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Brake Fade: All You Need to Know

February 12, 2024 | Victor Lukasso

Brake system fade has been a common issue affecting vehicles for many years, and it still exists today.

Brake fade, also known as vehicle braking system fade, is the loss of stopping power when the brakes are repeatedly or continuously applied, regardless of whether the vehicle is moving at a low or high speed.

What is Brake Fade

Brake fade is a common issue when a vehicle’s brakes are overused, causing them to lose their effectiveness and ability to bring the car to a halt. The primary cause of brake fade is overheating or a decrease in brake fluid pressure.


This can be hazardous as it can prolong the vehicle’s stopping distance, increasing the risk of an accident. Drivers should remain alert to the possibility of brake fade and take preventive measures, such as avoiding hard braking and giving the brakes time to cool down after extended use.

When the ability to stop the car suddenly decreases, it is usually due to brake fade. This occurs when the braking components cannot create the necessary friction to bring the vehicle to a halt in the expected time or distance. In such cases, applying more pressure to the brake pedal may be required to get the car to a stop.

What Are Common Brake Fade Symptoms?

Several symptoms may indicate brake fade, and you must take action as soon as you notice them.

One of the most common symptoms of brake fade is a loss of braking power or torque. This means your vehicle will take longer to slow down or stop, even if you press down hard on the brake pedal. However, the brake pedal itself may not feel spongy or unusual.

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Your vehicle may also require more time or distance than usual to come to a stop. This can be especially dangerous in emergencies where you need to stop quickly. After stopping your vehicle for some time, you may notice that the brakes seem to work normally again.

If you notice any of these symptoms, having your braking system inspected by a professional mechanic as soon as possible is essential. When brake fades become excessive, it can cause the brakes to stop working altogether, leading to total brake failure and a potentially dangerous situation.

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 multiple reasons why brake fade may occur in your vehicle’s braking system. Whenever you apply your vehicle’s brakes, your car’s kinetic energy is converted into heat due to friction, and the resulting heat is released into the atmosphere.

However, if you engage in continuous or heavy braking, your brake system may not have enough time to dissipate all the heat generated by the kinetic energy, leading to increased brake temperature.

When the brake temperature exceeds a certain threshold, the friction material or brake lining on your brake pad or brake shoe may deteriorate. Additionally, brake fluid boiling may occur during high temperatures, causing your vehicle’s brake components to malfunction, reducing braking performance.

To prevent brake fade, avoiding aggressive driving, driving downhill for extended periods, over-speeding, driving in stop-and-go traffic, and carrying an overloaded vehicle are essential.

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Suppose you notice brake fade symptoms, such as reduced braking power, longer stopping distances, or a spongy brake pedal. In that case, having your vehicle’s braking system inspected by a professional mechanic to identify and fix any underlying issues is crucial.

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 particular type of brake fade is a frequent occurrence. It typically happens when the heat produced by braking causes the resin in specific brake pads to deteriorate.

The breakdown of the resin leads to the release of gas that forms a film on the brake pads and rotors. This film creates a challenging environment for the brake pads and rotors to generate the necessary friction to stop the vehicle.

2. Brake Fluid Fade

Brake fluid fade is a common type of brake fade that happens when the brake fluid in a vehicle overheats due to the friction generated during braking. The heat causes any water in the brake fluid to boil and turn into steam, reducing the brakes’ effectiveness.

When brake fluid fade occurs, you may feel a soft or “spongy” sensation when you press down on the brake pedal. It is essential to address this issue immediately to avoid potential safety risks.

3. Brake Fade Oil

There are many options for brake fluid oils available to help maintain and improve the performance of your brake system over time.

You can find high-quality brake fluid oils at both online and brick-and-mortar stores. Online marketplaces such as Amazon offer your vehicle a wide selection of quality brake fluid oils.

How to Prevent Brake Fade

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

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1. Adopt Better Driving Habits

It is essential to avoid driving aggressively and instead use your vehicle’s brakes regularly rather than relying on constant or heavy braking.

2. Avoid Heavy Braking or High Braking Performance

To prevent brake fade in your vehicle, avoiding heavy braking or overusing your brakes is essential. This will help you maintain the integrity of your brake components and ensure they function correctly. Additionally, it’s recommended to use brake components from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or other reputable brands.

When purchasing replacement brake parts, opting for OEM pads, rotors, and brake line parts whenever possible is best. Stock brakes and pads are typically more reliable than many aftermarket parts, and using reputable brands can help ensure your braking system’s quality and reliability.

3. Always use a Drilled Brake Drum Set

Using a drilled brake drum set or drilled rotors in your vehicle is also essential because it is better for heat dissipation.

4. Always Flush Brake Fluid Regularly from your Braking System

Regularly flushing the brake fluid from your braking system is highly recommended as it can significantly reduce the risk of brake fluid fade caused by moisture contamination.

5. Use of Fade-Stop Brake Coolers

Using fade-stop brake coolers can assist in cooling down your braking system and enhance its performance even during extended driving periods. These suggestions can aid in safeguarding your braking system from fading. However, knowing how to react when your braking power suddenly diminishes is crucial to stay safe while driving.

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Meet Victor Lukasso, the owner of V. Auto Basics. Through this blog, Victor Provides Insights on the latest tips, maintenance, repair, and techniques in the automotive world.