One of the most commonly debated things within the auto industry is what the best type of lubrication method is for your brakes. I’ve worked in different companies in the past, and I can tell you from experience that each of these firms uses a completely different lubrication for their brakes.
If you’re looking for a wheel bearing grease for your brakes (which I wrote about in greater detail here), then you should look for a specific brake lubricant for the pins. You can just use a regular ceramic based lubricant for the pads. Do not under any circumstance use a copper grease, as this can be detrimental and have a negative effect on the performance of your brakes.
Although you can use the specific brake grease for everything, this is my personal preference of using ceramic lubricants for the pads themselves. The reality is that a copper grease is a bad idea, though many people don’t understand why they should avoid using copper grease on their brakes.
Why Copper Grease is a No Go
The question brake grease vs anti seize is hard, because technically copper grease fits into both of these categories. It’s a grease, but it’s actually an anti seize compound.
If you’re looking to grease your brakes, then using copper grease is a bad idea. There are a few reasons for this. Copper grease is an anti seize compound, so whilst technically it isn’t a lubricant, it’s often used for these purposes.
- Using Copper Grease is a sure way to seize up the slider pins – When I first started doing this type of thing many years ago, many people were using copper grease for their entire brakes. “Just use a little less, it won’t hurt”, I was told. It was only after a recurring issue that I told my manager I’d be using a silicone based grease from now on – the copper grease had caused the slider pins to seize. The brakes seizing is usually the case when the pins aren’t lubricated properly, but for me this actually ended up making them worse!
- It can have an effect on the ABS sensors – Another of the major problems with using copper grease is that is can have a detrimental effect on the ABS sensors. The ABS is the Anti-Lock Brake System, so it’s important that you don’t effect this.
- Galvanic Corrosion – Overuse of copper grease can undoubtedly corrode your brakes, though this is unlikely to happen in a brake mechanism it’s still a possibility to avoid.
- It isn’t even a lubricant – Copper grease isn’t even a lubricant, so it doesn’t make sense to use it for this need. There are other compounds that work better for this.
- Copper is a good conductor – Copper is obviously known for being a good conductor of heat. If your brakes have a lot of rubber – the o rings and seals – does it make sense to use copper grease with these other things nearby?
Many mechanics will argue that you really need to overdo it with the copper grease for any of these situations to occur. And yes, I’d tend to agree with them that if you were to use a little copper grease, then it would likely be okay.
But the reality is that there are other lubricants that are as effective as copper grease as an anti seize the brakes which are less likely to have adverse side effects. So, it really makes no sense to use a copper grease for your brakes. A little copper grease may be okay for the sides of your brakes, but it still isn’t the wisest choice.
What to Use Instead
Instead of using copper grease on your brake pads, you should look to use a lubricant that’s specifically designed for greasing brakes. There are a few options on the market to choose from, and I’ll share with you a couple of my favorites.
Mission Automotive Grease
- SEALS AND PROTECTS: Our dielectric grease is a thick, long lasting waterproof synthetic silicone lubricant (lube) that prevents oxidation, inhibits corrosion & seals out contaminants such as salt & dirt; non-melting, stable consistency from -55-570 F
- MULTITUDE OF USES: Silicone paste / silicone grease is perfect for a variety of automotive, electrical and marine uses and compatible with a variety of materials, including metal, rubber and plastic; prevents voltage leaks around electrical connections
- GREAT FOR MANY COMMON TASKS: Most common uses of marine grease including changing spark plugs, lubricating brake caliper pins, lubricating and preserving rubber gaskets, O-rings, hoses, weatherstripping, etc., and fixing sluggish car windows
- APPLICATOR BRUSH FOR EASE OF APPLICATION: Applicator brush attached inside lid at an angle; product will be clear/transparent/translucent to slightly milky-white. PLEASE NOTE: Applicator brush intentionally bent to maximize reach to jar edges
- TOP QUALITY: Produced to the highest industry standards
My favorite grease at the moment is undoubtedly this Mission Automotive grease, mainly because it’s cheap and effective. It’s definitely worth looking at picking some up if you’re trying to get a good brake grease.
- high film strength, stays put and water repellent
- Applications: brake pads, calipers, rubber boots, fan belts, v-belts, weather stripping, trunk seals and bumpers
- This is a Napa private branding of american grease stick company (ags) sil-glyde sg-8
- Chemical Working Temperatures: -20 To 500 Deg. F.
Sil Glyde, as the name suggests, is one of the most popular silicone based lubricants over recent years. It’s another one of my favorite options of all, mainly because I’ve always got some laying around. I only need to purchase some every so often and it seems to last a lifetime.
What I like most about Sil Glyde is that you can use it for pretty much anything – I use it for my brakes as well as stuff in my garden, too!
3M Clear Silicone Paste
Another extremely popular option for the brakes is to use 3M clear silicone paste. It’s a good quality silicone lubricant that does exactly what it says it will.
If you want metal to metal, then you should opt for the 08945 brake lube – this is your best bet. If you want to use it for your piston, then you’re better off going for their 08946 paste instead.
- 100% synthetic formula with ceramic solids forming a premium quality brake lubricant
- Resistant to moisture, corrosion and contaminants - will not wash out
- Silences brake noise across a much wider temperature range and maintains lubricant integrity
- Lasts longer and easily outperforms ordinary caliper greases and traditional disc brake quiet products
- Suggested applications include disc brake caliper hardware, pistons, brushings, rubber sleeves and seals
Round up the group of likely the most popular ingredients when considering brake lubricant, Permatex are another of the most popular companies used for brake grease. Their Ceramic based lubricant is their most popular, and is used by many mechanics around the world. I mainly use a ceramic parts lubricant like this one for the backs of the brake pads.
You don’t have to use this lube on only the back pads though. It’s more than suitable for the calipers, too.
How to Grease the Brake Slide Pins
Once you know how to grease your slide pins, it becomes an easy task. But at first, it can be a little daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing properly.
This is the best video guide that I’ve seen which goes through each stage of how to lubricate your guide pins without damaging them.
Overall, these are the best options for you if you’re trying to grease your brake pins. They are definitely the best options – if you’re trying to grease your own brakes, you’ll undoubtedly want to opt for a lubricant specifically designed for this need. Some mechanics and others will use whatever they have on hand, but for safety you should use a good quality brake grease to be safe.
You don’t want to skimp on brake lubricants in general, because they can easily seize up if you use the wrong form of lubrication.