Brake Maintenance

How to Reduce Brake Fade


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Brake fade refers to the loss of effectiveness of the brakes. This occurs over time due to the repeated use of brakes whenever the vehicle is being driven, particularly when heavy loads are being carried or when the vehicle is traveling at a high speed.

Although brakes do not last indefinitely because they are applied over and over again during normal driving, there are a number of approaches you can use to reduce or prevent brake fade and extend their useful life span.

Step 1. Purchase the Correct Brakes

Purchase high performance brakes which are of a high quality and will have a longer useful life. The brakes on any vehicle are extremely important pieces of equipment that can save or cause the loss of life. These are items that should be of the highest possible quality. The components in high performance brakes improve friction through the use of lining materials that offer a considerably higher coefficient of friction than what a standard brake will do. Brake fade in these high performance units is further reduced through the use of high quality binding resins. Dimpled discs speed up heat dissipation and reduce the gaseous layer that forms between the disk and the lining.

Step 2. Drive Correctly

The majority of brake loss occurs while traveling downhill. Downshift when the vehicle is going down long, steep hills, rather than applying the brakes. Drivers of vehicles with a standard transmission can do so without any problem. Those in vehicles with automatic transmission will need to brake before they proceed to downshift. After the downshift, the vehicle will slow down once you have removed your foot from the brake.

Step 3. Tap the Brakes

Tap your brakes rather than applying constant pressure to them. This approach allows the brakes to cool down between applications of sustained pressure, which will prolong their life considerably. Do not constantly keep one foot above the brake. Drivers, who use one foot only for braking and the other for acceleration, experience this as one of the main brake fade causes. than the driver who alternates one foot between the acceleration and the brake pedal.

Step 4. Check Brakes Fluid Regularly

Check your brake fluid regularly and keep the holding container full as per the marks indicated on the outside of the plastic holder. The phenomenon known as brake fluid boiling, which is invariably associated with the release of compressible gas, is created when there is insufficient brake fluid in the system. This condition will make for so called "spongy" brakes and enhance brake fade problems considerably.

Step 5. Install a "Fade Stop Brake Cooler"

Have a professional install "fade stop brake coolers" to your vehicle. These cooler shields are manufactured to slip between the calliper piston and the brake pad backing plate. Their function is to transfer heat away from the working parts to the surrounding environment, by conducting heat from the interface to an external heat sink.

Step 6. Treat New Brakes Carefully

Be aware that new brakes can experience a condition called "green fade", during which the manufacture applied resin that coats the pad begins to evaporate, because of the high temperatures associated with braking. The brake lining is then forced away from the disc by the gas which has been created, thereby reducing the very friction that is required for optimal braking. For this reason, new brakes should always be treated as carefully as possible for at least the initial 100 miles after they have been installed.

Step 7. Check that all Brakes are Functional

In large multi-wheeled trucks, the failure of one brake will put additional pressure on the remaining units, which will cause them to become hotter than average and thereby fade quicker. This is termed "cascading fade" and due to the often extremely heavy loads that are transported by large trucks. This type of fade can be life threatening.

Brakes problems can cost you your life. Ensure that a technician checks your vehicle's brakes on a regular basis.

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