The brakes of a car are undoubtedly one of its most crucial safety components. However, there are numerous myths and misconceptions surrounding them. Today, we’re going to debunk some of the most common misconceptions surrounding brakes.
Noisy brakes mean they need replacement
While we naturally assume that any mechanical part that produces a loud noise must be broken or need replacement, this is not always the case with brakes.
Although some brake pads are designed to create a squealing sound when the lining breaks down, high-performance brake pads may also emit an audible sound under braking. This is because these pads and rotors are designed to deliver superior performance, and the materials used in their construction may emit a squeal when they experience friction.
Additionally, callipers intended for competition and race use have fitment allowances to prevent brake callipers from seizing under high temperatures, resulting in knocking noises. To determine if your pads and rotors need replacement, it is best to conduct a visual inspection and follow the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.
Brake pads that produce lesser dust are better
Brake dust is not only unsightly but also a natural aftereffect of braking.
Therefore, some of the best-performing brake pads and rotors will produce brake dust. Pads that produce less dust do not necessarily offer better braking performance. While some high-performance brake pads with ceramic or Kevlar properties may produce less visible dust, they still produce brake dust.
Consequently, dust should not be a factor to consider when looking for well-performing brakes. Instead, regular car washes should be used to keep the car clean.
Big brake kits mean that the car will immediately stop
While upgrading to big brake kits can enhance the car’s braking force to a certain extent, it is not a guarantee that the car will stop immediately. A big brake kit increases braking force as it allows for a more significant surface area through bigger callipers and brake pads.
However, the primary advantage of big brake kits is that they are less susceptible to heat build-up, resulting in less brake fade and improved consistency under braking. Nonetheless, if the main goal is to improve stopping power significantly, the first step should be to use better tyres and brake fluid. Upgrading to the biggest brakes on the market will be pointless if the braking fluid is of poor quality or the tyres are worn out.
Pouring water on hot brakes will cool them down
This is perhaps the worst thing you can do to your brakes, whether you have stock or upgraded systems. Brake components such as pads and rotors expand and contract under normal usage, and pouring water on them when they are incredibly hot causes them to cool down too rapidly, resulting in warped pads and rotors. Warped rotors will cause vibrations through the steering wheel when you brake and reduce the brake system’s abilities. In some cases, it might even cause complete brake failure. Instead, let the brakes cool down before washing your car after a spirited drive.
Drilled or slotted rotors mean they are ventilated and cool down better
While cross-drilled rotors can aid in heat dissipation and improve wet weather braking, slotted rotors allow gases and brake dust to escape between the brake pad and brake rotor under braking. However, the disadvantages of cross-drilled rotors are that they are more susceptible to hairline cracks, while slotted rotors have a shorter lifespan compared to original replacement rotors and may wear down pads faster.
It is a common misconception that only drilled or slotted rotors are ventilated and cool down better. In reality, all brake rotors on modern cars are ventilated, especially at the front. Small, ventilated slats exist between the middle of the brake discs, allowing for optimised heat dissipation.
Upgrading all four brakes is necessary when installing big brake kits
Contrary to popular belief, upgrading only the front brakes is a common practice when installing big brake kits. The front brakes contribute up to 80% of a car’s braking abilities, and upgrading them can offer better fade resistance and heat dissipation, ensuring consistency under braking. Upgrading the rear brakes can add further complications as dual brake calliper setups in the rear may have to be installed to retain handbrake functions in certain cars. Therefore, upgrading only the front brakes works with the brake bias and provides a more effective set of brakes where they are most needed.
There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding brakes that need to be debunked. By understanding the facts, car owners can make informed decisions regarding maintaining and upgrading their braking systems, which ultimately contributes to their safety on the road.
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