When it comes to cars and their internal working, many people tend to have misconceptions about their processes. One such part is the braking systems of vehicles, which is also a vital part of any vehicle. A sound braking system can help you avoid collisions and even save your life in deadly situations. Therefore, knowing how your car braking system works and what factors can affect its proper functioning is necessary.
If you live in a cold place, the chances are that the thought of car brake fluid freezing in winter might have come to your mind. Many people assume that the braking fluid of a car can freeze overnight in cold winters. Technically, oil cannot freeze, but several factors can make your brake fluid turn into a gel-like substance in cold weather. It becomes so thick that it becomes impossible to use and is ineffective.
Is it Possible for Brakes to Freeze?
No, brake oil cannot freeze and become solid the way water turns to ice. It is because brake fluid consists of oil. Oil does not freeze to become a crystalline substance like water. However, non-contaminated oil can thicken into a gel-like state at a freezing temperature of about -40°C. This gel-like substance can affect the regular working of your brake system. However, it should not concern you as temperature dropping to -40°C is extremely rare unless you live in the coldest places on earth.
How Cold Does it Have to be for Brake Fluid to Freeze?
Pure, non-contaminated brake oil will thicken into a gel-like substance at around -40°C. However, it is not the same case for contaminated oil. If your car braking system is not serviced properly, it can stop working at even higher temperatures. It is because of brake oil’s chemical properties. Oil is absorbent by nature, which means it can absorb moisture from the air.
Although brake systems are mostly airtight and do not contain any moisture, some air or water vapor can make its way into the brake fluid reservoir.
The constant shifting of valves and connections inside can lead to moisture penetrating the system. Water freezes at 0°C; it takes more than that to freeze brake fluid. However, if moisture has leaked into the braking system, it can be frozen at the point.
The exact temperature at which brake lines freeze is hard to pinpoint as it is dependent on the quantity of moisture accumulated in the braking system. Hence, the less water that has made its way to the brake line, the lower chances of having a brake problem due to it freezing over.
What Happens When Brake Fluid Freezes?
When you drive your car in cold temperatures, snow and moisture can get into brake pads and rotors. If the temperature falls below the freezing point of water, it can cause tiny crystals to form in the liquid. These little ice crystals can cause weird squealing noises when you start the car next time. It is not much of a problem as it is fixable. All you have to do is heat up your vehicle. When you heat your car, these tiny crystals melt away, solving the issue at hand.
Squeaking noises can also be due to rust buildup on your brake rotor. If you park your car outside in the cold weather, moisture from rain or snow can accumulate on the car’s brake rotors. This moisture causes rust to form a layer on the rotor. As such, when you drive your vehicle, this rust gets scrubbed off, making squeaking noises in the process. The best way to avoid such a scenario is to park your car in a warm or dry place like a garage. Moreover, it will protect your car from snow and rain and prevent rust buildup on the brake rotors.
Read Also: Car Jerks When Braking At Low Speed
Can Brake Calipers Freeze in Cold Weather?
The caliper performs a vital function in the brake system of the car. You can find the pads and pistons in the caliper. These two are vital since it stops the car when the driver brakes. When the caliper pushes on the brake pads, it pushes on the rotors, putting the car to a halt.
If there is any moisture between the brake calipers, it freezes over time. When the caliper gets frozen, the brake pad gets stuck and cannot completely disengage from the brake rotor’s surface. When you drive your car in such a situation, it will be the same as driving with brakes loosely applied at all times. Moving with a stuck caliper can stress the brake system and the transmission, reducing the brake system’s life. Moreover, a stressed-out braking system increases the chance of a brake failure in the future. Thus, if your brake calipers are stuck, you should get professional help to get them fixed.
Also Know: 5 Best Brake Pads for Silverado 2500HD
What Can you do in Such a Situation?
It depends upon your situation and how frozen your brake calipers are. You can try to put some boiling water on them, but you have to know where these calipers are to do so. Additionally, moving your car backward and forward a little can also help to release the brakes. It will cause the brakes to make heavy clunk sounds in the process. The best thing to do is to make sure that you regularly service your car to avoid dealing with such scenarios, especially if you have not used it over winter. Moreover, make sure to park your car in a dry and moisture-free environment so that water can not get into your braking system.
The braking system is the most crucial part of a vehicle. While the braking fluid cannot technically freeze in cold climates, it can encounter many problems. These problems can make your life difficult and also risk severe damage in the case of an accident. In this article, we went over the many issues a braking system can encounter in cold weather and elaborated on the steps to prevent such a situation. It can go a long way in ensuring that you do not experience these problems in the future.