Why Do I Smell Burning Odors When I Apply the Brakes?

You shouldn’t smell anything overheat when you apply your brakes. If you are forced to slam on the brakes to stop short, you might smell burning rubber, but this odor is coming from your tires. Otherwise, braking your automobile should be an odorless, smooth, and quiet operation. If it isn’t, Buellton Garage warns that you have a problem with your vehicle’s brake system, and this problem should be tended to immediately. If you smell burning odors when you brake…

Your Brakes Are Overheating

Overheating brakes will smell hot. Your brakes can overheat because there is something wrong with them, because you are sitting in stop-and-go traffic, or because you are riding them, which basically means you never take your foot off the brake pedal. You should only depress the brake pedal when you need to slow down and stop. Keeping your foot on the pedal keeps the brakes slightly engaged and makes them too hot.

The Specific Odors

There are different odors depending on which part of the brake system is overheating. For example, if your brake fluid is too hot, you will smell a burning chemical odor. As the brakes overheat, the brake pads will also glaze, which means they get smooth. Glazed brake pads smell like burning carpet. You may also smell burning metal if the rotors are glazed, as well.

The Dangers of Overheated Brakes

We cannot stress this enough: If your brakes are overheating, you are in a very dangerous situation. Once the brakes get too hot, they will fail. Overheated brakes run into a number of problems. The first problem is that the glazed brake pads and rotors cannot generate the friction the brakes need to stop your automobile. If the brake fluid is boiling, it will also lose its ability to work as a hydraulic fluid and this, too, prevents your vehicle from stopping.

What You Should Do Next

With this in mind, the natural next step if you believe that your brakes are overheating is to find a safe place to pull your automobile over to stop it. Put it in park and shut the engine down to allow your brakes to cool. This can take as much as 30 minutes, so be patient. If the brakes begin to overheat once you start driving again, pull over and call for a tow truck.

Even if your brakes don’t overheat again, it’s a good idea to bring your vehicle to our shop so we can inspect them. Buellton Garage is the best garage in Buellton, CA, and we are brake system experts.

Photo by AdrianHancu from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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