Written by AMS Performance
What is Brake Fade?
Brake fade is the term used when there is a reduction in braking power due to excessive heat between your rotor and pad.
Why Does Brake Fade Happen?
Brake fade most commonly happens during high performance driving. During repeated high speed braking events or panic stops, heat builds up in the rotor and pad causing the pad materials to overheat and lose its friction properties. During this type of fade, the brake pedal is firm, but stopping power is reduced. Brake pad fade can be overcome in a variety of ways.
Another Type of Brake Fade
Overheating brake fluid is another common occurrence during track days. Like pad fade, boiling your brake fluid occurs during repeated high speed braking events. During braking, your calipers could reach temperatures in excess of 650 degrees. Brake fluid travels in and out of your calipers to compress and retract the pistons which clasp your brake pads against the rotor. During this process the fluid will boil and expel gas which collects in your brake lines. This in turn creates a spongy/soft pedal. The most effective way to combat this is to regularly bleed or flush your brake fluid with high quality high temp fluid. This is also the only way to remedy overheated brake fluid. The most commonly used fluid is Motul RBF 600.
Brake Pad Break Down
Brake pads are made up of different compounds which result in different characteristics. Standard OEM brake pads are designed to grip at a low operating temperature during daily commutes, while high performance “Track Pads” are designed to accommodate repeated extreme heat braking. Though track pads are great for the road course, they are a nuisance on the street and two separate sets of pads are recommended for avid track day enthusiasts. Track pads have a very high operating temperature which in turn serves no purpose during daily driving. Friction levels (Bite) at low operating temperature is almost non-existent and constant squealing is straining to ears. For people who only attend a few track days a year or drive very spiritedly on the street, a multi-purpose compound may be suitable. Performance Friction has introduced the Metallic Z line of pads. These pads work great for both the street and the occasional track day/AutoX.
Controlling Fade Through Driving Technique
Brake fade can be dramatically reduced through your driving style. Instead of lightly applying the brakes for long intervals, Use short bursts of braking to allow your rotors and pads to avoid extreme temperatures. Engine braking when combined with standard braking is another method that greatly reduces fade however this method comes with experience, we do not recommend this method for novice drivers.
Brake Upgrade Path
- High performance brake pads (higher heat coefficients withstand higher heat)
- S.S. brake lines (reduce line expansion/safety precaution)
- High temp brake fluid (prevents overheating brake fluid)
- Slotted rotors (disperse heat more efficiently)
- 2 piece floating rotors (disperse heat more efficiently/weight savings)
- Brake cooling kit (routes air to cooling vanes of rotors to quickly cool down rotor)
- Big brake upgrade (larger contact area/greater brake torque/cooling efficiency)