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Cold weather brake problems to look out for

If you’ve lived in Meridian, ID for more than a year, you have experience with our winter weather. Winter here can be fun — building snowmen, sledding, and sipping on hot chocolate. However, the lower temps and potential snowfall isn’t all fun and games. In fact, colder temps can seriously impact the performance of your vehicle.

The combination of friction, worn parts and moisture can turn into some notable brake problems in the cold weather.

Here are three cold-weather brake problems to look out for:

Too Much Heat

That may sound odd, but believe it or not, heat can be a problem for your brakes in colder weather. When you get snow and water on the brake pads, you must apply more pressure to the brakes and possibly hold them down longer than you normally would while you are driving.

This extra pressure and time spent pressing the brakes can cause your braking system to get extra hot, extra fast. This could cause the brakes to overheat, and overheated brakes don’t perform quite as they should.

Brake components break down fast when they are exposed to heat, which could lead to squeaky brakes and a lack of brake response. To help avoid overheating, try not to ride the brakes. You should also try and time your stops so that you can slow your car to the stop with engine braking and press the brake gradually rather than pushing down aggressively.

Rust

After you have driven through snow and parked your car, water can remain on your brake components. After days or weeks of winter rain, snow, and slush sitting on your brake components, there is a high potential that rust will form. And, some places use road salts that can accelerate the rusting process.

Unfortunately, some surface rust is simply unavoidable. However, too much rust on the brake rotors can cause pitting. Pitting is the term used when rust eats away at the brake rotors leaving them dented and rough. This allows rust particles to tarnish the brake pads. If your braking system is water-compromised, you may hear weird sounds and/or experience reduced stopping power. If it is really cold, the brake pads may freeze to the rotor. If this happens, you will notice a burning smell and a stiff brake pedal. There may also be a sort of sluggish feeling when you take your foot off the brake.

If you have an excessive buildup of rust on your brake components, the brakes may squeal and/or squeak, or lose power. If you suspect you are dealing with rust and/or water damaged brakes, you can visually inspect the brake pads for pitting or bring your vehicle into Meridian Automotive for a brake inspection.

To try and prevent rust from building up on your brake components, avoid parking your vehicle outdoors as much as possible, and have it cleaned thoroughly at the end of the season.

Dirty Undercarriage

Winter driving can lead to a build-up of road salt on your vehicle. According to the Idaho Department of Transportation, the amount of road salt used here is well below the amount used in eastern states. These salts make the roadways safer, but as we mentioned above, they accelerate rusting and corrosion which can damage the brake pads, exhaust system, and muffler.

An excess amount of rust on the undercarriage of your car is the most obvious sign of corrosion. If you notice any signs of undercarriage damage, you should have one of our trusted mechanics inspect your vehicle. This corrosion is not only unsightly, but it leads to problems such as decreased braking power and acceleration, a shaky muffler, or even a frozen emergency brake.

To prevent rusting and corrosion of the undercarriage, you should clean your vehicle as best as you can regularly during the cold winter months. Once the season is over, give it a very thorough cleaning.

Don’t Trust Just Anyone, Trust the Experts at Meridian Automotive

Are your brakes up to no good this winter? If so, visit Meridian Automotive, to stop those cold weather brake problems in their tracks. We’ve been Meridian’s auto repair experts for over 25 years. Call us today at (208) 888-3797 or schedule an appointment online.

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