How Cold Winter Weather Affects Car Brakes

November 28, 2018 9:52 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

No matter the time of year, the elements can take an eventual toll on your car, especially the braking system. However, wintertime brings a unique set of brake problems. Read on for a basic understanding of how cold winter weather affects your car’s brakes and the actions a brake shop in Gary, IN recommends you take to avoid damage and poor performance.

Effects of temperature on brakes

The friction between the brake rotors and brake pads tends to generate heat very quickly. This means your car’s brake system will stay warm long after you’ve parked. Heavy braking can also cause brakes to overheat, which leads to brake fade, followed by a decrease in braking efficiency. Make sure the brake pads and rotors have properly warmed up and you’ll notice that cold weather does not have the same effect on brake performance like heat does. Why is this? Keep reading!

Cold, not cold

It’s thought that cold weather keeps heat from being produced too fast, slowing your vehicle more quickly, but this is not exactly true. The truth is that car brakes are actually hotter on a cold, snowy or rainy day than you’d think they would be. This is because the water or moisture stands in as a lubricant, forcing you to apply extra pressure to the brakes in order to stop your vehicle in time. So, due to this extra pressure, the temperature on the brake pads and rotors are actually higher on cold days than on hot, dry days.

Brake wear increases in the winter

Winter driving is made tricky when roads are covered in snow and ice—slipping and sliding is a serious hazard. To get a hold on winter road conditions, most drivers take to pumping their brakes more often. The fact of the matter is that car brakes have to work extra hard to accommodate sliding, causing more heat and friction than usual. Unfortunately, this can speed up wear and tear and shorten the life of your braking system, as can other factors like aggressive driving and how often you brake. Soon, your brakes will become damaged and cracks may form due to the excessive heat.

If you hear squealing, squeaking or grinding noises while driving your car this winter, you should have your brakes checked out immediately. These sounds are typical signs of worn-out brake pads, but take your car to a certified mechanic for a thorough inspection so you know for sure.

Salt hurts brakes

Road salts are used to keep the roads safe and clear during icy, snowy winter weather. Salts lower the freezing point of water, which melts ice on the roads so vehicle tires can actually touch the road and gain better traction. On the downside, road salts can be a danger to cars. For example, freshly salted roads can kick salt up and around and underneath your vehicle, accelerating rust and corroding brakes. Wash or spray off your car periodically throughout the winter to remove the salt.

If you want to schedule vehicle service with an experienced brake shop in Gary, IN, don’t hesitate to contact Miller Brakes and Mufflers, Inc. this winter.

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