Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
At one point in time, I got myself some brake pads that had an extra piece that I assumed was some sort of thick heat-reducing pad. It went between the pad and piston. This was several years ago, and I have continued to use it with new brake pads that did not include this “accessory.” I’m wondering if there is a downside to including this extra piece for brake pads that are not designed for it?
Steve Baum,
Menlo Park, CA

Well, Mr. Baum, it would help just a skosh if you could have taken the time to fill me in on what machine your missive concerns. In the past, Honda was one of the first to use a heat dissipater on its pads. It fit onto the pad closest to the rear-brake caliper. At the time, Honda owned the “best brakes” category, and its brakes would stay the coolest. Since then, many have adopted this concept, and if you have the proper heat shields, I would always run them. That being said, the best way to keep your brakes performing properly and to fight off heat fade is to change the brake fluid. Once rear brake fluid overheats, it gradually starts to lose it ability to fight heatstroke, resulting in a system that will start to fade until you eventually lose the pedal altogether.

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