Protect Your Brakes: Understanding the Impact of Winter - AutoGuru
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Protect Your Brakes - Advice From Bendix


Updated 31 May 2023


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Depending on where you live, some winter days in Australia and New Zealand can be miserable, with lots of rain, low temperatures, fog, and grimy road surfaces.

Driving in these conditions can be more challenging as visibility is likely reduced and there’s often less grip and traction thanks to the wet roads – in short, the demands on both the driver and braking system can be much higher.

Moisture-causing rust

With the added moisture, braking components become frequently exposed to the water – even more so if the vehicle is not stored under cover when not used – and this can increase corrosion in the system. Some degree of surface rust is unavoidable, but too much rust can lead to more serious pitting, leaving the disc brake rotors with a scoured and rough surface, which in turn can contaminate the brake pads.

There are several factors that may alert the driver that their braking system has been water compromised, or that their rotors could be excessively rusty. In the case of rusty rotors, brakes may squeal when applied, and stopping distances are likely to increase. 

white truck driving in wet conditions

Excessive heat? It’s true…

As unlikely as it sounds, excessive brake heat may also occur in colder temperatures and in wet conditions affecting braking performance – this is because wet rotors and brake pads may require added and more frequent brake application to slow the vehicle down. More regular applications and for a longer time can quickly overheat the braking system leading to a temporary reduction in stopping power. In the longer term, excessive heat within the braking system will cause components such as rotors and pads to wear out faster.

Drivers can reduce the likelihood of overheating their brakes by better driving to the conditions and applying the same techniques covered in the following article which provides tips on how to extend brake life.

mechanic fixing vehicle brake pads

Compromised brake fluid

Another important consideration for winter driving is the health of the brake fluid. Brake fluid plays an important role in the braking system, transferring brake force through the brake lines to the calipers which ultimately apply pad pressure. 

Over time moisture can be absorbed by the braking system through imperfect seals, microscopic holes in rubber hoses, or even when the cap is left off the fluid reservoir for too long. Eventually, the moisture mixes with the brake fluid increasing its water content; this reduces its ability to protect the braking system’s internals against corrosion, it also lessens the fluid’s boiling and freezing point, which reduces performance. 

a person filling up their vehicle with brake fluid

If it’s been a while since a braking system check has been performed by a mechanic or brake technician, the lead-up to winter is a perfect time, providing drivers with the added peace of mind of knowing that their vehicles will be ready for the weather conditions ahead.   


Written By


Bendix, Australia’s leading brake manufacturer since 1955 is part of the international FMP Group, a world leader in brake technology.

FMP’s Australian manufacturing operation, based in Ballarat VIC, it is the regional technical centre of excellence in advanced research and development for Asia Pacific and a key original equipment supplier to leading vehicle manufacturers.

The Bendix program caters for the widest range of vehicle applications including 4WD’s and heavy commercial vehicles and trailers.

Automotive workshops can select from technically advanced Bendix products including General CT, 4WD/SUV, Heavy Duty, Euro+, Ultimate, Street Road Track, Brake Shoes, Commercial Vehicle, Brake Lubrication, Brake Fluid and Brake Parts Cleaner/Degreaser.