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If you have ever taken a drive around the Tucson foothills, or up to Mt Lemon, you are probably familiar with the changes in elevation and curvy, steep mountain roads. Something you will often hear on these drives is, “don’t ride the brakes!” If you fail to heed this warning, you are likely to experience the rather unpleasant smell of burning brakes.

What is the Burning Smell Coming from my Brakes

What causes your brakes to smell as though they are sizzling? There are a few possibilities.

Brakes are Overheating

To stop your vehicle from moving, your brakes use friction. Friction produces heat. When you overuse or brake aggressively (like we described above), your brakes can overheat. You will know when the burning smell indicates overheating brakes as it is often accompanied by the tell-tale squealing sound and/or spongy brake pedal. Avoid pressing aggressively and continuously on the brakes, especially on hilly/mountainous roads, to prevent such a problem. Instead, try and keep your ride smooth and steady.

New Brake Components

It is not uncommon to notice a sort of burning smell coming from your brakes if you have just recently had them replaced or serviced. In this case, the new part(s) is likely to blame. The smell is most likely the resin in the brake pads curing. Think of it as breaking in a new pair of sneakers. You needn’t be alarmed in this situation unless you also notice a lack of braking power or the smell lasts for more than a few days. If you are unsure, play it safe and have your brakes inspected.

You Didn’t Disengage the Parking Brake

If you parked on an incline overnight and now as you drive to work your brakes smell like they’re cooking, is it perhaps because you forgot to disengage your parking brake before you took off? Believe it or not, this is a very common mistake!

Parking brakes are designed to keep your vehicle from rolling (on hills and such) when it is parked. Forcing your vehicle to move while it is engaged is just begging for your braking system to become overheated. If you notice the situation quickly, the damage would likely be minimal. However, there is also a chance that the damage could be severe enough that you should take immediate action to fix it.

Driving with the parking brake engaged, even partially, can warp a disc or drum. If things get really hot, the lining adhesive can fail and crack or separate from the brake pads or shoes. If you notice that you’ve been driving with the parking brake engaged, it is probably best to bring your vehicle in for a quick inspection. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Accurate Service- Automotive Service and Repair You Can Trust

Unless your brake components have just recently been replaced, a burning smell that comes from them likely indicates a problem that should be addressed. Schedule a brake check at Accurate Service today. We meet all your automotive repair and service needs in Tucson, Arizona. Call today at 520-620-9129 or schedule an appointment online at your convenience!