If you are a do-it-yourself mechanic, it’s quite possible that you’ve met the dreaded brake dust shield while changing brake pads. The brake dust shield is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) component that helps protect brake system part and other suspension parts from the excessive collection of brake dust. As brake dust builds-up, it can get embedded between brake pads and the brake rotor, corrode the brake caliper and possibly result in premature wear and tear — possibly even braking system failure. Except you have a disc brake system, that cleans itself, the brake dust shield is vital to protect the entire system. Still, many people wonder if brake dust shields are important.
To shed some light on this frequently asked question, let’s examine the top 3 reasons brake dust shields should not be taken out.
- Brake Dust Shields Increases Brake System Lifespan
Quick question: what are the causes of excessive brake pad wear? If you answered friction, you’d be correct. But did you know that a leading cause of friction comes from debris stuck between the brake pad and the brake rotor? Whether it’s dust from the brake pads, dirt from the road, or other debris, most brake issues from premature wear of parts are due to excessive friction during normal use. When the brake dust shield is taken out, the collection of brake dust on this critical part is accelerated. As a result, friction is increased when brake pads are applied to the rotor, which can increase the wear of pads and rotors. Keeping the brake dust shield mounted can extend the life of pads, rotors, and even brake calipers.
- Brake Dust Shields lower Road Grime Build-Up
Removing brake dust from your wheels is a very simple process. Most vehicle owners can spray water from a high-pressure hose in-between the wheel’s “holes” and the light-powdered dust will easily fall from the brake calipers and rotors. However, removing road grime and dirt is not as simple. The brake dust shield is made by the designers of modern vehicles, trucks, and SUV’s to block the collection of not only brake dust, but other contaminants like road grime, dirt, and other particles that can collect on brake system component.
People that live in cold-weather climates have to deal with an additional culprit to premature brake wear and tear — the collection of road salt. Magnesium chloride, or ice-melt as it’s commonly called, is applied to cold-weather areas to lower the build-up of ice on roads during snowy conditions. As the ice starts to melt, the salt starts sticking to brake system parts. When the water evaporates, the salt acts like sandpaper — literally grinding the brake pad and rotor every time the brakes are applied. The brake dust shield assist to block road grime, salt, and other contaminants from collecting on the brake system.
- Absence of Brake Shields Can Result in Brake System Failure
In a perfect world, vehicle owners would change their brakes as recommended by their manufacturers — usually every 30,000 miles. However, these recommendations are set by normal use, which includes using the car with all OEM parts installed. By removing the brake dust shield, consumers are speeding up the wear and tear of brake pads and rotors. Although these parts can display warning signs or symptoms, like grinding when applied or squeaking, they will continue to wear and even eventually fail.
While it might be tempting to take off the brake dust shield to avoid the extra step during brake pad change jobs, the risks simply outweigh any perceived benefits. It is always best to reinstall all OEM parts when completing routine service and maintenance, which includes the brake dust shield on any vehicle, truck, and SUV.