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Why Is There Rust on My Brakes?

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Should I Worry About Surface Rust?

Have you ever noticed surface rust on your brakes in the morning before heading off to work? You probably have wondered what it is, how it got there, and if it affects the performance of your brakes.

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Why Does Rust Develop on Brake Parts?

Because brake pads and rotors are made of steel and cast iron, they are subject to developing rust when these materials come in contact with water; rust can develop on brake pads and rotors when moisture penetrates the parts. Rain, dew, snow and even humid conditions can cause rust to form on brake pads and rotors.

Where Can Rust Form on Brake Pads and Rotors?

On brake pads, rust can form on the surface and corrosion can occur on the backing plate. On rotors, rust can also develop on the surface.

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How Does Rust Affect My Brakes?

Rust and corrosion can have a detrimental effect on your brake pads and rotors. However, where the corrosion is located dictates how it will affect your brakes.

With frequent driving, surface rust is cleaned off the brake pads and rotors when you apply your brakes and typically is not a cause for concern. However, if you don’t drive your vehicle on a regular basis, the rust can build up and start degrading the structural integrity of the brake rotos. This can cause noise and performance issues.

If the corrosion is located on the backing plate of the brake pads, it can cause delamination of the friction material which can lead to an increase in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). If the corrosion is left to progress, it can cause the friction material to completely detach from the pad’s backing plate. Once this corrosion sets in, the brake pad can’t be repaired; it must be replaced.

In the case of rotors, a prolonged break in driving can cause pitting in the rotor where the rust can eat away the rotor surface. The rotor surface is no longer smooth which can have an adverse effect on your vehicle’s braking performance. If the damage to the rotor is severe, a new rotor should be installed.

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How to Minimize Rust on Brakes and Rotors

A good first step in minimizing the amount of rust on your brake pads and rotors is selecting quality brake parts. Wagner® premium brake pads and rotors have corrosion inhibiting features that can help extend the life of brake components.

Wagner OEX and OEX Car brake pads have superior galvanized steel plates with mechanical retention and premium stainless-steel hardware for better corrosion resistance and longer life. Galvanizing on the backing plate provides a better bond to inhibit rust jacking. Wagner premium rotors have an E-Shield® coating on non-braking surfaces to inhibit corrosion from dirt, debris, salt and other contaminants.

Pair OEX and OEX Car brake pads with Wagner premium rotors together for superior optimal braking performance.

Other things you can do to avoid a rust buildup is to park your car overnight in a garage or other dry environment when possible. For those that live in snowy climates, run your vehicle through the car wash regularly to remove road salt that can corrode brake components.


Learn more about Wagner brake rotors, find your car part, or find a local car repair shop today.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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