Myths About The Brakes On Your Car - Subaru Service Questions in Olympia, WA

If you're a typical driver, you probably know that your car needs new brake pads from time to time, and that's about it. And, really, that's all you need to know when you trust the pros at the Hanson Subaru service department to take care of your ride! But, if you want to take the absolute best care of your car, diagnose your own braking problems, or just learn a little bit about how cars really work, take a look below at our list of five common braking myths (or are they myths?).

With the wheel removed, we can easily see the whole disc brake assembly, including the caliper and rotor.

5. Brake Rotors Warp From Heat -- Myth Busted

Damaged brake rotors can cause your car to shudder and shake under braking, and that's often attributed to "warped" brake rotors. The suggestion goes, under intense, emergency, both-feet-on-the-pedal-type braking, the brakes get so hot that the brake rotor warps and deforms. Since it's not perfectly flat anymore, it causes your car to shake when you engage the brakes.

But that's a myth -- there's simply no way that a brake rotor can get hot enough to warp or deform on an ordinary passenger car. However, this idea of a 'warped' rotor is commonly used in reference to the surface that the brake pads contact. This surface can become uneven and this is most commonly caused by heat from emergency or aggressive braking. As the brake pads are held against an uneven rotor surface, the vehicle may shake or shudder while stopping or you may notice that your brake pedal has something of a bounce to it.

So, while it's usually not technically accurate to say that a brake rotor is warped, that term is still used to indicate that the surface of your brake rotors is not even.

A techician bleeds the brake fluid from this car's brake lines.

4. Brake Fade Comes From Boiling Brake Fluid -- Myth Confirmed

This one is true! Your car's brakes work by fluid dynamics -- when you press on the brake pedal, pressure is applied to the brake fluid, which translates that pressure through the brake lines and into braking force at the brakes. But, even if braking can't warp your rotors, it does generate a ton of heat. It can even generate enough heat to cause your brake fluid to boil.

Over time, the brake fluid in your car can absorb water vapor from the atmosphere -- and, since water boils at a lower temperature, it'll lower the boiling point of the brake fluid. When the brake fluid boils in the brake lines, it turns into a gas, which compresses -- meaning pressure won't be applied to the brakes. The phenomenon where stopping power comes on strong initially, but quickly vanishes, is known as "brake fade." If you're dealing with brake fade, visit Hanson Subaru to have the brake system bled and refilled with fresh brake fluid.

3. Brake Pads Need To Warm Up For Optimal Performance -- Myth Busted

While it's true that the brake pads on high-performance race cars like NASCAR and F1 vehicles need heat to do their thing, consumer brake pads are a whole different story. They have to be able to stop your vehicle in a snowstorm or on a hot summer's day. They'll work well regardless of temperature.

Brake pads like these are designed to make noise when its time to replace them.

2. Slotted Brake Rotors Provide More Stopping Power -- Myth Busted

Slotted or cross-drilled brake rotors look impressive, but what do those slots and holes really do? They're supposed to help dissipate heat and keep the dust from your brake pads from building up on the surface of the rotor -- but do they really work?

This one's a myth too. In fact, check out the brake rotors on a F1 or IndyCar. You'll notice that, on some of the fastest cars in the world, they have solid brake rotors. That's because those slots don't actually help to dissipate heat or mitigate brake dust. However, they do help provide a place for water, mud and debris to escape -- and that's why the 2019 Subaru WRX STI comes with cross-drilled rotors. After all, it's a rally-inspired car that needs to be able to perform on just about any terrain. On a typical passenger car, slotted and cross-drilled rotors provide no real benefit.

1. Brake Noise Means You Need New Brake Pads -- Myth Plausible

Most brake pads will make noise when they're worn down. A small metal tab on the brake pad will rub against the rotor when the pad is worn almost all the way down. That noise is your indication that it's time for a brake job at the Hanson Subaru service center.

That said, not every brake noise originates from the brake pads. Any time two metal parts rub or vibrate against one another, squeaking and squealing noises can develop. To get your brakes to operate smoothly and quietly, have them looked at in our service center the next time they start to chirp. We can replace your brake pads or make any other adjustments necessary to fix the brake noise.

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Hanson Subaru

2300 Carriage Loop SW
Directions Olympia, WA 98502

  • Call or Text Sales: 360 943 2120
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  1. Hanson Subaru

    2300 Carriage Loop SW
    Olympia, WA 98502

    • Sales : (888) 490-9863