Cleaning Brake Dust: Where It Comes From, And How To Get Rid Of It

June 14th, 2016 by




We’ve all seen it before: that grimy, coal-like dust that gathers on the outside of a hubcap. For some drivers, this is just another issue to ignore for another day – definitely not a great option, by any means. But for some drivers, this can be an unnecessary scare, creating an aura of fear that dust leads to rust, and that rust leads to damage – or disintegration. But the reality is actually a happy medium in between – meaning that while brake dust is an issue that should be taken care of, it’s not an immediate emergency.

First, let’s take a look at what causes brake dust, how you can avoid it in the future, and how to prevent it from getting so bad you need brake repair service in Albany, NY. Then, we’ll see what can be done about a brake dust problem, and how to get your wheels looking back to normal in no time.

What Exactly Is Brake Dust?

You may notice that brake dust around your wheels gets worse the longer you go driving your vehicle – and that’s no coincidence. The dust itself is actually a mixture of iron and carbon that’s scraped from your brake rotor as a result of friction between the brake pads and the rotor itself. When semi-metallic parts of the pads get worn they can rub against the rotor, grinding off small amounts into a thick dust that settles on your wheel and hubcap.

Apart from regularly washing your wheels, there are a few long-term solutions to preventing the buildup of brake dust on your vehicle. First among these is choosing high-quality brake pads, which use more advanced materials to provide better braking power – thereby reducing friction by reducing stopping time – and can limit the amount of metal-on-metal contact with fewer metallic components. These premium pads can be more expensive than the more affordable options, but will likely leave your car free of that nasty dust buildup. Drivers can also consider a specialized dust shield for their braking systems, which help divert dust away from the wheels with one easily-installed part.

Great… But How Do I Get Rid Of The Dust That’s There?

Want to rid your wheels of that unsightly brake dust buildup? The process isn’t hard at all – although it might take a little bit of elbow grease.

First off, protect yourself. That means finding goggles, a face mask, and gloves – all of which will help protect your eyes, lungs, and skin from the dust itself, which can be irritating and potentially dangerous over long periods of exposure. Next, try and remove your hubcap for easier cleaning – not necessary, but helpful for a particularly nasty job.

Next, it’s time to get in and get dirty. That means scrubbing your hubcap, and maybe even your wheel’s inner workings, with hot and soapy water. Specialized brake dust scrapers can help provide a little muscle to scrape off what’s there, but in most cases a scrub glove, wire brush, or power washer should do the job. You might find special dust cleaning chemicals in your local automotive shop that can help remove dust even easier, and may even help protect against buildup in the future.

So there you have it – the best ways to tackle brake dust and how to keep it from coming back. Take care of your wheels and they’ll take care of you – and won’t let you down due to an easily solvable problem.