Brake Dust Rears Its Head In IQS Survey

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Fresh off a recent discussion at TTAC on the menace of brake dust, the NYT reports that the phenomenon made an impact on the recent JD Power Initia Quality Survey. Apparently consumers are complaining about brake dust in their IQS surveys, and it (among other things) knocked the Jag XF down a spot on the final standings. “A lot of the problems that might seem somewhat trivial from an engineering standpoint -– and brake dust is a good example –- are not necessarily trivial from a consumer’s standpoint,” says Powers’ David Sargent. “The perception is that the brakes are not performing properly, which is false, but in the consumer’s mind it is reality,”he explains. If brake dust isn’t an actual malfunction, why is it included in the IQS survey?

“In our mind if consumers consider something to be a quality problem we would consider it a quality problem because the purpose of the study is to report back problems as defined by consumers,” explains Sargent. And apparently this phenomenon led to Ford significantly downgrading braking power when it refreshed its Focus for 2005. As long as consumers stop complaining about brake dust, nobody seems to care that the brakes actually function worse than before.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Nikita Nikita on Jul 10, 2009

    As I understand it, German TUV requirements include graphite in the brake pad formulation. Why, I dont know, but I've seen it on German cars for 30 years. So, German OE pads will always make the wheels black with dust. My BMW had the same issue, as did the Ford Fiesta. It had dust and short pad life. Repco Metal Masters fixed that. I switched to EBC Green Stuff pads on the BMW and, while not dust-free, performed better than OE without noise or any other side-effects.

  • Fred Fred on Jul 10, 2009

    I agree with Roadcholar, wash your wheels. If you let it build up it makes it even worse to get off.

  • Lokkii Lokkii on Jul 10, 2009

    Are there no scientists cum chemists among the B&B who can save us all from the curse of the black [s]death[/s] dust? WHY does the dust stick to the wheels? Is it an electromagnetic attraction? Could you put an electrode/anode to attract the dust instead of the wheel? Could you hook up a windshield fluid (et al) container filled with washer to wick the dust away? Surely, there's an solution from the B&B of the B&B.

  • Toasty Toasty on Jul 10, 2009

    I've read it's at least partially an electrostatic process that attracts the dust, then it bonds through heat and chemistry. This isn't really a brake dust issue. The problem would be solved by getting OEMs to use better performing, lower dusting pads. Unless you just have to use high dusting pads, it's not hard to deal with brake dust on all but the most ornate wheels (my apologies to the spokers). Preventative measures, like thoroughly washing the wheels and occasionally applying wax, makes a huge difference. I use a really long brush that allows me to clean the entire inside of the wheel while it's mounted, and that seems to keep the exterior surfaces cleaner, too. I only have to use Simple Green to get the dust to release, and my stock wheels still look great.