.
Get your brake pads checked for wear at least once a year or according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
6. Change Brake Fluid:
Never forget to replace your brake fluid occasionally. Follow the car manufactures advice and replace your brake fluid to keep the brakes in good shape.
Following the advice above will help you to prevent brake fade in the future.
What to do when you get brake fade?
If you feel that your brake pedal is spongy and the brake isn’t working as it used to do, it means you are experiencing brake fade. In the time of brake fade, the brake will take longer to stop the vehicle, so it is possible that you will crash into something in traffic.
To avoid this from happening, try to slow down using the engine brake. Downshift to lower gear and take off the foot from the gas pedal. Gradually slow down and let the brakes cool down for a bit. After some time, the brakes will cool down and work usually; then you are ready to go.
If your car is at a higher speed and downshifting won’t work, then push the emergency brake to prevent crashing.
Note: If the brake fading symptoms are more frequent, you should check it out with the help of a mechanic and replace the brake pads and rotors if it’s worn out or damaged.
Related Questions To prevent brake fade
Can old brake fluid cause brake to fade?
Yes, old brake fluid can cause brake fade. Brake fade is loss of braking power due to excessive heat in the braking system. Old brake fluid can have a lower boiling point than new fluid, which means it can boil more easily when the brakes are used repeatedly or heavily. When the fluid boils, it creates bubbles that reduce the pressure in the brake lines and make the pedal feel spongy or soft.
This reduces the braking force and increases the stopping distance. To prevent brake fade caused by old fluid, it is recommended to change the brake fluid every two years or according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Using the correct type and quality of brake fluid can also help avoid fluid fade.
Which type of brakes are more prone to brake fade?
Drum brakes are more likely to experience brake fade. This occurs when the brakes lose effectiveness after getting too hot.
Why prone to brake fade: Drum brakes have less effective heat dissipation compared to disc brakes, making them more susceptible to overheating and brake fade.
Do air brakes fade?
Air brakes are a type of braking system that uses compressed air to apply pressure to the brake pads or shoes. Air brakes can fade or lose braking power when they overheat due to excessive or prolonged use. This can happen because the friction material on the pads or shoes wears out, the air pressure in the system drops, or the brake fluid boils and creates air bubbles.
Brake fade can be dangerous, as it increases the stopping distance and reduces the control of the vehicle. To prevent brake fade, drivers should use proper braking techniques, such as engine braking, and avoid riding the brakes.
Brake fade is a term that means the brake doesn’t work as it is supposed to. So if you feel that your brake pedal is spongy or the braking isn’t working as it is supposed to do, that is brake fade.
Brake fading is a result of overheating and friction, so to prevent brake fade, you need to avoid aggressive braking and try not to use brakes frequently, and use engine braking most of the time.
By following the tips and advice above, you can prevent brake fading and have a safer driving experience.
I hope this article, “What helps prevent brake fade,” is informative and help full to you.