The summer sun producing stifling heat can take its toll on many things. Namely, anything made of plastic. How about your car? We know that over time a car left in the sun will begin to fade paint, and that’s just on the outside. The heat is cooking rubber components under the hood and it isn’t helping the interior much either. Of all these things that are affected by the summer heat, did you ever consider what kind of toll the heat is taking on your brakes?
Heat is actually the enemy when it comes to brakes. Heat is naturally created due to friction while braking and when you add to that, higher than normal ambient temperatures in the summer, the heat can wreak havoc on your brakes. Fortunately, vehicle manufacturers have spent years perfecting brake pads to make them more resistant to heat caused by friction and ambient temperatures.
Friction Causes Heat
When you press on the brake pedal, brake fluid travels through the brake lines to the calipers, which squeeze against the rotors to make the vehicle slow down and stop. On an average vehicle, rotors can reach up to nearly 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but heavier vehicles and race cars can reach up to 500 degrees. Brakes systems are designed to convert kinetic energy into friction. The more heat produced by brakes, the more power the brakes have to stop.
Over time, the heat produced from friction can cause brake components to wear down. Extreme heat within the braking system is a problem, however. If brakes become severely overheated and cannot escape, the brake system is likely to begin to fail. With the added heat brought on by summer, the possibility of components in the brake system failing increase greatly. If your vehicle lacks quality brake components, there may not be enough material to dissipate the heat. When heat is prevented from escaping, brake fluid may begin to boil, reducing the brake power, and created what’s known as brake fade.
Choose the Best Brake Pads for Your Car
When it comes to choosing which is the best heat resistant brake pad for your vehicle, you should really consider the kind of vehicle that you drive, your driving habits, and how much you’re willing to pay. The most common brake pads used today are ceramic, organic, or semi-metallic brake pads.
- Ceramic – Made of ceramic fibers, bonding agents, and fillers, ceramic brakes are the crème de la crème of brake pads. Ceramic brake pads are quite expensive but are made to last longer, are more lightweight, and provide superior braking performance. And because of its ceramic base, the heat from friction dissipates more smoothly and produces far less brake dust than other brake pads.
- Organic – Organic brake pads are made of materials that are more natural such as glass and rubber, as well as resins made to withstand exposure to heat. Organic brake pads are quieter, do not contaminate the environment, and are easier to dispose of. While ideal for the environment, this kind of brake pad is not made for all vehicles and is best suited for smaller, lightweight cars used for minimal driving.
- Semi-Metallic – The most common brake pad used today, semi-metallic brake pads are made of steel fibers, copper or graphite, and friction modifiers. These pads are built to last longer and have a superior heat transfer ability designed to pull heat away from the rotor.
Take Care of Your Brakes
A brake inspection should be performed by a professional every 3,000 – 5,000 miles to ensure your brakes aren’t overheating and that the brake fluid hasn’t absorbed too much moisture. Brake fluid is hydroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture naturally. Over time, moisture builds and when brake fluid is mixed with water it is more likely to boil, especially under conditions of higher heat, making brake fade a hazardous possibility.
No matter what season it is, you need functioning brakes. When it’s time for a brake fluid flush, new brakes, or even just a brake inspection, call on the experts at Sun Auto Service. Our ASE Certified Technicians know brakes and can help you navigate the care they need all through the year. Your brakes have just survived the summer season and as we ease into fall and winter, now’s the time to receive an inspection to ensure you’ll be able to stop as you traverse through winter road conditions. If it’s time for new brake pads or rotors, we can help with that, too. You’ll be pleased with our limited lifetime warranty on each of our brake services, guaranteeing your satisfaction when you leave our service center. Visit any of our Sun Auto Service locations today for your free, no-obligation brake inspection.