Brake Lubricants

by | Mar 18, 2020 | Best Practices

What’s the right lubricant for your brakes?

The brakes on your car can regularly reach temperatures of several hundred degrees through normal braking during everyday driving. If you ride your brakes, drive in stop and go traffic, regularly go up and down mountains or hills, tow a trailer, or drive aggressively, the heat created by braking can cause the components to become even hotter.

At high temperatures, many chassis or general purpose greases engineered for ball joints and wheel bearings will either melt or burn off, leaving the surfaces of brakes and components unlubricated and unprotected, creating a potentially dangerous situation. Even worse, grease that can’t take the heat can contaminate brake linings if it melts and runs off the calipers or brake drum hardware.

To avoid these issues and a potentially expensive problem for your vehicle, it’s best to use high temperature, brake specific fluids.

Avoid petroleum based products

Many types of chassis and multi-purpose grease are petroleum based. The problem is that petroleum based products can cause certain types of seal materials to swell and rupture. In terms of your braking system, if this type of lubricant comes into contact with the rubber seals, pistons, or other internal parts in a master cylinder, it can lead to leaks, fluid loss, and potential brake failure.

Specially designed brake lubricants, on the other hand, are composed of chemicals that are compatible with materials commonly used in all brake systems.

Types of lubricants

There are two primary types of brake fluids that vehicles take, called DOT 3 and DOT 4. Each type needs to meet certain requirements relating to pH values, chemical stability, water intolerance, and oxidation resistance. DOT 3 is the most standard brake fluid and is used in the majority of everyday vehicles by regular drivers. DOT 4 brake fluid, on the other hand, has a higher boiling point which means it can handle higher levels of heat. For that reason, DOT 4 is more commonly found in police cars and racing vehicles. While DOT 4 is compatible with DOT 3, it does not work the other way around.

No matter what type of vehicle you drive, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions for which brake fluid is the correct one.

Make the most of your brake lubricant

After choosing the correct brake lubricant, the most important thing you can do to improve brake performance is to follow the directions and use the proper amount. Too much grease inside a slide boot could cause brake drag when the grease heats up and expands. Excess lubricant can also cause contamination of the braking surfaces.

Properly functioning brakes is critical to the safe operation of your vehicle, and choosing the right lubricant is important to assure that your brakes are working correctly. Fortunately, at HEART Certified Auto Care, our trained, certified mechanics are ready to service and maintain your brakes, as well as make sure you have the proper lubricants to keep the components moving and your car under control.

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