November 19, 2020How To Avoid Brake Fade
Brake fade is the short-term loss or complete loss of a vehicle’s braking power. Brake fade happens when the brake pad of a vehicle is unable to create enough friction to bring it to a halt at the right rate of deceleration, which can cause increased stopping distances.
To avoid brake fade you should be careful with heavy braking (and only do so when it is necessary), lighten the load of the vehicle, replace brake fluid to the optimum level and ensure it is serviced according to your local garage’s recommendations.
Brake fade caused by brake pads and discs
The most common reason for brake fade is when a vehicle’s pads and discs experience a reduction in the braking force between them – this can result in extremely high temperatures. Overheated brake pads and discs have a tendency to lose some of their tactility, which can make them feel more solid but without offering optimal braking power.
The design of brake pads and discs have been tirelessly tested to ensure that they perform well across a large temperature range – which is far beyond the temperatures that everyday driving would reach.
That said, overloaded trailers or heavily loaded cars that are taken for a spin around a racetrack could quickly generate temperatures that exceed the limits of brake pads and discs – which is when you will experience brake fade.
You may be wondering how does it work for supercars? Supercars have special discs. Take the McLaren P1, they have ceramic discs that are coated in silicon carbide so that they continue performing way beyond temperatures of a standard cast-iron disc.
What happens when you push a cast-iron disc beyond its temperature threshold?
- A brake pads’ friction material can wear during high temperatures and stick to the surface of the braking disc. When this happens, the pad doesn’t have any contact with a flat surface. This can cause premature wear to the pad and disc, judders when braking and can reduce the vehicle’s braking power capabilities.
Resins turn to gas
- When temperatures are high, the resins inside a brake pad can turn to gas, this chemical reaction causes the pad to slip away from the disc, causing the brakes to fade. When the temperature drops to a normal level, the gas dissipates and the ability to brake will return but consistent exposure to this will cause irreparable damage.
How to avoid brake fade
- Be careful with heavy braking – only do it if needed
- Don’t overload your vehicle
- Replace the brake fluid regularly
- Have your vehicle serviced by professionals
Now you know what causes it, you know how to prevent it.