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We can’t believe we even need to do this brakes post, yet the proof is here for all to see. Car enthusiasts love to modify and detail their whips. That includes detailing those expensive Brembo or Wilwood disc brakes. But if you do decide a coat of new paint is appropriate, mask off the rotors first. 

Don’t be lazy or ignorant by blowing a rattle can over the whole brake assembly. That’s what this person did. And while we can’t say if they were lazy or ignorant or something else, something wasn’t right in deciding to do it this way. 

How does spray paint on rotors affect braking?

Painted disc brake rotors with paint stuck to them
Painted disc brake rotors | CS Automotive via Facebook

The brake calipers grab the brake rotors when one presses the brake pedal. That’s how the vehicle stops. But if the caliper pads are gripping onto fresh paint, they won’t work, causing potentially catastrophic results. You see, the paint gets gummy from the friction heat, leading to brake failure. 

According to CS Automotive, the vehicle in question was towed into their Tennessee shop with brakes locked up. The owner thought it was from the transmission in his Nissan that was going south. That’s because when he came to a traffic stop, he could not move forward once he stepped on the go pedal. But it wasn’t the transmission.

In this case, the black paint wasn’t meant to detail the brakes. Instead, it was for making a quick blast of black onto the wheels to get that murdered-out look. But the owner decided it wasn’t necessary to remove the wheels first. 

Is that brake pad material stuck to the rotors?

Painted disc brake rotors with pad material
Painted disc brake rotors | CS Automotive via Facebook

The friction from the brakes got the black paint all nice and gummy. Once the driver came to a stop, it quickly dried. And stomping on the accelerator pedal had no effect; it couldn’t break the brakes loose. But that’s not all.

Those brake pads were good and stuck to the rotors. The tow truck was able to break loose the rear brakes. But when this happened, there were pieces of the pads stuck to the rotors. So all four corners needed new rotors and brake caliper pads. And that meant a big brake job bill for parts and labor. 

Couldn’t the owner have done a little better job?

Mercedes-Benz disc brake setup
Mercedes-Benz disc brake setup | Tim Graham/Getty

So that was the expensive result of painting the disc brake rotors. It would have been so simple to avoid this mess by just removing the wheels first. And not to be mean, but whoever applied the black rattle can paint did a terrible job. 

There are runs and areas where the paint got too thick and formed bubbles, which show once the paint was dry. Sometimes, we can’t make this stuff up. So next time you get paint even close to your disc brakes or go to make a brake repair, keep this little tale in mind. Hopefully, it will remind you not to get paint, even overspray, on your disc brake rotors.


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