I have a 2005 Jeep that never had brake dust in the four years that I have owned it. However, I had the front brakes done last November and ever since then my Jeep has a lot of brake dust. The dealer says that this is normal but I think this can't be right and the dust returns after every wash. Any suggestions?
You know, George, you would think in this day and age of easy access to information, that any business would do a simple web search when encountering a customer concern.
Oh well. I can help George. There are a couple of ways to approach this issue and anyone with an "open" style of wheel is susceptible to this problem - steel or alloy.
Brake dust is something we have to live with as the materials being used now are no longer organic compounds such as cashew particles - yes, the kind you find in grandma's wooden nut bowl at Christmas - rubber chips and asbestos. Instead, synthetic and metallic compounds such as aramid, ceramics, steel and copper fibres are popular.
Some of these new materials are combined in a way that that makes them very soft, and for a couple of good reasons. First, the softer the compound, generally the less the squeal from the disc brakes. Second, softer disc brake pads will not wear out the rotors that they are expected to rub against in order to stop your Jeep. This is a really good thing, because replacing rotors on a regular basis is extremely expensive.
Manufacturers of OEM parts as well as the aftermarket segment like this. They don't want brake noises because it usually means a warranty claim that is not real. That is, these guys know that brakes can squeal but consumers don't necessarily know that this is the case. Therefore, if a consumer buys brake parts, installs them, and they squeal - something's gotta be wrong - right? This problem is eliminated by building a product that is soft and resistant to squeal.
There are, however, a couple of solutions for you George.
Search for harder disc brake pads. They are available options at most parts suppliers.
Install brake dust shields. I can tell you they work because I have used them. They are available at many big parts store chains and usually cost from $30-$50. These shields look like tin pie plates painted black. One of the big players in this game is "Kleen Wheels". The dust shields mount inside the wheel with friction but once the wheel is bolted back in place, the wheel studs and nuts hold it in place.
Brake dust is not only ugly on expensive alloy wheels, but it is highly corrosive. Depending on the chemical make-up of the disc pads, this dust can pit and corrode the aluminum to the point where the wheel can be permanently damaged. If left to get to this stage, in many cases, the only fix is to buy a new wheel.
But having the choice to use brake dust shields is good option. One little tip: each time you wash your Jeep, blast water through the wheel openings to keep the vent holes on the shields clear of debris as they keep the brakes cool.