When wheels are covered with brake dust, the entire car looks dirty and in many cases, a basic wash will do little to rectify the problem. Most associate brake dust as a mere nuisance, but others actually see the sight of pad particles as a fundamental problem with the functionality of a vehicle's brakes. That may sound a bit strange to some, but J.D. Power seems to agree that brake dust is indeed a quality problem.

The long-running quality survey added brake dust as one of its 228 quality concerns back in 2006 in response to several survey-takers filling in "brake dust" as a write-in complaint. David Sargent, vice president for automotive research at J.D. Power, told The New York Times that brake dust is given the same weight as serious mechanical malfunctions. The reason, says Sargent, is that customers don't feel that brake dust is "trivial," and while malfunctions can be repaired, brake dust lingers for a very long time.

When asked by The Times why brake dust is even on a quality survey, Sargent mentioned that the survey gauges consumer perception, adding "the purpose of the study is to report back problems as defined by consumers."

Conversely, Consumer Reports does not use brake dust as a quality issue. Vehicle testing head Mark Champion admitted to the Times that cleaning brake dust is annoying, "but it is not actually a failure of the brakes." What say you? Hit the jump to take part in our poll.

[Source: NY Times Wheels Blog]

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