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Do New Brakes Smell and Smoke? (Explained)

Cars are one of the most comfortable and preferred modes of transportation for people all around the world. It provides us with convenience and allows us to travel great distances at ease. 

Being a vehicle of such significance, it requires delicate care as well – which you can learn about from the abstract below.

Do new brakes smell and smoke?

New brakes do smoke up and release a distinct smell but that is not due to them burning up or being faulty. The smoke and smell are released from the new brakes for a few miles initially – which is why you need to be gentle with them to prevent the brake pads from overheating too quickly.

When you replace your old brake pads with brand new brake pads, you will notice some smoke and a smell coming off from them when you drive – this is because the new brakes undergo a curing process and both the smell and smoke are due to their polymerization. 

However, there is nothing to be worried about since this phenomenon is quite common for cars that recently replaced their front brakes or rear brakes.

To explain the cause behind the smoke and the smell, it is necessary that you first understand the process that is taking place in your new brakes. 

After you or your mechanic has set up the new brakes on your car, you will notice a burning smell that indicates that the brakes have started breaking in.

The smoke and smell are due to polymerization, which occurs for the first few times using the brakes when the curing process happens. 

This process takes place when the brakes pads are pressed against the rotors and as a result of the friction between them, a lot of heat gets released and the brake pads break in. This curing causes the brake pads to form gasses that have a distinct smell. 

You might wonder whether this curing process is harmful to your brake pads or not, but rest assured – this process is completely normal for brand new brake pads. 

A similar huge misconception is that these smokes or smells occur in brakes if they are burning or are failing – which are both false since the curing process does not cause any harmful burning of the brakes.

Usually, this is not an issue after the first few miles however if you notice your brakes still overheat quickly even after the curing, then you need to contact your local car mechanic and tend to the brakes.

Why do my new brakes smoke and smell bad at first?

When you or your mechanic replaced your car’s old brakes with brand new ones, you may notice on the first few miles that your brake pads are releasing some fumes which have a strange smell. 

But do not panic, since these smokes and smells are normally observed at first after you have replaced your brakes.

The smoke and smell are due to a process called curing, which releases these smelly fumes due to polymerization. 

When the engines are running, the rotors are moving at a drastically high speed but when the brake pads are pressed – the brakes press themselves against the moving rotors to bring them to halt. However, this process does not release smoke or smell on well-conditioned older brakes.

In the case of new brakes, this phenomenon is noticed at first for a few miles. This is when the brakes are curing into the rotor and the friction due to this contact between the brakes and the rotor causes the brake to heat up. 

This breaking-in of the brakes from the heat often releases smelly fumes.

After a few miles of using the brakes and getting it cured with the rotor, you will stop seeing the smoke. But for the first few miles, make sure to keep your speed low to keep the brakes from overheating.

Is it normal to smell burning after changing brakes?

If you recently changed your brakes and got a new one, then you will notice a burning smell from it at first when you are using them. This burning smell is completely normal and there is no need to panic or call in a mechanic. 

This burning smell is caused by a process called curing.

This curing process takes place between the brakes and the rotor due to friction as the brakes heat up and transfer into the rotor. This heat often causes fumes to be released which has a burning smell. After a few miles, these fumes and a burning smell will no longer persist.

You can also get rid of the burning smell by breaking in the brakes in a controlled manner called bedding. By doing so, you will be intentionally causing the brakes to go through the curing process so that the burning smell doesn’t persist.

What do new brakes smell like?

When you get new brakes and start using them, they will start the curing process with the rotor which could cause it to overheat and slightly burn as well. 

The brake pads have resin layering on them, so when the curing process is taking place, you might notice fumes that smell like burning rubber.

This smell is caused by the fumes produced by polymerization as a result of the curing process. Old brakes will not have this smell, and only new brakes have been noticed to bear this smell until the curing process has been completed.

Why do my new brakes smell like burning rubber?

As you use your newly replaced brakes for the first time, they will be pressed against a moving rotor and as a result of friction between them, the brakes will undergo the curing process. 

This process releases heat which causes polymerization that transfers the brake layer into the rotor. This polymerization also releases fumes as a byproduct that smells like burning rubber.

How long do new brakes smell and smoke?

The smoke and smell in new brakes only persist as long as the curing process has not been completed. The new brakes usually have a burning rubber smell and visible smoke for around 1-2 hours until the brakes have undergone the break-in process

After which, there should be no strong smell of burning rubber or any visible smoke.

Can I drive with a new smelling or smoking brakes?

It is strongly recommended that you do not go out to drive long distances right after you have installed new brakes into your car. This is because new brakes need to be bedded by the curing process, which requires you to use the brake gently. 

It is suggested that you gently use the brakes for the first few miles before using them normally.

How do you break in new brakes?

Bedding or breaking in of the new brakes can be done by heating up and cooling down the brakes in such a way that a layer of the brake pad gets evenly transferred onto the rotors. The methods of the breaking in are described in detail down below:

Bringing the temperature up by braking:

To heat up the brakes, you can accelerate your car up to 60 mph while pressing the brakes occasionally to gently transfer the brake pad layer into the rotors. 

This motor keeps the brakes at an optimally high temperature while effectively transferring the pad layer into the rotor.

Brake till the car decelerates:

Another way to break in your brakes is to at first accelerate your car all the way up to 60 mph and then press the brakes but not too firmly to bring your car to halt immediately.

Afterward, allow your car to decelerate to around 10 mph from 60 mph, this way the brake will get enough friction to coat the rotor.

Constantly accelerate and brake:

You can try a combination of the above two techniques by constantly accelerating and decelerating back and forth to complete the bedding procedure done faster. 

The method is to accelerate your car up to 60 mph and then brake firmly to decelerate down to 10 mph and accelerate back to 60 mph again. You should repeat this cycle 8-10 times and then let your car come to a halt.

Cooldown the brakes:

When you have successfully completed one or more of the above procedures, you need to allow your car’s brakes to cool down. 

If the breaking-in process has been successfully completed, then you should see that your rotor has a slight blue tint and a light gray film covering it.

Final thoughts

New brakes have a distinct odor and smoke, but this is not due to them burning up or failing. This is noticeable for the first few miles when the new brakes release smoke and smell, which is why you must be cautious with them to prevent the brake pads from overheating.