The disc brake, an absolute breakthrough in automotive engineering, but along the way the disc brake also brought along one Achilles heel, brake dust.
Before we take a look at some products that claim to get that stuff off without, a ton of elbow grease, Let's find out why it's there in the first place.
It all comes down to the interaction of these brake pads with this that gives the disk break it's name, the disk or rotor.
And we covered that interaction of pad and rotor that throws off dust in quite some depth in a recent Car Tech 101 about brakes and how they work.
And why they need brake jobs.
Check that one out, but the kind of dust and the amount you get is often dependent on the kind of pads you have.
The parts that pinch the rotor or disk to slow your car down.
Go back a few decades and asbestos brake pads were actually common.
Before legions of lawsuits over mesothelioma woke us up.
Today you don't need to worry about encountering as best as brake pads.
It's almost unheard of unless you're doing a brake job on a car that's a barn find, but I'll tell you as recently as summer of 2019 The EPA is still involved in new rulemaking to try and get all the asbestos brake pads off the market.
Replacing asbestos pads is what they call the old non asbestos, organic compound that was basically anything from rubber to metal particles to grip or all three in a binder Attached to the pad, they got a lot of bite.
They tend to be really dirty and not do well in high temperature situations.
They're kind of an old school technology today.
The other end of the spectrum is what they would call today a metallic brake pad.
These have all kinds of basically all metal particles, up to maybe 70% of this is metal, baked into this binder, which gives it kind of its height and its pad ness.
These are really hard.
They tend to break and bite well.
They deal with high temperatures nicely.
On the down side, they tend to be pretty dirty.
They chew up your rotors rather rapidly.
And they may require more pedal force.
Performance buffs love these.
But the sweet spot today between the old fashioned pads and perhaps the too aggressive metallic pads are these guys.
These are called ceramic brake pads.
Now, notice they don't look like ceramic.
This isn't like a piece of China out of your hunch.
But in there, in the binder is a predominance of ceramic particles and probably some metal as well.
But primarily ceramic which gives you a nice blend of a good bite and also good durability and dealing with temperatures very nicely but at the same time these throw off less dust, a dust it tends to stick to wheels last and a dust it is lighter in color so you'll notice it less.
This is the majority of what you're probably going to find or at least one on your car.
Now most great pads in real life whatever they're made of, they all gonna claim the same thing.
They'll last forever, break you car really well, work quietly and throw off little or no dust.
Well they can all be telling the truth, otherwise all of our wheels would look good.
So what I will do is rely on your good advice from a trusted breaks shop As opposed to sweating the formulation because these definitions are on a continuum, they've all got all kinds of stuff mixed into their formula.
It doesn't really give you a great guide post.
What you've got the pads you've got and they're creating the dust you're getting.
So let's look at getting that dust off your wheels.
I brought along a pair of wheels here off one car off a Porsche.
This is a car that uses ceramic pads right now whatever formula that is you can see they're not terribly dirty But they are definitely dingy.
This is about 10 days since the last wash.
And you can also see this wheel design is a nightmare to get clean all this basket weave sudo BDS stuff is the worst.
Let's see if a spray can get it out.
So I'm not stuck detailing one of these damn things.
Okay, I got four products here to try and get the grime off.
They all make their own various claims.
Let's see about the pie in the sky.
Here's Armor All extreme wheel and tire cleaner.
This is pretty straightforward just says it's a powerful folding formula.
This one goes on to a wet tire wheel combo, as does Maguire's hot rims wheel and tire cleaner.
It says right here it'll power through brake dust and grime.
On wheels and tyres.
Over here on the dry side these go on dry tyres and wheels.
Here's Eagle one tire cleaning foam.
This is interesting.
This one changes color, as it reacts with the grime and supposedly is lifting it off at the same time.
And finally I've got that what's this black magic?
They make that trip into the valley of death.
They claim no scrub in big letters.
That's a high bar.
Let's see if that's actually true.
Okay, we got our tires and we'll split up now as I mentioned, this is the wet side over here, per these products instructions, Armor All says wet the wheel, spray this on Leave it 30 seconds, agitate it a little bit with a brush or a sponge.
I've got a brush handy, and then rinse it off.
The Maguire says, put it on a wet tyre or wheel for 30 seconds and then simply horse it off.
This is gonna be a little less effort, though not dramatically so, let's get them wet.
My armor roll gone, let's see, armor roll is on this side.
Now i've got my mug wires.
And this stuff also goes on to a wet wheel.
It's nooks and crannies, okay.
Now pour the armor on instructions, they said give it a little bit of agitation.
They said a cloth or a sponge.
Well i've got a brush and that's what i use.
I like a brush like this because it's very soft.
And it's also got relatively long bristles kind of a medium stiffness.
So it gets in there and allows you to work all these faces without hopefully having to articulate too much cleaner these wheels of this design is always a pain.
You can already see we're getting plenty of break dusty grime on here.
We're at about 30 seconds right now we kept these moist by the way for instructions and we're also not gonna go beyond 30 seconds per their instructions.
Let's give him a rinse
Okay, it's plenty of rants, everything's off in here.
Let these guys sit Till they're dry.
Then I'm gonna come back and basically do the white glove test.
Let's go do our dry wheel now.
Here's our Eagle One.
This stuff says to put it on for 30 seconds, scrub, to loosen up all the gunk, and then give it a blast to be showroom clean.
Okay this stuff smells disgusting.
That's an interesting note.
If you are very sensitive to scents like, the scent of rotting garbage and putrified eggs, this not a product for you.
Let that sit for about 30 seconds and during that time it says we are going to see, it turned red as it works, when I see it turning red for sure.
Now I don't know if that's where it's actually finding brake dust or if it's just a parlor trick to make clever marketing out of it, but I'm definitely seeing it.
turn red magenta here.
Okay, it's been on there almost 30 seconds.
It's time now.
To do our agitation again for the instructions this is not a no touch cleaner.
See how it's hard to get to the rim lip on these actually need an even longer brush.
I hate these wheels always have grime and they're all brake dust.
Okay, now let's go to our the side, relatively dry.
Sorry it's not perfect but this is where the black magic goes on.
This one's different.
It says put it on for a cool dry wheel and let it sit for two minutes.
And then hose it off and supposedly that two minutes gives it time to work, in such a way that you will not need to scrub it.
Smells like bubble gum.
You're into that complete opposite of this nasty smelling Eagle we have on the other side.
That covers everything pretty well.
I'll let the clock run now for a couple of minutes on that one and then we're going to give it a host And see if without agitation, it can come out as clean as the others.
Okay, it's been about two minutes since this Black Magic has been on here.
No scrub, big letters.
Let's spray this down.
That's just right.
A little more rinse there.
Okay, let these guys sit and dry in the air like you would do if you moved on to finish up with your car and then see how they look once they'd air drive and see who could use a little more elbow grease, hopefully none.
Nice and clean.
Okay, our wheels have been washed.
They've set out, they're nice and dry.
We followed the directions for each product, let's see how it looks.
Here's McGuire's, the purple stuff.
I'm just gonna take a little sample wipe on this one.
There's still a fair amount of grind there to be honest, both on this towel and visually looking at the wheel.
Down here the Armor All Wheel said to do a little scrubbing with my brush, which I thought I did a good job but I'm finding honey and Grimes, Dylan, those folks.
Over here this tire on On the right, this is the one that had the treatments put on dry, per their directions.
So this is the, which one, Black Magic here on the top.
And cleaner for sure, but there's definitely some noticeable grime on there, and you see it on the wheel as ell.
But this one did better.
Now, the last one, down here on the bottom of the dry wheel, is this Eagle One.
And I'll take a few representative swipes in the spokes there.
And check that out.
This one is noticeably cleaner in the wipe test, as well as in the wheel itself.
This was again a thirty second application on a dry wheel.
Okay, what did we learn today?
Four takeaways I think first of all, next time you get your brakes done, get some low dust pads asked for that they'll also perform well they'll probably be what they call these ceramic pads and you'll have a whole lot less gunk on your wheels.
Secondly, when you do have dust on your wheels, get it off.
Don't let it build up and cake up like I see all too often that's really hard to get off.
These were easy to deal with and these had been all heavily caked up in dust.
We'd be doing this several times and still not get good results.
Third, get a brush.
No matter what I've never found a wheel cleaner that works without abrasion without disturbing the surface of the wheel.
Forget about this, spray it on hose it off stuff unless you've got so little dust you could just about blow it off with your mouth.
And the fourth thing is.
Think about wheels being less complicated and busy.
If you're about to upgrade your tires and wheels.
I know these look snazzy in their elaborate patterns.
Think about cleaning them.
Get something simpler, nice five spoke can look great and be a whole lot easier to keep clean.