What is a brake fade and what causes it

What Is A Brake Fade And What Causes It

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to make a quick stop while driving, but your brakes seemed to take longer to respond? If so, what you might have experienced is an event known as brake fade. 

But you may wonder, what is a brake fade?

Brake fade is a temporary loss of braking power due to too much friction and temperature build-up in the braking system, which makes your brakes less effective and takes longer to stop when you push your car.

In this post, we will talk about brake fade symptoms, what’s causing it, and how to prevent brake fade, so without wasting time, let’s dive into the post and inform you about what a brake fade is.

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What is the meaning of brake fade?

Brake fade is a phrase that is used to describe a temporary drop or loss of braking power in a vehicle. It usually occurs when your brakes have been used continuously for a lengthy period of time, causing them to overheat. 

We know Brakes work by using friction to slow the car down, and the heat generated during this process needs to get released with the help of using the braking system’s several components.

So basically, brake fade means loss of brake power when you try to brake and stop your car.

What causes brake fade?

If you use your brakes for a long time without giving them a break to cool down, such as when going downhill with the brake pedal constantly pressed, the constant friction can create a significant amount of heat. This can result in a thin layer of gas forming between the brake pad and the disc, which results in reducing the friction and clamping power of the brake, causing it to feel less effective, meaning brake fade. 

Brake fade causes the brake pedal to feel less effective, and the vehicle may take longer than usual to come to a stop. It is an extreme safety threat because it reduces your vehicle’s braking power, increasing the stopping time and distance.

While brake fade is usually temporary, and the braking force may return to normal as the brakes cool down, it should be prevented by giving brakes time to cool down during prolonged or heavy use to ensure optimal braking performance.

Types of brake fade

There are many types of brake fade that can occur in your vehicle. Some of them are the following:

Brake Pad Fade:

The brake pads have a temperature range where it runs smoothly, but if the temperature rises more, the metal pads start to degrade and create a thin layer of gas between the brake pad and the disc. This prevents the brake from working and causes the brake fade.

The hot brake pads can also leave an uneven layer on the disc, causing it to develop high spots and lead to shaking and premature wear.

Brake fluid fade:

Brake fluid contains water which can evaporate when it comes close to too much heat. So if the brake pads get hot enough, the water inside the brake fluid creates steam and which reduces the braking power while you try to brake. When this happens, the brake pedal feels spongier than usual.

Now, you might be wondering if there are ways to prevent brake fade from happening. Read along with the post to learn more about it.

What are the common symptoms of a brake fade?

Brake fade is known as a condition where your vehicle’s brakes lose effectiveness, resulting in a loss of braking power or brake torque. This means your vehicle may not slow down as expected, even when you press hard on the brake pedal. 

However, this doesn’t mean your brake pedal won’t work in any other way. Here are the symptoms that you might encounter:

  1. When you push the brake pedal, it will take longer to stop the vehicle.
  2. The brake pedal might feel spongy when pressed on it.
  3. Your vehicle takes longer or requires more distance to slow down or come to a complete stop.

Sometimes, after your vehicle has been stopped for a while which can dissipate the heat and let the brakes cool down after then the brakes may normally work again.

If you notice the symptoms mentioned above, a professional mechanic should inspect your braking system as soon as possible to check if the brakes are working well. Excessive brake fade can result in total brake failure, which can be a dangerous driving experience.

Tips To Help You Prevent Brake Fade

To prevent delay or brake fade on your vehicle, we have gathered the best tips to help you. Some of them are

1. Dont drive aggressively 

Drive carefully and always avoid aggressive driving. Try to use your brakes occasionally instead of continuous or heavy braking, as this can help prevent excessive heat buildup in the brakes.

2. Use high-quality brake components.

Use brake components from only reputable brands. We prefer you to use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts for heavy braking or high-performance applications. OEM brakes and pads are generally more reliable than aftermarket parts you will find.

3. Use drum brakes to avoid brake fade.

If you are driving a heavy vehicle, Consider using drilled brake rotors or drum brakes for better heat dissipation because they can help disperse heat more effectively, which will reduce the risk of brake fade.

4. Regular maintenance of your brakes

Regularly maintaining your brakes by flushing the brake fluid from your braking system will reduce the chances of brake fluid fading due to moisture contamination. Fresh brake fluid can endure higher temperatures, leading to more optimal braking performance.

5. Use additional brake coolers.

Consider using fade-stop brake coolers, which can help cool down your brake system and prevent brake fade during prolonged or heavy braking.

Remember, knowing how to respond when your braking force suddenly falls is important to ensure your safety on the road. Following these tips and practicing safe driving habits can help protect your brake system from brake fade and maintain optimal braking performance.

Final thoughts

what is a brake fade? Well, Brake fade doesn’t mean that your brakes fade away due to friction. It actually means that your brakes work less due to gasses build up and expansion due to heat in the braking system. 

This occurs when you put your brakes frequently, and due to that, friction creates heat that causes the symptoms of brake fade. 

Using too much of your brake frequently will lead to a brake fade. So if your car doesn’t stop in time, it might eventually stop working and make the brakes fail too, which can be fatal. 

To make your brakes effective and prevent brake fade, we have provided you with some tips mentioned above. We hope this article “What is a brake fade and what causes it” was helpful to you.

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