What Causes Automotive Brakes to Overheat?

Many drivers already know that extreme heat can harm their cars and trucks. And while engine overheating is the most commonly recognized issue, many other components can be affected. The brakes are one of the systems that can take a hit with the heat. Below, Casey’s team in Sterling, VA, will cover how the brake system works, how heat affects it, and what you can do to avoid heat damage.

How Brakes Work

Most brake systems are hydraulic. Hydraulic brakes use multiple mechanisms that use brake fluid and a vacuum booster. When you press on the brake pedal, the booster boosts the driver’s performance by helping to apply hundreds of pounds of pressure to the hydraulic components. When the brakes are activated, it creates friction between the brake pads and rotors. Friction generates heat. A super hot day will cause the heat to become more significant.

When Brakes Are Too Hot

There are multiple ways the braking system can become affected by heat. One of them, described above, is the hydraulic fluid. When the liquid heats up too much, it cannot do its job. Severe heat can cause the fluid to boil in the brake lines, which is obviously not good! Another issue is what’s called “glaze.” Glazing means that the brake pads and rotors, usually rough surfaces, become smooth. When those surfaces are smoothed, it affects the system’s ability to cause friction.

What Causes Overheated Brakes?

Friction is on the top of the list of causes, but there are other things as well.

  • Failing Brake Mechanisms
  • Overly Worn Brake Pads and Discs/Rotors
  • Failing Calipers and Guide Pins
  • Low-Quality Brake Pads

However, poor driving habits are the number one culprit for overheating the brakes. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “riding the brake,” this is what it means. You are risking the system by engaging the brake pedal more than is truly needed. The best thing for one of these drivers is to stay at least two car lengths away from other vehicles. Keep your eyes on the road, and remain vigilant without consistently hitting that pedal.

Warning Sign of Overheated Brakes

Taking everything you’ve read above into account, add this into the mix. If when you brake you can hear squealing, screeching, or feel vibrations or the brake is squishy, get your vehicle into a Chantilly, VA shop for an inspection. Along with sounds and feelings, keep your nose aware too! If you smell burned carpet or rubber, get it into a shop.

How to Avoid Overheating Brakes

All of that was to say, there are steps you can take to hopefully avoid having your brakes become overheated. These include regular brake inspections, brake maintenance, hydraulic fluid flushes, timely repairs, and above all else, DON’T RIDE YOUR BRAKES.

Brake Maintenance & Repairs at Casey’s Automotive in Sterling, Virginia

Keeping everything we’ve told you so far in mind should help you to avoid overheated brakes in the future. So, whether you need brake maintenance or repair from overheating, contact us to keep your system healthy!






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