You’ve seen the pictures on the internet, people baking a tray of cookies on their dashboard or cracking an egg on the sidewalk in the middle of summer in Phoenix. It’s funny and may get a lot of likes on social media but it just proves that the heat in our state is quite powerful. We know that the heat can be dangerous to our own health, so how does the heat affect our cars? More specifically, what kind of effect does the heat have on your brakes?
Heat is the brake system’s worst enemy. Heat is created when braking, due to friction, and when you combine that with the extreme heat brought on by Arizona’s brutal summers, the heat can absolutely affect your brakes. Luckily, vehicle manufacturers have engineered brake pads to help reduce heat produced by friction by utilizing materials that are more resistant to heat exposure.
Types of Brake Pads
Most vehicles today are equipped with either semi-metallic, non-asbestos organic, or ceramic brake pads.
Brake pads are constructed of steel wool, graphite or copper, as well as friction converters. This type of pad is made to last longer and has an incredible heat transfer capability, pulling more heat away from the rotor. It is the most widely used brake pad in many different vehicles.
Brake pads are made from more organic substances such as glass and rubber including resins that are more impervious to heat. Organic brake pads are made of substances that are not pollutants, are easier to discard, and are often quieter. This type of brake pad is more suitable for smaller, lightweight cars.
Brake pads made of ceramic fibers, fillers, and bonding agents are perhaps the best brake pads available. They’re lightweight, provide excellent braking performance, and wear well over time. The ceramic material allows the heat produced by friction to dissipate very well and produce less dust than other pads. However, they are very expensive.
How to Extend the Life of Your Brakes in Phoenix
Brake pads can last anywhere between 40,000 – 90,000 miles however, that number varies greatly based on your driving habits. Brake pad replacement can cost anywhere between $100 – $150 per axle, by making minor changes in the way you drive, you can greatly extend the life of your brakes, which can save you a bundle!
- Lighten Your Load – Are you hauling around a bunch of stuff unnecessarily? A sweater here, a soccer ball there, some random papers, etc. While it may not seem like much, the weight can add up. Extra weight means your brake pads must take on a larger amount of kinetic energy to come to a stop. Also consider that customizations such as heavy stereo systems, custom wheels, and body panels can increase the weight of your car, shortening the life of brake pads.
- Slow Your Roll – Speed causes significant wear on brake pads. Sometimes hard stops are unavoidable but repeated full stops from high speeds are the number one cause of premature brake wear. Brake pads convert energy into heat, when there is more heat, there is more heat to dispel, which causes pads to wear down faster. By reducing your speed, you may be able to slow down the wear and tear on your brake pads.
- The Coast is Clear – Watch the flow of traffic. When you see other vehicles stopped such as at a stoplight, instead of braking, take your foot off the accelerator and allow the car to coast to lower your speed. When you keep your foot on the gas and then stop at the light, you’re wasting gas and placing unnecessary pressure on your brake pads, increasing wear and tear.
- Don’t Forget to Flush – Brake fluid is hydroscopic, which means it naturally attracts moisture. Moisture can cause corrosion and greatly affect internal brake components. By having your brake system bled and flushed every two years, or when new brakes are installed, your brake components will operate more effectively and last longer.
At some point, no matter how well you drive, your brake pads and rotors will require replacement. However, by adjusting your driving habits with our tips, you may be able to get a bit more life out of your brakes which will save you money in the end.
Sun Devil Auto is a local company established right here in the Phoenix area in 1978. We know and understand the toll that the Phoenix heat has on brakes. Now that we’ve entered the fall season and the weather has cooled, it’s an ideal time to have your brake system inspected. If you hear that all too familiar screech or rumbling sound as you come to a stop, bring your vehicle down to any of our valley locations. We offer a free, no-obligation brake inspection performed by our ASE Certified Technicians. We’ll let you know how much life is left in your brake pads and rotors and when a replacement may be necessary. For all your automotive needs, any time of year, Sun Devil Auto is here to get you back on the road.