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How Hot Do Your Car Brake Pads and Rotors Get?

Among the parts that receive a lot of punishment when driving are your car brake pads and rotors. Using a heat sensitive FLIR T1k infrared camera, the video here explores how hot the parts get during your travels.

Engineering Explained takes a close look at one of the rear disc brakes of a Honda S2000 using a thermal cam to demonstrate how their temperatures rise during your trips. First, the presenter divides the wheel of the car into five data points namely the edge, rotor, the point where the rotor exits the caliper, wheel hub and the back of the brake pad.

Then he observes the points as he starts running the rear wheels in first gear. Here, it is amazing to note that the heat levels detected by the thermal cam in the rear wheel are somewhat uneven in some portions. The hand brake is slightly applied, which bring about some changes in the temperature of the brake disc.

Eventually, he revs up the engine while still applying the rear parking brake slowly. That’s where we can see that the areas surrounding the wheel hub are really rising in temperature.

The hottest part detected by the thermal cam among the five data points is the third point, or the area after the rotor passes through the brake pad. A significant increase can be observed in the heat indicators displayed on the left side of the screen despite the very short distance between points 2 and 3. For example in video, the point before reaching the brake pad would only be 44.9 degrees Celsius compared to the 72 degrees Celsius it generates after passing through it.

Outside the five data points, the very edge of the rotor shows a higher temperature in the wheel. Pushing the gas pedal up to 3,000 RPM yields as much as 140 degrees Celsius for that area.

It should be noted that the car we are watching here is not really brand new, so results may vary. However, the presentation should serve as a reminder for us to always check our brake fluids and braking system regularly to minimize the wear and tear of our brake discs and for us to have a safe driving experience.

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