Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Burning Smell From Your Brakes — What It Means

A burning smell from your brakes is usually the sign of a serious problem

If your brake are new, a burning smell from your brakes is normal. New brake pads have to go through a process called polymerization, where the binding resins heat up and cure. The burning smell is similar to burning plastic and sometimes the hot pads generate some smoke. Both the smell and the smoke are normal an they usually go away in about two days of driving. If it goes on longer than that, take it back to the shop and have them double check their work.

If you have a burning smell from your brakes and they’re not new

Then that can be the sign of a serious overheating problem. Brake overheating can be caused by:

Seized caliper slide pins that prevent the caliper from releasing properly. That keeps the

corroded brake caliper pins can cause a seized brake caliper and a burning smell from your brakes

Corroded slide pins

pads in constant contact with the rotor, causing them to overheat.

Seized brake pads in the abutment. Pads are designed to move slightly in the abutment grooves. Rust jacking (expanding rust) can cause the pads to bind and stay in contact with the rotor even if you’re not braking.

Square-cut O-ring failure. the square-cut O-ring inside the caliper is designed to roll forward during brake application and then “roll back” the caliper piston when you release the brakes. Old hardened O-rings can fail to retract the piston, causing the pads to stay in contact with the rotor and overheat.

collapsed brake hose

Collapsed brake hose

An hydraulic failure can prevent the brake fluid pressure from releasing when you lift your foot off the brake pedal. The restriction can be in the flexible rubber brake line or a clogged valve in the ABS unit.

corroded abs valve piston

corroded abs valve piston

What to do if you smell burning brakes

If you catch the problem early, you can sometimes save the brakes. So get your brakes inspected at the first sign of a burning smell or smoke.

©, 2022 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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