The Impact of Climate on Your Vehicle’s Brake and Clutch System: Preparing for the Seasons
In time, the weather, especially the brakes, can wear down your vehicle no matter the season. Yet, a few brake and clutch service issues only occur in the winter. Learn how your car’s brakes react to the cold and what you can do to prevent damage and poor performance from a brake shop.
What Effect Does Weather Have on Vehicle Brakes?
- To understand how your car’s brakes operate and how various elements can affect braking performance, you need to turn to science. The brakes apply hydraulic pressure to the brake pads, squeezing against the rotor to slow the vehicle. Energy isn’t lost; it’s merely shifted to a different medium; thus, despite appearances, there’s much more going on than meets the eye.
- When you apply the brakes, your car’s kinetic energy is transformed into heat, which is then dissipated through the rotor’s central vents, causing your vehicle to slow down. Because of this, you might assume that cold weather or air improves braking performance, but this is only sometimes the case.
- For best performance, your car may also require a winter makeover. All year round, your car needs maintenance and brake and clutch repair, but the winter months call for a little extra consideration. Driving can be perilous during the winter because of the extremely hazardous road conditions. Foreseeing potential circumstances and scenarios as winter conditions develop is crucial.
- An accident or even a breakdown can be avoided with proper winter vehicle preparation. Overusing the brakes can cause them to overheat and eventually fade, reducing effectiveness. Once the pads and rotors have been warmed from the initial warm morning stop, cold weather doesn’t affect braking performance much. The common belief is that colder temperatures will cause a vehicle to generate less heat, slowing it down more quickly.
- Brake temperatures are higher than usual on wet and cold days because you need to apply more pressure to the brakes to achieve the same stopping distance when water and snow act as lubricants. Because of the increased force required to overcome the lubricating effects of water and snow, the brake pads and rotors’ temperature is 20-30% greater on a cold and rainy day compared to a dry day.
- As the temperature drops below freezing, any moisture in the brake fluid can freeze, preventing the brake pedal from returning to its resting position and releasing pressure. In addition to reducing the brakes’ effectiveness due to the added friction, the boiling of the brake fluid could increase your car’s stopping distance.
Maintaining and inspecting your brakes regularly will keep them working at peak efficiency. Once a year, you should change your brake fluid and bleed the system to maintain the optimal fluid condition and avoid moisture buildup. To prevent moisture from entering the system, regularly check the gasket on the brake fluid cap and replace it if necessary. Brake pads and rotors should be inspected every six months, and OEM replacements installed if required. Live in or plan to travel through an area with particularly steep gradients, like San Francisco or the hilly regions.
Brake performance in cold and hot conditions
Brake systems typically get very hot due to the friction between the rotors and pads. The brakes will remain heated for a considerable time after you park your automobile. Overheating from repeated hard stops causes brake fade and eventually less effective stopping power. Brake performance is not as affected by cold weather as heat, so long as the pads and rotors have been properly warmed up.
The opposite of cold
It’s commonly believed that cold weather slows your vehicle because it prevents heat from being created too quickly. Brakes get hotter in the winter, the snow, and the rain than you might expect. This is because the moisture acts as a lubricant, requiring you to press harder on the brakes to stop in time.
In the cold, brakes wear out faster:
When snow and ice blanket the roadways, driving becomes difficult because of the increased risk of skidding and sliding. Most drivers increase the frequency of their brake pedal presses in the winter to better control their vehicles on slippery roads. Car brakes, to handle sliding, have to work harder than usual, resulting in increased heat and friction. Sadly, this, along with other factors like aggressive driving and how often you brake, can accelerate wear and tear and shorten the life of your braking system.
You should get your automobile checked out by a professional technician if you listen to noises like these, as they could indicate worn brake pads. While braking, salt is a brake killer. In the event of icy and snowy weather, road salts are applied to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers. Salts reduce the freezing point of water, allowing the ice on roadways to melt and providing a better grip for Car Service.
Nonetheless, road salts do pose a risk to vehicles. For instance, if the roads have recently been salted, the salt may be kicked up, around, and underneath your car, speeding the rate of rust and corroding your brakes. Over the winter, you should wash or spray off your automobile at regular intervals to eliminate the salt.