Q: What is causing my front driver side tire to smoke?

asked by on December 26, 2016

I have a 91 Honda civic one night I was driving my niece to town when I smelled something burning like some kind of rubber was burning I also noticed my car was losing speed to I decided to try my brake pedal it was very hard to push down so I decided to pull over to a gas station that's when thick white smoke was starting to come from my front left tire (driver side) so I waited until the smoke cleared away before driving it home cut my car on and mashed the brakes the brake pedal went back to normal and I was able to drive back home

My car has 250673 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

It sounds like the left front brake was stuck in the applied position. The constant friction overheated the brake pads and they started smoking. Heating up may have caused the brake fluid temperature to reach it’s boiling point. Even though it seemed normal after sitting, there is a hydraulic issue. First, the brake caliper itself may not be releasing fully. That can be caused by the caliper piston not retracting or even the caliper hardware sticking, not allowing the caliper to slide back to the released position. Another possibility can be the rubber brake hose. With age, the internals of the hose ca separate, causing a small flap of material to block brake fluid flow. It can act as sort of a 1-way valve. The brake fluid traveled to the caliper from the master cylinder, but that "flap" may not have allowed the fluid to go back, keeping the brake applied.

Another possibility can be the master cylinder itself. There can be an issue with the port to the left front wheel not allowing proper fluid travel. Have a certified technician inspect the brake system to find the correct cause.

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What you’re describing here appears to be an indication of a locked up wheel that caused your tire to "skid" which created the smoke and loss of acceleration. In some cases this is caused by a malfunctioning brake master cylinder, caliper or brake rotor that is warped. If you "mashed" on the brake pedal and the issue went away, you should have a professional mobile mechanic complete a brake system inspection as soon as possible to determine what is causing this potentially dangerous situation to occur.

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