Is it Bad to Remove Brake Dust Shields?

January 27, 2012

In a modern automotive braking system, the brake dust shields tend to serve one main purpose: to prevent dust and debris from accumulating in the braking system. While this can obviously help prolong the life of brake components, are they absolutely necessary or can they be removed with minimal downsides?

Winter Concerns

Winter driving in areas with extensive snow and road salting can be incredibly hard on your car, its braking system included. Your braking system must be able to smoothly operate in order to function properly, and by removing the dust shields either due to brake modifications or because of brake noise, corrosive road salt and mud can more easily enter the braking system. Because of this, corrosion is far more likely, resulting in safety concerns and increased chances of brake malfunction. In addition, should your brakes become extensively heated due to heavy use, icy water and snow from the road surface can be splashed up directly at the back of your brake rotor, resulting in potential warping or cracking in severe cases.

Maintenance Concerns

Because dust and grime can more easily make its way into your braking system, prolonged use without a dust shield can lead to accelerated buildup of road grime and dirt. In severe cases, this can lead to malfunction and increased difficulty with maintenance. Brake dust is relatively easy to clean from a braking system, but dirt, sand and road grime can be substantially more difficult.

In relatively clean, dry areas with mild weather, removing your dust shields will not immediately cause any problems with your brakes, nor will it significantly shorten their lifespan. The same however, does not hold true in areas with extensively harsh weather or seasonal snowfall. In areas with heavy rain, dust or snow, removing your dust shields can accelerate corrosion and potentially lead to premature failure, so it's best to leave them equipped whenever possible in these cases.

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