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Old 04-19-2004, 13:07   #1 (permalink)
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Brake Mystery

I've noticed an excessive amount of brake dust on the front rims of my F150. Compared with the rear wheels, there's much more on the front. All four are disk brakes. Since looking, I've noticed this on almost all vehicles. Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, four wheel drive, seems not to matter. Almost all vehicles I see on the road seem to have more brake dust on the front rims than on the rear.

This seems to imply that the front brakes are wearing more, and that more braking action is occuring on the front wheels than the rear. Is this true? If not, why the excessive brake dust on the front rims?

If it is true, why? Are the braking systems engineered to apply more braking action to the front wheels? What's the benefit in that?

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Old 04-19-2004, 15:03   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Brake Mystery

Yes, the front brakes wear faster than the rear brakes. When you step on the brakes, much of the vehicles weight is transferred to the front wheels forcing the front brakes to work harder than the rear brakes. It has nothing to do with how brakes are engineered, it's just physics/dynamics. Because of the fact that the front brakes work harder, the front brakes are often larger than the rears to help the brakes cope with the increase in forces, (i.e. larger rotors, calipers, brake pads, etc.).

The fact that the front brakes do more of the stopping due to weight transfer was the thinking behind rear-antilock brake systems. With much of the weight of the vehicle shifted towards the front under hard braking, the rear end obviously gets lighter. The harder the braking, the lighter the rear end gets. Under extreme braking conditions like those found in an emergency situation, the rear wheels could lock up because there's just not enough weight on them to create the force necessary to overcome the braking forces applied to them. We all know that we stop faster if the wheels don't lock up. It's all about static vs. kinetic friction.
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