Brake Fade: All You Need to Know


Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by Victor Lukasso

Brake fade is one of the major problems that are fat the brake system over the years and currently. Brake fade or vehicle braking system fade is the reduction in stopping power that occurs after repeated or sustained application of the brakes, even in low or high-speed conditions.

What is Brake Fade

Brake fade is a phenomenon that can occur when a vehicle’s brakes are used extensively, causing them to lose effectiveness and become less able to stop the vehicle. This can happen as a result of the brakes overheating, or due to a loss of brake fluid pressure. Brake fade can be dangerous because it can cause a vehicle to take longer to stop, increasing the risk of an accident. It is important for drivers to be aware of the potential for brake fade and to take steps to prevent it, such as avoiding heavy braking and allowing the brakes to cool down after extended use.

Brake fade usually occurs when you experience a sudden decrease in braking ability. It is when the braking system components can’t generate the friction needed to stop the car within an appropriate amount of time or distance. So you need to price the brake pedal father down before you can stop the car.

You experience brake fade when your brakes are not working properly as they used to do before.

What Are Common Brake Fade Symptoms?

There are numerous symptoms you need to check immediately after you begin to experience brake fade. The most common symptom of brake fade is losing braking power or brake torque.

Your vehicle won’t be able to slow down as it’s supposed to, no matter how hard you press down on the brake pedal; But, the brake pedal won’t feel spongy or weird in any other way.

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It will take your vehicle more time or distance than usual before it can slow down or come to a complete stop. After you’ve stopped your car for some time, your vehicle’s disc brakes or drum brake assembly will usually seem to have regained functionality.

Immediately you begin to notice this, you need to consult a professional mechanic to inspect your braking system. Because when brake fade becomes excessive, your vehicle’s brakes can stop working completely which may cause total brake failure.

Other Symptoms include:

  • A longer stopping distance when the brakes are applied
  • A lack of responsiveness from the brakes, or a feeling that the brakes are not working as well as usual
  • A burning smell coming from the brakes, which may indicate that they are overheating

What are the Causes of Brake Fade

There are several causes of brake fade. Every time you use your vehicle’s brakes, the kinetic energy of your vehicle gets converted into heat by friction; So, the friction heat is dissipated into the atmosphere.

When you engage in continuous or heavy braking, your drum brake or disc brake system won’t have enough time to dissipate all the kinetic energy that can be converted into heat, so the heat will add up to raise your brake temperature.

Immediately your brake temperature passes a certain threshold, the friction material or brake lining on your brake shoe or brake pad will begin to degrade.

During high temperatures, instances of brake fluid boil are also common.

Your car’s brake components may stop working as expected, so it makes your braking system and performance take a hit.

Now that you know the causes of brake fade in your vehicle, let’s go over some brake fade symptoms that you’ll need to watch out for:

  • Driving aggressively
  • Driving down a hill
  • Over-speeding
  • Caught up in stop-and-go traffic
  • Driving an overloaded vehicle, and more.
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Types of Brake Fade

You need to know that there are several types of brake fade and it is essential to know the kind of brake fade you have so that you will be able to find the right and most effective solution to it as soon as possible.

1. Worn Brake Pad

This is one of the common types of brake fade, it usually occurs immediately as heat generated by braking causes the resin in certain brake pads to degrade.

When resin breaks down, it releases a gas that creates a film in the brake pads and rotors. This film makes it so difficult for the brake pads and rotors to create friction that can stop your car.

2. Brake Fluid Fade

Brake fluid fade is also one of the common types of brake fade, it occurs when water in the vehicle’s brake fluid is overheated from all the friction. So the overheated water boils into steam and reduces the effectiveness of your brakes.

Immediately brake fluid fade occurs, and pressing down on the brake pedal will cause a soft or “spongy” feeling.

3. Brake Fade Oil

There are numerous brake fluid oils you can use to maintain your brake system so that it will increase performance over a short or long time.

You can check out several online and offline stores for high-quality brake fluid oil. Amazon is one of the best places to pick high-quality brake fluid oil for your vehicle.

Check out some of the high-quality brake fluid oils on Amazon below.

PEAK OET High-Temperature Synthetic Brake Fluid for Asian Vehicles, 12 oz
Motul (4 Pack) 100950 100% Synthetic Brake Dot 5.1 Brake Fluid 1/2 Liter or 500 ml
Bosch ESI6-32N Brake Fluid (Direct Replacement for DOT 3, DOT 4, and DOT 5.1) 1 Quart

How to Prevent Brake Fade

There are several methods you can use to prevent brake fade both in the short and long period.

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These are some of the most effective methods of preventing brake fade from happening to your vehicle:

1. Adopt Better Driving Habits

Always avoid driving too aggressively, and make use of your vehicle’s brakes regularly instead of resorting to continuous or heavy braking.

2. Avoid Heavy Braking or High Braking Performance

You need to avoid heavy braking or high braking performance if you want to prevent your vehicle from brake fade because it will help you to use only brake components from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or other reputed brands.

For example, purchase only OEM pads, OEM rotors, and OEM brake line parts whenever possible. This is because stock brakes and stock pads are usually more reliable than most other aftermarket parts.

3. Always use a Drilled Brake Drum Set

It is also important to make use of a drilled brake drum set or drilled rotors in your vehicle because it is better for heat dissipation.

4. Always Flush Brake Fluid Regularly from your Braking System

Try as much as you can to flush brake fluid from your braking system regularly this will help to reduce brake fluid fade from moisture contamination.

5. Use of Fade-Stop Brake Coolers

You need to make use of fade-stop brake coolers, they will help you to cool down your braking system and will be able to increase its performance even if you are driving for a long time.

While these tips can help you protect your brake system against fade, knowing what to do when your braking force suddenly drops is also vital to stay safe on the road.

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