Mobile Detailing Services

Brake Dust is Bad

By: Adam Churchwell

What is it?

Brake dust is iron, carbon, and other metallic particles that become air born from the grinding of your brake pad and rotor.  The heat of that braking friction combined with the heat of the wheel spinning cause these dust particles to bond to your wheel.

Dirty Wheel

Why do we clean wheels in every wash?

Brake dust is not a sign of brake failure.  It just a normal reaction that occurs when braking.  However if left uncleaned, it is harmful to wheels, trim, and your vehicle’s paint.  It’s also ugly to boot.  Pun intended.

Regular washing of your wheels prevents the deposits from having the opportunity to cause this damage.  The iron deposits that cling to your wheel are also exposed to all the elements your wheels face.  They may rust and that could spread over other metal surfaces on your vehicle.    Special cleaners are designed to separate these particles from your wheels and paint.

Can you do it yourself?

Yes, of course.  Products are available online and in local stores.  But make sure to read the labels. Some wheel cleaners are acids and can be harmful to your skin. Even worse, they can cause damage to your vehicle if they dry.

If you are going to go it alone, bring a separate bucket for water and soap to clean your wheels with.  You don’t want that heavy dirt and metallic particles to get on your wash mitt.  Second, keep the wheel cool.  Let it sit without driving for a few hours, rinse the wheel before applying cleaner, and keep it wet while agitating with brushes or rags.  Rinse regularly to keep chemicals from drying.

Can I Prevent Brake Dust?

While not entirely, to some extent you can.  There are brake pads out there that do not contain carbon but instead are made of kevlar.  This limits brake dust considerably.  You can also apply a ceramic coating to your wheels which limits how well iron and metallic particles bond to your wheel surface.   You can find more information on coatings here.