Brake dust

Brake dust and how to get rid of it.

B rake dust is very unsightly and unwelcome on wheels and certain types of brake dust that have a ferrous content (steel fibre) can actually burn into the lacquer on alloy wheels and cause permanent discolouration. EBC Brakes has worked hard at reducing dust emitted by its brake pads for years and now has some market leading solutions. First of all, you have to understand that the dust caused by brake pads is only partly coming from the pad itself with pad material elements such as carbon or graphite or the ferrous steel fibre particles mentioned above.

EBC Brakes have conducted tests on brake dust and found that over 90% is the element Fe which is iron or steel ferrous elements and must have come from the brake rotor itself. This leads us to the conclusion that brake disc or brake rotor abrasion is key to the amount of dust generated. By reducing disc or rotor abrasion brake dust can be therefore significantly reduced and by using a lower pad content of carbon materials or steel fibre the dust can be almost totally eliminated.

One of the drawbacks of a very low dust pad can be thermal issues as the pad relies upon the metallic elements to a large degree for heat conduction keeping the rotor cooler. EBC achieve this by using non-ferrous alloys which can include copper and other semi-metals. Cheaper disc pads achieve thermal conductivity with a high steel fibre content which can exceed 50% in lower cost base brake pads. There are other issues to consider when designing a low dust brake pad which can lead to the elimination of tar deposits and the development of DTV (disc thickness variation) which we will explain in a future technical publication.

In conclusion, brake dust can be reduced over typical OEM semi-metallic pads by up to 90% and still having a superb brake product in terms of performance and wear life. EBC’s best example of this is its 7000 series Greenstuff SUV pads which reduce dust by 60-70% compared to semi-metallics and its latest generation Redstuff pads which reduce dust by over 90%. EBC Redstuff 2009 formulation is probably the closest thing that exists to a no dust brake pad at this time and as such EBC Redstuff are a hot favourite amongst drivers of prestige cars especially European built models that are famously seen driving around with a dark grey front wheel and a silver grey rear wheel.

Some drivers have used brake dust shields or brake dust covers to prevent dust deposits on wheels. BMW brake dust has been the source of many questions to us in recent years and we reularly get questions about brake dust cleaner for cleaning brake dust from wheels. In 2001 EBC Brakes won the AUTOTRADE INNOVATION AWARD for it’s low dust brake formulations.

The photos below show a typical comparison of a wheel with OEM brake pads and those used with EBC Redstuff 2009 generation low dust pads.

Wheel with Original pads (semi metallics)

After 8 weeks of driving and not cleaning the car ONCE this is how wheels with Original pads or aftermarket semi metallic pads will look. Wheels coated in black hi-ferrous dust (contains iron from the pads and rotors) that eats into your wheels and lacquer and needs a scratch pad or
scrubbing brush to remove.

Wheel with EBC Redstuff

After the same 8 weeks there is nothing but a minor amount of Road Dirt on the wheels, zero dust. The road dirt would wash off in a drive through car wash or with a garden hose. Plus the performance from EBC Redstuff leaves most aftermarket pads years behind.