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Why Do My Brakes Smell Like They're Burning? Get the Answers

Published on May 5, 2023 by Talia Mushinsky

Let me paint a picture for you: You're cruising with the windows down, taking in all the delightful scents around you – blooming flowers, fresh rain, a nearby eatery, and...burning brakes? Hold up! If your nose picks up a burning smell when you hit the brakes, it's time to pay attention. There could be a few reasons why your brakes are giving off that sizzling aroma.


Possible Explanations for That Burning Brake Smell


  1. Your Brakes Are Getting Too Hot

Brakes work through friction to bring your vehicle to a stop, and friction generates heat. Unfortunately, overdoing it or having a heavy foot on the brakes can make them overheat. How can you tell if too much heat is causing your brakes to smell like they're burning? Besides the smell, overheated brakes might also squeak a lot, or you might feel a squishy sensation when you step on the brake pedal. Drive smoothly and steadily to help keep your brakes from overheating.


  1. Your Brake Parts Are Brand New

If you've just had your brakes serviced or replaced, the new components might be responsible for the funky smell—and that's totally normal. The odor likely means the resin in your new brake pads is curing, which helps the material become stronger with use. (It's kind of like breaking in a new pair of sneakers.)


If you've recently swapped out your brake pads and you notice a "burnt brake" scent, don't worry, unless your braking power decreases, or if the smell lingers for more than a few days. If you're unsure, get a brake check to be on the safe side.


  1. You Left Your Parking Brake On

Did you park on a slope last night and find that your brakes smell like a backyard cookout? Did you remember to disengage your parking brake before hitting the road? If not, this could be the reason behind the burning brake smell.


Your parking brake is designed to keep your vehicle stationary when parked. Forcing it to move while still engaged puts a lot of stress on your braking system and generates excessive heat.


Depending on how long you drove with the parking brake on, the damage could be minor or significant. In any case, if you discover you've been driving with the parking brake engaged, take your car to your nearest auto care center for a brake inspection. We all have those "oops" moments, but it's essential to address any potential brake damage with expert brake service.


What To Do If Your Brakes Smell Like They’re Burning

If you haven't recently replaced any brake components and you notice a burning smell from your car's brakes, it could signal a problem. Schedule a quick brake inspection at Kunes CDJR of Platteville's Service Center today. Don't risk your safety on the road, and don't let minor issues turn into major repairs down the line.

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