closeup rusty brakeBrakes are one of your car’s most crucial parts. Yet, when your vehicle is left in the garage or driveway for long periods of time, rust can start to develop.

Brake composition, which includes steel and cast iron, tends to be rust-prone. While these materials lend strength, durability and handle heat better than other metals, they can both rust the rotors, calipers and brake pads in a relatively short time.

How Rusting Occurs

Unless you’re driving a high-end vehicle with carbon-ceramic brake rotors, a small amount of rust may start to form on your car’s brake system. Regular driving wears and grinds off this surface accumulation and prevents rust from causing a greater damage.

Unfortunately, steel and iron are both susceptible to corrosion when exposed to moisture. When you park outdoors overnight, any moisture from rain, dew or snow gathers on the surface of the rotors and forms a superficial layer of rust. You might hear a grinding or squealing sound when you start the car but as it moves and you apply the brakes, the pads scrub off any rust accumulation from the rotors.

Because this effect is relatively consistent and most people drive at least a few times per week, the rust rarely has a chance to affect the braking system’s performance.

How to Reduce Rusted Brake Components

Many car owners look for ways to reduce brake rusting. As a general rule of thumb, start by parking your car in a dry, moisture-free space, such as a temperature-controlled garage. However, several factors may affect how quickly your brake system rusts.

Road Salt

Due to its proximity to the ground, the car’s undercarriage and brake system are more prone to rusting. Especially if you live in an area with regular snowfall and ice storms, get in the habit of cleaning the undercarriage of all salt deposits and debris.


When moisture is regularly in the air, parking your vehicle outdoors increases the risk of brake rusting.

Which Part is Rusting?

In terms of damage, not all parts are created equal. For instance, when the backing plate that supports the brake pad starts to rust, the plate weakens and may cause the brake pad to chip, crack, detach from the system or stop working entirely. As a result, you may find it harder to stop and control your vehicle, which increases your accident risks.

To counteract this effect, corrosion-resistant paint may be applied to the backing plate, but the paint chips away over time and becomes more vulnerable to rusting.

However, rusting brake pads are still a cause for concern. If this part begins to rust, the pad experiences uneven wear and does not perform up to par, failing to scrape all rust from the rotors once you begin to drive. In turn, the rotors also start to experience corrosion. Because the brake pad cannot be sanded down at this point, the part will need to be fully replaced.
Whether you’re having brake system issues or you would like to rustproof your vehicle, schedule an appointment with us today.