Saturday, 8 August 2015

Brake Callipers and Rotors

Brake dust

The brake pad material (semi-metallic, carbon resins, asbestos or ceramics formulations) rubbing against the rotor disperses tiny particles of black dust, which forms a cohesive bond to the wheels and adheres to localized paint surfaces. Brake dust comprises is a combination of ferrous metal particles, which tends to oxidize and when they come into contact with moisture will form rust and set-up galvanic corrosion.

 Finally there is brake pad adhesive,  modern brake pads are complex compounds of metals, synthetic materials and adhesives (the binder system) which is designed to wear away under friction like the rest of the pad. The adhesives used in brake pads can be very difficult to remove and they are also corrosive and will etch the wheel surface, the metal particles from the pads and rotors will become a conduit for rust compromising the paint surface of the paint surface. The adhesives used can be very hard to remove, use a safe solvent like Stoner’s Tarminator™

Ceramic brake pads incorporate a formula that includes ceramic materials and utilizes less metal (approximately 15% metal content by weight). Ceramic brake pads combine exceptional braking power with very quiet and low-dust braking

Detailer’s clay will remove most but not all of the iron particulate that is the cause of the rust "blooming", to for a corrosion decontamination system to be effective requires the complete removal of all particulates and  the corrosive acids they generate that have penetrated the wheels surface or the  paint's resin system.

                      Decontamination Treatment- heavy deposits of ferrous oxide will require removal with a decontamination treatment (C.Quartz IronX) this will remove the deposits and ensure against rust formation.

Using detailer’s clay with will remove any surface contaminants after the ferrous oxide removal process. The front wheels are usually more soiled, as this is where most of the vehicle braking effectiveness is.

For badly soiled surfaces use an undiluted citrus-based APC (P21S® Total Auto Wash), then use detailer’s clay followed by a pH controlled cleaner (Sonax Extreme Wheel Cleaner) apply a polymer surface protection to ensure easier future cleaning (Klasse All-In-One)

To remove brake dust stains use a mildly abrasive cleaner (Zaino Z-AIO All-In-One or P21S® Multi-Surface Finish)

A warning about acids and HF

Of all the chemicals used in the detail business, wheel acids are the most dangerous to the wheel, the employee and the environment. Many contain Hydrofluoric (HF) acid which is extremely harmful if you get it on your skin, in your eyes or inhale it and is not recommended.

With any wheel acid, you should always wear safety equipment. This means glasses and gloves; and the work should be done in a well-ventilated area.

Non-acid wheel cleaners, while not as dangerous, have a high pH (12 or 13). They are harmful to your eyes and will severely dry out your hands if not used with gloves. So do not be fooled into thinking that they are not dangerous. They will also etch a paint surface just like an acid

Also, repeated use of wheel acid can break down in the resin in the clear-coat and cause it to cloud and/or deteriorate. So use acid only when absolutely necessary.


Zinc Aero Rotors are available either drilled or slotted, an optional anti-corrosion gold zinc coating benefits those who live in cold climates, where snow and road salt are commonly encountered. Zinc coating also benefits Concours d’élégance detailers who prefer no visible surface rust on the vanes and outer circumference of rotors Quick Stop Pro

Removing Rust from Rotors
Hyde’s Rustopper was designed to prevent “rust dust” – the initial brake dust on clean wheels that occurs after washing. Acid-free, pH-neutral formula will not attack wheel coatings, lug nuts or braking systems, contains Sodium Nitrite. Avoid contact with eyes and skin. Use in well ventilated areas.  Safe on all types of steel and alloy wheels (including chrome and polished wheels), anodized finishes and single stage paints. (Detailers Domain)
1. After cleaning wheel and braking system, rinse thoroughly with water and let excess water drip for several seconds.
2. From a close distance, apply liberally to brake rotor surface, spraying in a sweeping motion around the rotor face at least two times.
3. The liquid may fizz as it reacts with the iron rotor. Finally, wipe any excess liquid inside wheel.
And remember: Just because it cleans faster than non-acid does not mean you should always use it.

Safe Degreaser

If you want to safely degrease your vehicles callipers, Optimum Power Clean is an excellent choice. It is an environmentally safe product that can also clean your paint, wheels, tires, engine bay, wheel wells, trim and etc. The strong cleaning agents break down bug smear, road grime, brake dust, dirt, etc. Optimum Power Clean is also a great value because you can dilute it 3:1 with distilled water or use it full strength.

Brake callipers are rough cast ductile iron on most production cars, so it's not something you can polish to remove any stains, on ultra-high performance cars they are usually aluminium.  

A way to spice up the look and at the same time protects the callipers from corrosion. The Calliper Paint System features aircraft quality paint, available in six different high gloss colours, Red, Yellow, Blue, Silver, Black, & Purple. The paint is heat resistant up to 925 oF; this paint won't start running into your brake pads, it also seals and protects against corrosion.
Brake dust and dirt will not adhere to the calliper surface since adding the paint. 

The kit includes everything you'll need to get the job done, besides paint you'll also get reactor (special bonding agent), high tech calliper cleaner, mixing sticks, and a brush. Do not attempt to paint the rotor contact surface.

Application- a multi-layer gives the best results; the first coat thin, second coat medium thickness, allowing cure/dry time between coats and the final coat will act as filler, providing a gloss finish. G2-Performance Engineering Inc

Cleaning- use caution when cleaning as the finish on some callipers use a powder coating (Brembo, etc.) that can be stained by some wheel cleaners. Always ensure that the brake callipers are cool to the touch; never use a cleaner on hot callipers, wheels or brakes. Use a pH balanced cleaner just for an extra level of safety. 

Spray the cool calliper with d-limonene (citrus) based solvent P21S® Wheel Cleaner Gel or P21S® Polishing Soap, which contains micro-abrasives, agitate with a soft brush (Swissvax Detail Brush) and then rinse off with clean water. Wipe surfaces with a soft wash mitt, sponge or micro fibre towel.

Protection - apply a protection to the face of the calliper using a polymer sealant (the melting point of most waxes is too low for the heat attained by wheel / calliper surfaces) similar to that used on your paint (Wheel Wax, Zanio, Duragloss, Opti-Seal, etc.)

MGP Calliper Covers -• Enhance your wheel appearance and protects the wheels from brake dust. Ideal as a semi-permanent installation (lease vehicles, etc.) Easy installation, less than 10 minutes Construction- 6061-T6 aerospace aluminium, bridge union is TIG welded for strength. CNC precision engraving for customization, hydraulically formed to fit each calliper with a patented fastening system, powder coating and custom paint match

Powder Coated
This process typically involves temperatures ranging from 345 -410.OF (175 to 210.OC) for 30 minutes. Aluminium alloy wheels made of alloy 6061 contain magnesium and silicon to help improve strength and resistance to hot cracking, and would not be expected to suffer a significant decrease in its strength following powder coating that involved temperatures of up to 410.OF degrees for up to 30 minutes.
This type of coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder. The main difference between a conventional liquid paint and a powder coating is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler parts in a liquid suspension form. The coating is typically applied electrostatically and is then cured under heat to allow it to flow and form a "skin".
The powder may be a thermoplastic or a thermoset polymer. It is usually used to create a hard finish that is tougher than conventional paint. Once installed, maintaining the initial appearance of a powder coating is a simple matter.
Powder coated surfaces are more resistant to chipping, scratching, fading, and wearing than other finishes. Most dirt and oil will come off with simple soap and water.
Powder coating provides a robust finish and polishing can be done with a micro fibre towel and polishing compound (Menzerna FF 3000 – Final Finish Polish (PO85U)) and a Lake County (LC) White or Black foam pad to restore scratched surfaces. C heck surface temps as heat will drive scratches deeper into the finish.
DO NOT attempt to clean hot wheels surfaces; allow cooling down time, otherwise you may cause structural damage to the wheels and cause the rotors and/or callipers to warp, making them inoperative. Be cognizant that if any surfactant, high alkaline or acid based cleaner is applied, it will cause discoloration to powder coating. Brake cleaner will dry the seals out;  Brembo lost a (US) lawsuit when someone had brake failure after fitting replacement seals so now they will only sell the complete calliper.
Other automotive cleaning products also work well. Do not use break cleaners, or other harsh chemicals. Powder coat is much more resistant to these types of chemicals but may dull glossy finishes.
The road dirt and grime which builds up on surfaces from time to time contains moisture and salts which will adversely affect the powder coating and must be removed
Polishing can be done with a micro fibre towel and polishing compound (Menzerna PO 85) and a Lake County (LC) White or Black foam pad to restore scratched surfaces
  •                 Allow wheel surface to cool down
  •                 Hose off as much initial grime as you can.
  •                 Rinse up into the wheel well to wash away road kill, mud and other debris.
  •                 Use detailing clay and lubrication to remove any embedded contaminants                   Use a d-limonene (citrus) based cleaner to remove any road tar or oil(P21S®            Total Auto Wash)  to wheel surfaces and let soak in, agitate with a long-handled       boar’s haired brush before rinsing
  •                   Remove bake dust with C.Quartz IronX or Sonax Wheel Cleaner
  •                   Rinse wheel surface and then  dry thoroughly
  •                   And then apply a clear WOWO protectant (Zaino Z-CS Clear Seal)

Ceramic Disc Pads

Asbestos pads caused health issues and organic compounds can’t always meet a wide range of braking requirements. Unfortunately the steel strands used in semi-metallic pads to provide strength and conduct heat away from rotors also generate noise and are abrasive enough to increase rotor wear. Wear also cause ferrous oxide dust that looks unsightly and is also corrosive. First used as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in ’85, friction materials that contain ceramic formulations

·     Ensure that the ceramic brake pads and rotors match (a ceramic system) otherwise you will have problems with stopping when the pads / rotors are cold or wet, which could warp the rotors and cause bearings to fail due to overheating.
·          Although a ceramic brake disc absorbs heat faster than a steel brake disc, it is also able to disperse it quickly. A consistently high braking performance is therefore guaranteed.
·          One of the characteristics that make ceramic materials attractive is the absence of noticeable dust. All brake pads produce dust (including ceramics) as they wear. The ingredients in ceramic compounds produce a light coloured dust that is much less noticeable and less likely to stick to the wheels. Consequently, wheels and tires maintain a cleaner appearance longer.
·           To avoid brake-generated noise and dust brake friction materials have evolved significantly over the years, going from asbestos to organic to semi-metallic formulations. Each of these materials has proven to have advantages and disadvantages regarding environmental friendliness, wear, and noise and stopping capability.
·           Using ceramic compounds and copper fibres in place of the semi-metallic pad’s steel fibres, allows the ceramic pads to handle high brake temperatures with less heat fade, provide faster recovery after a stop, and generate less dust and wear on both the pads and rotors.
·          From a comfort standpoint, ceramic compounds provide much quieter braking because the ceramic compound helps dampen noise by generating a frequency beyond the human hearing range. Another characteristic that makes ceramic materials attractive is the absence of noticeable dust. All brake pads produce dust as they wear. The ingredients in ceramic compounds produce a light coloured dust that is much less noticeable; consequently, wheels and tires maintain a cleaner appearance longer.
·          Ceramic pads meet or exceed all OEM standards for durability, stopping distance and noise. According to durability tests, ceramic compounds extend brake life compared to most other semi-metallic and organic materials and outlast other premium pad materials by a significant margin; with no sacrifice in noise control, pad life or braking performance. What is important though is that car's rotors are designed for ceramic pads; otherwise the rotors will typically wear faster. (Check with the vehicle manufacturer)
·          Ceramic rotors will absorb any material that comes in contact with them. On vehicles that are equipped with ceramic braking components; car-wash shampoo and water or P21S Wheel Cleaners will not cause damage, or create unsafe conditions, and /or void their warranties. Avoid using any products that contain silicone as it can permeate the carbon-ceramic material and negatively affect the friction and thereby the braking efficiency.

Any diluted car wash concentrate, d-limonene (citrus) based cleaner (P21S® High Performance Total Auto Wash) or pH neutral cleaner (P21S Wheel Cleaner) should be fine to use on ceramic brakes as they produce very little brake dust (being non-metallic) they just attract the normal amount of road dust, dirt and grime

Always be willing to learn; because the more you learn, the more you’ll realize what you don’t know. It is said that knowledge is power, with the caveat that it includes access to a reliable information sources. I would like to think that these articles become an asset to anyone who is new to detailing and to professional’s alike, as well as industry experts who seek to advance their knowledge.
I hope these articles are informative. They are based on the current status of technical development as well as my experience with the products.

By having some understanding of the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ as well as the ‘How’ along with a little science to help you understand how the chemicals we use react, you can achieve the results you desire.

I would appreciate it if you would share these articles as it helps other detailers further their knowledge.

As always if you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer; bear in mind the only stupid questions is the one that was unasked. Questions and/ or constructive comments are always appreciated

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