Van Nuys Auto Repair & Service Center

Brakes Take a Beating in the Heat

For many, summer vacation is over, but the intense heat will continue to plague us and our cars. More people on the road means more traffic and more time that your vehicle is idle. Brakes take a beating in the heat.  

Just ask Diana. She walked into the shop last week and was visibly frustrated. She had just returned from a trip out to Bakersfield. On her return route, she pressed down on the brakes and realized something was off, so she brought “Bessie” (her nickname for her 2009 Camry) into the shop. 

I met her as she pulled up in the driveway. 

Waving me down, I heard Diana say, “Jack, there’s something wrong with Bessie.”

It took me a moment to remember that Bessie was her car and not a family member. After offering her some cold water, it was hot out that day, I asked her to tell me what had happened.

“Well, I was driving home from a client in Bakersfield. It was a quick two-day visit. I was about ten minutes away from my office, when I heard a squeaking sound from my breaks and what smelled like something burning. It concerned me, so I pulled over but didn’t see any steam or smoke coming out. Since I was close to your shop, I thought I’d drive Bessie straight here.”

“That was a smart move. When you were in Bakersfield, did you park Bessie in the sun or a shaded area?”

“The client I saw didn’t have covered parking nor did my motel.”

“And, when you were driving were you staying within the speed limit? 

“Oh course, I was Jack. After a pause she added, Okay, so maybe I took some liberties along the way, but you can nudge those speed limits a little.”

I had a feeling Diana had “nudged” the speed limit further than she should have, but I didn’t pursue that end of the conversation. It sounded like the noise and smell could coming from her brakes. Extreme heat conditions can make your car's brakes hot.

If I had to give her a diagnosis off the top of my head, I’d say it was her brakes, but after years in the car business, I knew better than to jump to conclusions. Diana went to relax in our Customer Lounge, and I spoke with the technicians working on her car. 

At AutoAid, we believe in going directly to the source of the problem, so the first thing my techs did was to examine her car’s braking system. My first guess was correct. The brakes had gotten overheated, and if she was speeding, the sudden braking didn’t help. 

In the meantime, I spoke with Diana to give her an update on Bessie. 

“What’s the diagnosis, doctor? Is she going to live another day?” Diana half-heartedly asked me.

“Bessie’s in good shape,” I told her. “It’s the heat. In general, extreme heat is not car-friendly, and your long drive to and from her to Bakersfield in such a short time didn’t help. In cases like this, the brakes pads can catch fire or the brakes can go out on you, so let’s be grateful neither of those scenarios happened. Bessie will be fine, but we need to replace the brake pads and make sure everything else is in working order.   Coming in today was a good call, Diana.”

We got her permission to proceed with the maintenance. The technicians changed the front brake pads, rotors (which were warped from the excessive heat), and hardware and applied lubrication to the contact points. Then my guys performed our complimentary visual inspection; they found nothing unusual. 

When the car was ready, I suggested to Diana that the next time she had a long trip like that to let us check the car out before she left, especially if the trip was during the middle of the summer. I told her that if she smelled something, heard squeaking, or felt the brakes were not working properly, she should pull over and call for help. 

AutoAid is the premier auto repair station in the San Fernando Valley located near several freeways and major thoroughfares. We invite you to bring your vehicles to our 5,000-square foot facility with ample parking. Our technicians provide maintenance and repair for a range of Domestic, European, and Japanese vehicles. These services include your car's air conditioning system, brakes, oil changes, engine, windshield, tires, tune-up service, and battery replacement for hybrid or gas-powered vehicles. AutoAid has received AAA’s Approved Auto Repair and Customer Service Award for over 30 years. Our customers love us on Yelp!, Facebook, and Google. Contact us at 818-305-6632 or visit our website’s appointment page. We are here to make auto repair easy, understandable, and convenient. We listen to your needs doing our best to keep you safe on the road.

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