Rayloc outlines best brake service practices and trends
Atlanta—Brake service is one of the most important repairs a technician can perform, especially from a safety standpoint. Every vehicle isn’t the same, nor is every driver, and shops need to address each vehicle and customer’s needs. Tony McKey, senior manager, marketing operations at Rayloc, a division of Genuine Parts, outlined best brake practices and trends in a recent webinar.
Three key shifts in brake technology
Over the past decade, there have been new ideas and technologies introduced into the braking world, most notably in three areas:
• Brakes systems continue to get smaller with an focus by OEMs to increase miles per gallon, and they do so by examining the weight of the unsprung mass of a vehicle (below the shock/strut assemblies) and rotating mass — essentially, the braking system.
• There’s been a change in brakes from being an autonomous system to being integrated with safety systems, such as traction control and stability control. “If a car loses traction or starts to go into a slide, brakes are engaged without the driver’s knowledge to correct for those events,” McKey said.
• Brake manufacturing is moving away from semi-metallic formulations to more organic ones. Starting in the mid-1980s, the industry saw a shift to ceramic formulations, which feature good qualities such as being quiet, but they also have limitations.
“All three of these changes have led to a ‘perfect storm’ tahat results in smaller and hotter brake systems, which, at times, can be challenging,” McKey said.
The basic function of a braking system is to take the kinetic energy of a moving vehicle and create heat, which makes the vehicle stop. “The brakes are then responsible for effectively releasing the heat — and a smaller, hotter brake system is more difficult to manage.”
Those changes in brake systems are consistent across all vehicles, with the exception of European vehicles. “That segment has lagged behind in shifting to ceramic formulations, excluding makes such Mercedes-Benz and BMW, however,” he said.
Preparing techs for brake service
Techs must understand that today’s brakes are smaller and hotter, which makes a brake job more technical than ever before, McKey said.
“While there are more demands being placed on present-day systems, customers’ expectations haven’t changed. There’s still high demand for no noise, a long-lasting product and aggressive stopping.”
He said NAPA highly recommends using the proper product during the install, and using it in combination with what NAPA refers to as “The Perfect Brake Job.”
“There are more than 50 steps that we have identified that can mean the difference between and happy customer and a dissatisfied one,” said McKey, adding that they basically boil down to a few key categories:
• Thorough cleaning of the system of all rust and baked-on brake dust, which will improve the product fit and, ultimately, its longevity.
• Lubricating metal-to-metal contact points is important in reducing and eliminating noise.
• Washing rotors with soap and water when they’ve been machined in the shop so loosened particles don’t embed in the brake pads and cause a grind or growl.
• Making sure the rotor is trued to the hub and that it runs true through the caliper, which prevents brake pulsation.
Legislation in California and Washington
The “Better Brake Rule” legislation on the books in California and Washington for the past five years dictates, from a manufacturer’s standpoint, how much copper can be placed in brake pad formulations.
“Copper is really important in the brake pad manufacturing process because as the formulation is baked in, it allows the heat to get into the middle of the formulation — essentially cooking it from the middle out,” he said. “Without copper, it makes it more difficult, though some good workarounds have been identified.”