Brake Fade for Honda Accord V-6

Are others having safety issues, specifically brake fade, with Honda Accord?

Since we recently had a question regarding “brake fade” that turned out to be something other than actual brake fade, please describe exactly what is the nature of the problem with your brakes.

Actual “brake fade” has not been seen in many years, ever since the universal advent of disk brakes, so it is necessary to hear your exact description of what is happening when you hit the brakes, and under what conditions the unusual symptoms appear.

What year? I have a 2005 and the brakes are great - even after I replaced the fluid. :wink:

How many miles are on it? Has the brake fluid ever been replaced? Brake fluid can absorb moisture over time. Overheating the fluid can degrade it. Those issues can make the brakes squishy, if that’s what you mean by brake fade. If you overheat the brakes you will experience brake fade, but not otherwise - and only when they are hot.

Approximately 10minutes of braking coming down from Yosemite National Park. On first instance, the brakes are pulsing, causing the car to judder with ABS-like symptoms. On second instance, the car would not stop despite extremely high pressure on brake pedal, which did not sink to floor. 2006 Honda Accord Hybrid/

2006 Honda Accord Hybrid with 35k miles.

Long downhills are hard on brakes - can you not downshift to reduce the continuous brake use?

Clearly, I will now that I know that Honda brakes fade so readily. I thought that vented front disks would be an improvement over my drum-braked Jeep that I drove 20 years ago. :wink:

BTW, I inspected the brakes. Turns out the passenger rear pads are at approximately 3mm, whereas the driver rears are at 5mm. Front pads are evenly worn. I’ve not seen uneven pad wear previously.

First of all, it is foolish to use just the brakes to slow the car on a long downhill grade. In situations like this, you should always downshift at least one gear–possibly two gears–depending on your speed on those downgrades.

Secondly, the car is overdue for changing/flushing the brake hydraulic system. This should be done every 3 years/30k miles, whichever comes first. The reason for this is that brake fluid is hygroscopic (meaning that it absorbs moisture from the air).

After a few years, the dilution of the brake fluid with water can be sufficient to cause it to BOIL under hard use. What constitutes hard use? Doing exactly what the OP did, by using just the brakes on a long downhill grade. When the brake fluid boils, it causes brake fade.

The Honda manual, and Honda shop manual, dictate that the recommendation of changing brake fluid is to be completed per the maintenance minder system. Nothing is stated about a 30k nor 3year change period.

These days, a lot of brakes are just made too small. I can excuse brake fade after ten minutes of use while on long steep hills. It is a definite downshift situation. It kind of makes those manual shift nuts seem like bright people. I guess that the downshift strategy is to downshift an automatic when you would definitely use a lower gear with a manual transmission.

Possibly excusable for Honda to undersize brake system, but surprising for a modern vehicle. This was by no means a race down the hill, since there were several other cars in front of me. One of which came perilously close to my front bumper to brake failure.

Upon inspection, there is asymmetric wear on brake pads between driver and passenger rear. Also, there is a TSB, 07-045 documenting similar symptoms Honda has identified.

I am sure that this reliance on the maintenance minder system will be very comforting to you the next time that the brake fluid boils and you lose your braking ability.

All I can do is to advise you to change/flush the brake hydraulic system every 30k miles. I have done that religiously on my cars, and have never experienced brake fade, nor have I had any rotting-out of the brake lines, such as has been reported on this board by more than one person. (In case you were not aware of it, internal corrosion of brake lines and other components is the other nasty side-effect of excess moisture in the brake hydraulic system.)

I know that I am perhaps more proactive than most people, but preventing problems and accidents is invariably cheaper (and safer) than not being proactive.

Hybirds use 2 types of braking systems, first they regenerate power. When you step on the brakes the electric motor switches from using power to generating power. This is effective in slowing the car without even activating the standard disk braking system.

If the design of the hybrid system is correct and the brakes are working properly I’d expect a hybrid to brake better in the long downhill situation where you encounter significant fade.

Something is wrong in either the design, the execution, or maintenance of the brakes in this case. Perhaps because of the hybird regenerative braking Honda undersized the regular brake disks and pads too much.

In general on any long downhills I don’t like to “ride” the brakes. Rather I shift the transmission into a lower gear, 3 or even 2 if they are available on the Accord hybrid would be the gear(s) to use if you encounter a similar situation again.

Brake fade with modern cars seems very rare these days. I haven’t experienced brake fade since my '67 Mustang.

@UncleTurbo - Correct! Hybrid regen does have the effect of slowing the vehicle on slopes, exchanging kinetic energy for chemical energy in the batteries. However, AFAIK, the brake rotors are the same on conventional honda accord v-6 and the hybrid.

BTW, more shop-manual guided diagnostics on the uneven rear pad wear last evening showed that the brakes are dragging a bit. Sigh. Et tu, Honda?

I tend to follow the counsel of the designers and manufacturer of the vehicle, particularly in the warranty period, rather than “religion”. This may be more rigorous than most in following manufacturer guidance than most, but an engineering background helps in this regard. BTW, this driver has not experienced brake fade on any other car I’ve owned either, even on the same roads. Only the Honda Accord 2006 has had this failure mode.

Either as stated something is up with the hybrid system and this requires a dealer to look into.

Otherwise it could be simply your rotors are warped slightly and this gets very pronounced after heating up and you notice the judder. My wife’s car needs the rotors machined or replaced. We experience similar symptoms of “fade” a bit after hard usage(stop fast on highway or elongated usage down steeper hills). This “fade” also includes a pulsating brake pedal.

@andrew_j - This might indeed be related to hybrid; the SOC (state of charge) dashboard indicator was 6 of 6 bars (equivalent to full, AFAIK). This was the first incident, with the resultant brake pedal pulsing. The next morning, no pulsing, but not full SOC either.

The second incident was brake fade, or at least symptomatically appeared like fade. No pulse this time, just armadillo-crushing force on the brake pedal with very little effect on forward velocity.

@andrew_j - The Honda dealership marked as couldn’t reproduce, not taking me up on an offer to demonstrate brake failure to them. Interestingly, they also did not know about a TSB when calling me to tell me that ‘no problem found’. They also did not bleed the brakes, nor note the brake pedal sinking to the floor. An independent shop did find this problem, and in less than 30minutes.

Don’t expect any type work to be done on a car labled “no problem found” or “could not duplicate”. The reason, as soon as a Dealer starts working on a car they have admitted that there is a problem,something they are not doing.

Are you trying to link a TSB that deals with uneven pad wear to your issue,brake fade? this will not work. Now if the TSB is one that deals with brake fade you are free to bring it in to the discussion.