As the mercury rises and summer takes hold, many aspects of daily life are affected, and your car's performance is no exception. One critical component that undergoes considerable strain during hot weather is the braking system. The intense heat can have adverse effects on the performance and efficiency of car brakes.
One of the primary issues associated with hot weather and car brakes is brake fade. Brake fade occurs when prolonged exposure to high temperatures causes the brake system to lose its effectiveness. An example would be when towing a caravan on a long downhill run.
As temperatures soar, the heat generated by braking can overwhelm the system, leading to a reduction in friction between the brake pads and rotors. This phenomenon can result in a longer stopping distance and decreased overall braking performance.
Learn more about how your braking system works with our handy AutoFact Video
Hot weather exacerbates the risk of brake fluid boiling and vapor lock. Brake fluid plays a crucial role in transferring force from the brake pedal to the brake components. When the fluid reaches its boiling point due to high temperatures, vapor bubbles can form, compromising the system's hydraulic efficiency. This can lead to a spongy brake pedal feel and a significant reduction in the responsiveness of the braking system.
Elevated temperatures can accelerate the wear and tear of brake pads and rotors. The increased heat generated during braking in hot weather can cause the brake pads to wear more quickly, diminishing their effectiveness over time. Similarly, the excessive heat can lead to warping, hard spots that do not wear evenly and cracking of brake rotors, further compromising the integrity of the braking system.
Urban areas experience more stop-start traffic regardless of season, leading to increased stress on the braking system. The frequent use of brakes in these conditions generates more heat, contributing to brake fade and reduced overall braking performance. Drivers should exercise caution and maintain a safe following distance to account for potential brake-related issues in these conditions.
To mitigate the impact of hot weather on car brake performance, regular maintenance is crucial.
Drivers should have their brake systems inspected routinely, paying attention to brake fluid levels and quality.
Upgrading to high-performance brake pads and rotors designed to withstand elevated temperatures and driving conditions can also enhance the system's resilience. Additionally, avoiding aggressive driving and allowing the brakes to cool between heavy usage can contribute to prolonging their lifespan and maintaining optimal performance in hot weather conditions.
Overall, the relationship between hot weather and car brake performance is a critical aspect of vehicle safety. Awareness of the potential issues, coupled with proactive maintenance and prudent driving habits, can help drivers navigate the challenges posed by elevated temperatures. By prioritising brake health, motorists can help ensure their safety and that of others on the road, even in the scorching heat of summer.
When you have your vehicle serviced at your local Repco Authorised Service centre they’ll check your braking system as part of our 65 Point Vehicle Inspection. They can also advise you on right brake pads for your vehicle and driving conditions.