Know Your Brake Temperatures

Brake Temperatures


(Note: Temperatures indicated are at the lining/drum interface and are approximate.)

550°F - 650°F
Brake resin odor is present
850°F
Brakes begin to smoke
1,100°F
Brake oxidation occurs at parts of the brake open to air rushing by
1,250°F
Drums become cherry-red internally
+1,250°F
Danger of run-away due to excess drum expansion


Brake lining will remain within its designated friction range on a properly maintained brake through all of the temperatures described under three conditions:

  1. That the rated axle capacity of the brake material has not been exceeded. If this condition is present, more than normal fade can be present at higher temperatures.
  2. That at temperatures above 850°F, the driver does not over-speed the vehicle where severe or sudden braking can be expected. Under safe operating conditions, the brake lining on a properly applied and maintained brake will remain stable at high temperatures. Excessive speed while the brakes are hot may result in longer stopping distances.
  3. That the brake lining is not contaminated with oil or grease.

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