Brake Maintenance

What Causes Brake Drag and How to Reduce It


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Brake drag is the rolling drag that brakes incur at elevated temperatures. This problem can be caused by several occurrences from a failing master cylinder to misaligned calipers. There are generally common causes of brake drags and ways to reduce them.

Common Causes of Brake Drag

There are several reasons why a brake drags. However, it is important to remember that no matter the cause you should always fix the problem immediately since any type of brake problems can cause a whole lot of problems including damage to your vehicle’s car, or worse, an accident.

Generally, a brake drag can be due to an incomplete brake shoe release. However, there are also several causes for the brake to drag. Brake dragging is commonly caused by broken or weak springs on the drum brakes. It can also be due to a corroded or jammed caliper piston or a caliper that has corroded bushings or mounting pins. Additionally, brake dragging can also be caused by frozen emergency brake cables as well as overextended self-adjusters.

Some simple causes of a disc brake drag can be due to one or more sets of shoes that were adjusted too tightly. You should also check the return springs. A broken or weak return spring can also cause the disc brake to drag. At the same time, brake drums that have a defective lining material, are out of round, have clogged lines or hoses or loose anchor pins can also cause the brakes to drag.

A rear brake drag can be the result of a sticky pull cable for the hand brake. On the other hand, a front brake drag can be caused by the seals on the front disc brakes being too old or loosing their flexibility. A faulty power booster or blocked master cylinder return port can cause all the wheels to drag.

Reducing Brake Dragging

How to fix dragging brake generally depends on what causes the brake to drag in the first place. If the problem is caused by a broken or weak return spring or retracting springs, then replacing these parts can reduce brake dragging. On the other hand, if corrosion is the problem, you then need to thoroughly clean the corroded parts to allow the engine parts to work properly.

However, one of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce brake dragging is to clean the pistons on the calipers.

Effects of a Brake Drag

If a brake drag is not reduced or fixed properly, it can create several other problems in your vehicle. A brake drag can reduce the mpg of the engine which in turn results in premature brake pad and rotor wear. Although a brake drag can appear to be a minor problem, it can be severe enough that it will overheat the linings, drums and the rotors.

In a worse case scenario, a drag can also burn the brake lining and score and distort the drums and rotors, which will lead to the need for replacements.

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