Why Is My Rear Wheel Getting Hot?

So you’ve driven a few miles and have either noticed a smoke cloud coming from your wheels or you have stopped and can smell that burnt smell around your car. Don’t worry here you will know why is the rear wheel getting hot?

What Causes is Rear Wheel Getting Hot?

So you’ve driven a few miles and have either noticed a smoke cloud coming from your wheels or you have stopped and can smell that burnt smell around

1. Automatic Slack Adjusters

Automatic slack adjusters sometimes will keep setting up until the shoes are dragging on the drum, creating wheel drag and heat. If this is found to be the problem replace both the left and right slack adjusters on that axle. If the wheel was hot enough you may want to go ahead and do the wheel seal as well.

Spring Brake leaking into the service side of the chamber, while your driving the rear part of the springbreake is charged with air, after time the rear part of the chamber can leak air into the service side of the chamber which will apply the brake, but it will carry through that whole circuit and apply more than one wheel brake. To find a leaking spring brake that blocks your wheels, remove the service airlines on the spring brakes and push in your dash valve, whichever service port is leaking, replace that spring break.

2. Bearing Pre-load

Bearing pre-load can create problems as well, too tight and the wheel gets hot and starts to melt the bearing cages which welds components to the axle and allows the wheel to separate from the axle. Too loose can create hammering and heat which damages the bearing cage and can have the same result as being too tight. Make sure you find out the axle manufacturers’ wheel tightening specs before you put your truck back into service.

3. S-cam

Sticking S-cam – lack of grease or long-life bushings can bunch up and freeze the cam, so it will apply but not release, so it will always create wheel drag and heat the wheel. Also, inspect the s-cam housing or cams themselves for misalignment.

4. Frozen Pins

Frozen pins in the slack adjuster could limit the movement of the brake rod, over time this could allow the rod not to return and cause the shoes to drag. Also snow, sand & gravel can enter through the rod hole which can lead to the brakes not releasing and creating a hot wheel, use brake rod boots as much as possible to keep the junk out.

5. Disc Brakes

If you have disc brakes your pads could be gone and the metal to metal braking could be causing heat, if the calliper was loose-fitting or retaining parts fell off a worn pad may be thrown out and the calliper will rub on the rotor.

6. Trailer Hand Brake

Driving with the trailer hand brake partially applied or the dash buttons still out, ( it happens more than you think )

Differential problems heat transfer to the outer wheels, check the carrier for extreme heat, possible oil loss, bearing failure, etc.

Ever Noticed Rear Wheel Getting Hot?

While we were out driving around, I noticed the right front wheel got very hot. So hot I couldn’t touch the wheel. It smelled of burning, similar to electrical smouldering. The left front was warm, but not hot. We had only been driving around for about an hour, but there were some hills involved. I had the brake pads and rotors replaced less than a month ago. The van didn’t pull to the right or feel like there was a brake issue. I had the mechanics examine the brakes, and they could not find any evidence of overheating. Calliper was working freely. So, no parts were replaced after the incident.

What Else Could Cause This?

They said they also checked the wheel bearings. This is front-wheel drive. I specifically asked if they would let their mother drive it, and they said yes, it was safe. Should I be concerned? Get another opinion? My brother, a retired mechanic, says there is still something wrong. It just means we haven’t found it yet. How would you handle it?

 It sure sounds as if the right front brake calliper piston failed to properly retract or binding of the calliper’s sliding pins causing continuing clamping of the brake pads. A faulty wheel bearing can generate considerable heat also but would have additional identifiable symptoms such as looseness and/or noise. Good job identifying the excessive heat was localized to one wheel, as that rules out a multitude of other possibilities!

Your Town and Country van employs disc brakes on the front axle. Single piston callipers squeeze brake pads against the brake rotors as hydraulic pressure is applied by the master cylinder. When pressure is released, a square cut seal surrounding the calliper piston twists back to its relaxed position, drawing the piston ever so slightly rearward. This action, along with a slight amount of knockback from rotor run-out, allows required brake pad/rotor clearance. The brake calliper floats on pins, allowing the calliper’s single-side clamping force to be equalized to both sides of the rotor and relax to an unloaded position.


Hope the above-mentioned information helps you to understand what causes the rear wheel getting hot and you can cool it down.

If you have any queries then please leave a comment we will get back to you soon.


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