Here\u2019s What Happens When Red Hot Rotors Meet Water

The most important part of any car is its braking system. Sure, a car needs to be able to move, but keeping a mobile car static is paramount. If you’ve ever taken a car out on a track or watched the glowing rotors behind the wheels of race cars, you’re probably aware that brake rotors can get hot. Unfortunately, piping hot brake rotors can also find puddles of water, or rain spray, that can rapidly cool those warm brakes. While that’s generally a non-issue, it only makes sense that the folks at Garage 54 would take this to the logical extreme.



This experiment starts innocent enough: Take a heavily modified Toyota Supra, remove the wheels and see what happens when you quickly cool the rear brakes with water. In true Garage 54 fashion, instead of checking the rear rotor’s runout with a dial indicator, the host uses a wrench fixed firmly to his hand. Obviously, the rotors’ runout won’t matter later in the experiment.

As the team ramps up the temperature, the obvious happens: cracking. While you likely thought there would be large amounts of warping happening with this quickly cooled rotor, the real problem—at high temperatures—is the iron rotor stress cracking. The temperatures these rotors are seeing probably would be hard on a set of rotors regardless of how they cool, but quickly quenching red hot rotors with a hose is a quick way to destroy your brakes.

The moral of the story: Getting your road car’s rotors wet is far from your brake system’s biggest issue. Though, now you know what happens when someone douses their cherry-red rotors with water.

Have you ever had a brake rotor fail catastrophically? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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