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Why do I have black brake dust on my front rims

Updated on May 6, 2013

Brake dust on wheels has got to be a number one concern among my customers. The appearance of heavy black dust on shiny aluminum rims can create a lot of frustration.
Usually the front wheels get it the worst because the front end handles about 70% of the stopping. This is why replacing struts at factory recommended intervals is so important. The dive in the front end can cause extra strain on the braking system.

Ultimately, the style of brake pad is primarily to blame. The 2 most common pad types that cause this problem are organic or semi-metallic.
Organic brake pads are pretty much just like they sound. It is a pressed pad of material that is very soft and disintergrates easily. It helps create a quiet stop with a shorter braking distance.
Semi-metallic brake pads are an organic with metallic material mixed in. This creates a longer lasting brake pad than an organic, but is also a primary cause of brake noise.
Consider this, braking is simply the process of turning forward energy into heat energy. The brake pads and rotors must dissipate that heat quickly and effectively. This heating and dissipating from the brake pad results in material that comes off and lands onto the wheels.
The most effective solution to reducing brake dust is to use a ceramic brake pad. This material is the least likely to cause dust or noise but may have a little bit longer brake distance.

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    • POWERS1205 profile image

      POWERS1205 5 years ago

      It can. Especially if you've taken a longer trip that has required high speed stopping when coming off an interstate or freeway. Changing to a ceramic brake pad will greatly minimize the dust.

    • profile image

      Libni thomas 5 years ago

      Your article was very usefull.I was wondering what causes my front wheel covers to have this black color. My car has disc brakes only at the front. Does more dust indicate heavy wearing of brake pads?