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How do you effectively apply brake lubricant yourself on your brake system?

You can simply apply a suitable amount of brake lubricant on brake pad ears, caliper housing side for brake pads, and caliper slide pins. However, there are some areas you shouldn't lubricate it.

 When I write this article, I try to include best practices that you can hardly find online. I have collected all the crucial data you might need to lubricate your vehicle brake smoothly.

Why lubing the brake system with brake lubricant is very significant?
Why does a squealing noise appear when applying brakes?
How to apply brake lubricant on brake system components?
So, where exactly should you apply the brake lubricant?
What are the appropriate types of brake lubricant should you use?
How can you distinguish between grease, lubricant, and anti-seize?
Can you apply brake lubricant on the brake system without removing the tire?

Why lubing the brake system with brake lubricant is very significant?

applying brake lubricant

Some people think the lubing brake system is an extra maintenance for the vehicle. But the fact is applying brake lubricant is a crucial method to keep your brake performance well.

  • Brake lubricant prevents and eliminates brake squeal and noise generated from the friction of the brake system components.
  • It reduces premature wear and tear of brake pads so it extends brake pads life.
  • Actually, not only does it protect the brake pad but also it protects the whole brake system against corrosion and improves its longevity.
  • Brake lubricant reduces vibration in the brake pedal and steering wheel.
  • Brake lubricant also avoids brake pad dragging ( adherence of the brake pad to the rotor without applying brake) and so it prevents pad dragging circumstances like increased fuel consumption, loss of steering control, and rise in brake temperature.
  • Generally, lubricated brakes improve braking performance and quicker response time.

personally, I usually lube my brake system in some cases like:

  • When I decide to replace the brake pad, I do lubrication simultaneously.
  • Each time I feel a vibration in the steering wheel or in the brake pedal when I press the brake.
  • If I hear a squealing noise at the moment of braking, I know it is time to lube the brake system.
  • Also, I recommend using brake lubricant regularly if you have a heavily repeated stop-and-go driving experience.
  • Driving in dusty areas or seaside areas accelerates brake pad corrosion so it needs to be lubricated more frequently.
  • If you drive your vehicle for an interrupted long period, you might need to lube the brake before you drive the vehicle.

Generally, it is recommended to grease your brake at least every year or every 30000-70000 miles.

Why does a squealing noise appear when applying brakes?

non lubricated brake system

Squealing noise is one of the bad brake signs that bother you when you apply brakes. It may come from.

  • The main reason is the lack of lubrication in the brake system.
  • The friction between brake pads, caliper, and caliper disc may cause the noise.
  • Also, the Misalignment of brake pads causes vibration against the rotor.
  • Worn or glazed brake pads. The heat and friction make the brake pads wear and produce a squealing sound.
  • Corroded brake discs have grooves and lines which produce the sound.
  • A sticky caliper pen may be the reason for the noise.
  • Dust and dirt between brake system components can cause pad grinding and noisy sound.

To be clear, not all brake squeal is related to issues in the brake system. Sometimes the squeal is due to high-frequency vibration somewhere in the wheel end like bad control arm bushing.

Other signs of a bad braking system.

  • A clear sign of the brake light on.
  • If you feel spongy and vibration in the brake pedal or steering wheel when applying brakes.
  • A burning smell also may show a bad brake system.
  • Weak braking performance. When you notice the vehicle does not stop as quickly as before, it tells you about the bad brake system.
  • You can check the condition of the brake pad with the naked eye for any corrosion found.

How to apply brake lubricant on brake system components?

applying lubricant on housing side of brake pad and slide pin.

You can easily lube your brake system yourself as I have done.

In the beginning, it is better to check the manufacturer’s manual to know the best type of lubricant for your vehicle, the lubrication method for your vehicle, and how often you have to lubricate the brake system.

  1. First, prepare these tools ( brake piston tool-torque wrench- Allen/torx set-brake line wrench).
  2. Take off the brake pad after you have removed the tire out of the vehicle then make sure that your brake is cool before you start.
  3. Now, use the wire brush to thoroughly clean dirt, rust debris, or any contamination found in the caliper, caliper bracket, caliper disc, caliper slide pin, and all metal-to-metal contact points in the brake system.
  4. Then spray brake cleaner on those areas in the brake system and wipe with a soft cloth.
  5. Apply an extra layer of Alu-Zinc corrosion protectant.
  6. From my experience, you have to apply only a thin layer of suitable brake lubricant to (metal-to-metal) and (metal-to rubber) friction points like the guide pin, slide pin, brake pad edges, around the piston, and so on.
  7. Make attention to avoid any grease on the friction side for both the brake pads and rotor.
  8. Finally, reassemble every part back together and repeat the process for all wheels.
  9. Now it is time to make a test drive to check the brake system performance.
    • You have to avoid hard braking at the first 200 km of brake pads replacement.
    • Stationary test. Press the brake pedal several times while the vehicle is parked. If the pedal is too soft, the lubrication process might be a problem.
    • Slow speed test. In this test, drive slowly in a safe space and press the brake pedal at different pressures. This will create a layer of friction material on the rotor surface which gives your brake a smoother and quieter response.
    • High-speed test. After you are confident of the brake system. at slightly high speed, drive your vehicle on a straight road with minimal traffic then apply braking at different pressures. The vehicle should stop in a straight line without any vibrations or noises.
    • Emergency stop test. Press the brake pedal hard and fast while driving at moderate speed. The vehicle should stop quickly without swerving. Take care of the behind vehicles in this test.

From my practical point of view, the appropriate amount of applied brake lubricant is very important. Over-lubrication makes the lubricant drip to the brake pad’s friction surface and rotor. This will diminish brake performance. While under lubrication causes a squealing sound and might end up with complete brake system failure.

So, where exactly should you apply the brake lubricant?

areas of applying brake lubricant

Not all brake system components accept the brake lubricant as it might cause damage to certain parts of the brake system like rubber materials.

Spots where you should apply brake lubricant.

  • Brake pads caliper housing side.
  • Outer edges of the brake pads.
  • Also, grease the 4 points on the bracket for the hardware kit that holds the brake pad.
  • Guide pins beside the piston.
  • bracket slide pins.
  • Also, lube the outer rim of the piston.
  • It is optional to lubricate the back surface of the brake pads ( noise reduction shim).
  • At abutment clips after they are installed in the caliper ( optional).
  • Also apply grease on caliper slides, bushings, brake cables, and linkages.
  • In the case of the drum brake system, apply lubricant on the self-adjuster and backing plate that supports the brake shoes.

Spots where you shouldn’t apply brake lubricant.

  • Never lubricate the friction side of the brake pad nor the surface of the rotor otherwise the vehicle will take a longer distance to stop and an accident may happen.
  • Avoid lubricating the caliper surface as it will attract dirt and dust that can stick to the brake pads and cause the caliper to be stuck.
  • Don’t lubricate any rubber or plastic material in the brake system.
  • You shouldn’t spray WD-40 on brake pads as some people do.
  • In the case of drum brake systems, never lubricate the inside of the brake drum where the brake shoes interact with the drum, nor the friction surface of the brake lining.

What are the appropriate types of brake lubricant should you use?

brake lubricant

Most people wrongly think that they can use ordinary lubricant in car brake systems which might completely destroy the brake system.

Ordinary grease cannot withstand high temperatures like brake lubricant so it will drip to the pad friction surface or rotor and cause braking failure. it is also incompatible with rubber parts.

  • Silicone-based brake lubricant is widely used in lubricating vehicle brakes due to its heat resistance properties and its safety to plastic and rubber parts.
  • Dry film lubricant that contains either graphite or molybdenum disulfide is mainly used in drum brake systems. It forms a thin strong lubricating film that lasts for a long duration under extreme conditions.
  • Don’t use copper-based lubricant as it causes electrochemical corrosion and sticks at high temperatures.
  • Don’t use petroleum-based lubricants as they are incompatible with rubber or plastic materials.

Golden advises when you buy brake lubricant. it must be

  • Metal-free.
  • High-temperature resistance( effective temperature range of 400 degrees).
  • Rubber compatible.

Actually, I have gathered some information regarding the prices of some brake lubricants.

  • For silicon-based lubricants, the price can range from 10$-25$ per container.
  • For petroleum-based lubricants, the price can range from 5$-15$ per container.
  • For dry graphite film lubricant, the price can range from 15$- 30$ per container.

How can you distinguish between grease, lubricant, and anti-seize?

By knowing the differences between the 3 materials, you can easily select the right lubricant according to the usage purpose.

Grease is a general expression for lubricant which can be used for different purposes. it is semi semi-solid compound that sticks to the surfaces to provide lubricity and improve motion, but don’t apply it on dirty surfaces as it attracts the debris and contaminants.

Lube often has a lower viscosity and usually is a sprayable liquid that provides thin layer protection and doesn’t attract debris.

Anti-seize is not defined as a lubricant. It can liquify easily in high temperatures and dry out quickly. Anti Seize used only to diminish the corrosion and prevent rust.

Don’t make my mistake and buy any lubricant for your vehicle’s brake. it must be labeled as (brake lubricant).

Can you apply brake lubricant on the brake system without removing the tire?

Unfortunately, there is no way to lubricate your brake without tire removal.

Instead, some people spray dust cleaner on the whole wheel including brake pads and disc. After a few minutes, the cleaner creates a foam that removes the dust and debris. Then you can wash the wheel and brake caliper.

The bottom line.

Now you know the significant role of brake lubricant in protecting your brake against corrosion and contaminants. So it is time to lube your vehicle with the best brake lubricant for it.

Picture of Mado eldemrdash

Mado eldemrdash

as a vehicle tire specialist. I can definitely guide you to select the best choice of tire for your vehicle.

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