New Brakes Smoking: What Could Be the Possible Reason?

New brakes smoking could be a situation that you could find yourself in, especially after getting a new set of brakes for your car.

New Brakes Smell and Smoke

Yes, new brakes give off a burning smell, but not always, and they might also give off smoke occasionally. This article will explore all you need to know about new smoking brakes.

Why Are Your New Brakes Smelling and Smoking?

Your new brakes are smelling like they’re burning (and giving off smoke) due to the emergency brake being active. The fault could also be from a stuck or seized caliper, stuck pads, a pinched brake hose, or even the fluid you used.

– The Emergency Brake Is Still Active

Engaging the emergency brakes is one of the most common reasons for burning smells and smoke from your tires. The emergency brakes are the rear brakes of a car (also called a handbrake). Leaving these brakes on after you’ve shifted to gear can cause a lot of friction, leading to overheating of the brake pads. This overheating produces a burnt rubber smell.

Besides the burnt rubber smell, your car may feel sluggish, which you’d notice after driving a fair distance. You may also notice some squealing or grinding sounds as well.

– The Brake Caliper Has Seized

If your caliper is stuck or seized, you’ll likely notice a burning rubber smell while driving. The caliper is what houses the brake pads and pistons. The predominant design in most cars is floating calipers (the type that glides around), as they improve functionality and are more effective.

As your brakes age, the calipers will wear and get stuck, pushing your brakes into a corner. This creates friction between your brakes and wheels when you drive your car. The friction, in turn, causes overheating, smoking, and an unpleasant smell. Besides an aging braking system, corrosion and dirt can also make your calipers get stuck.

– The Cylinder Wheel Is Stuck

The wheel cylinder is another important braking component that can get stuck and cause smoke or odor. The job of a wheel cylinder is to push the brake shoes and press them against the brake drum to cause friction that’ll slow down the car. The wheel cylinder usually gets stuck due to debris or corrosion.

Reasons Why New Brakes Smell and Smoke

A stuck wheel cylinder causes the brake shoes to stay pressed to the drum, even after you’ve taken your foot off the brake pedal. This unnecessary and continuous friction causes odor and smoking.

– The Brake Hose Is Pinched

The effect of a pinched brake hose is similar to that of a seized caliper. Usually, in a braking system, a steel brake line and a rubber brake hose (used in flexible joint areas) carry brake fluid from the master cylinder to the other brake components at the wheel.

If a brake hose is pinched for any reason, it will allow maximum pressure application to the brake calipers, but it won’t allow for any pressure release. This continuous pressure makes the brake pads stick to the rotor, causing continuous friction that results in smoke.

– Brake Pads Are Stuck

Brake pads can get stuck to the disk over time, as sand, dust, and debris get trapped in them. When this happens, you will surely experience burning smells because the friction between the pads and the disk is sustained whether you apply brakes or not. This sustained friction produces heat that can harm your vehicle’s brakes and other parts.

– Improper Alignment While Driving

Bad alignment of your brakes while driving will affect your braking system performance. But more than this, it will also reduce the lifespan of the brake components.

When your car wheels aren’t aligned properly, the brake pressure applied to them is not equal. This will make some pads wear out faster than others. These worn-out pads will either get stuck or corroded, causing smoking problems when you drive.

You can tell that your brakes are misaligned if there’s a wobbling sensation when you apply the brakes or if there are vibrations while using the steering wheel. A professional mechanic should fix misaligned brakes.

– Under the Hood of Your Car Is Dirty

If the hood of your car is dirty, you may experience smoking from there whenever you apply brakes. This situation may also arise when liquids like hydraulic fluids spill onto the hot engine of your vehicle. A leaking brake cylinder can cause this problem.

If you find white smoke coming from under your hood while driving, quickly pull over, open the hood, and find what’s wrong. Or call emergency services.

– Using Wrong Parts and Fluids

Using the wrong brake parts/fluid in your car can cause smoking or smell when you engage your brakes while driving. Sometimes, your brake and transmission fluids boil after aggressive driving, making them non-effective. Always check with your manufacturers (see manual, website, etc.) to know what parts and hydraulic fluids are best for your car.

How to Fix Smelling and Smoking New Brakes

You can fix smelling and smoking new brakes by changing the bad or affected components. Another solution is to slow down your car while driving and allow the brakes to cool. You can also try flushing out the debris between the brake disc and the pad.

– Allow the Brakes To Cool

Overheated brakes are the major cause of smoking brakes and burning odors. You can cool your brakes by leaving them idle for a few minutes. To do this, allow some space in front of you while driving slowly (or park your vehicle), and do not engage your brakes for the time being. Cooling time for brakes should be at least five minutes.

– Engine Braking

Engine braking (also called downshifting) can be a good way to allow your brakes to breathe. It is best done in manual transmission vehicles. However, downshifting cannot replace regular braking and should not be used at high speeds. A good time to use this braking method is when you’re driving downhill.

– Flush Out Debris and Sand Between the Brake Pad and Disc

Use water to flush out any sand or debris between your pads and discs. Doing this will reduce or eliminate unnecessary friction that would cause heat and smells when you activate the brakes.

– Flush Brake Fluids

Flushing the brake fluid can help maintain the working condition of the brakes. If a bad or wrong fluid is responsible for your overheating problem, doing this will also solve the issue.

Fixes for New Brakes Smell and Smoke

Flushing simply means draining the old fluid and adding a new one. Cars have a reservoir for hydraulic oil under the hood. Find it and fill it with new fluid until it reaches the “full” line. After this, test drive your car to see how everything checks out.

Changing hydraulic fluids after every 25,000 miles of driving is generally advisable.

– Drive Gently With New Brakes

If you’re fond of slamming on the brakes, it may be the reason why you always get smoke from new brakes. New brakes should be allowed to undergo the curing process completely before aggressive usage. You should apply your new brakes softly, at least for the first few miles.

– Check for Stuck Caliper Pins and Clean Them

You can take out your pins and clean them with sandpaper or a wire brush if they seem corroded or filled with dirt. Applying grease to your calipers is also a good way to maintain them and prevent future seizures.

Frequently Asked Questions

– How Does Friction Form in a Typical Braking System?

For brakes to create friction, hydraulic pressure is first applied (via the hydraulic fluid). This pressure forces the brake shoes outward, causing them to apply a friction force against the drum brakes. The drums are connected to the wheel, and so the car slows down as a result.

– How Long Is a Brake Pad Supposed To Last?

Brake pads are supposed to last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. But some can last up to 100,000 miles. The reasons for the wide variation in the lifespan of different pads are the type of brake system, the type of pad, and the driver’s care in handling.

– Is Driving With New Brakes Advisable?

Yes. However, remember that new brakes must undergo curing to work efficiently. So only apply brakes when you need to, and don’t slam them too hard during the first 500 miles. Otherwise, your new brake system may begin to overheat.

– Can Smoky Brakes Catch Fire?

Yes, smoky brakes can eventually catch on fire if you continue to go hard on them despite the obvious signs of overheating. Also, excessive heat can make the braking fluid start boiling in the calipers, which can also cause a fire if you don’t allow the system to cool down.

New Brakes Smell and Smoke

Could Rod Knock Cause New Brakes to Smoke?

Rod knock symptoms could potentially cause new brakes to smoke. Rod knock refers to a knocking sound in the engine caused by loose bearings on the crankshaft. If this issue isn’t promptly addressed, it could lead to engine damage and affect the overall performance of your vehicle. While rod knock symptoms primarily involve the engine, it could indirectly impact other components, such as brakes. However, it’s essential to consult a mechanic for a proper diagnosis and to address the root cause of the rod knock symptoms.


When brakes smoke, several factors may be responsible. We’ve covered all the major causes of smoky brakes in this article.

Here’s a recap of what you should do as a driver if you find your brakes smoking:

  • Stop the car and allow the brakes to cool down for some minutes.
  • Inspect the pads and calipers for signs of seizure, corrosion, wearing, etc.
  • Clean or flush any braking component that seems to be in a bad state. If necessary, replace brake components that are bad, such as pads and fluids.
  • Take your car to a professional for examination and fixing (especially if you notice issues like misalignment.

If you find yourself with brakes that are on fire, don’t try to diagnose the issue on your own. Instead, seek emergency assistance.

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