RECALL: GM Calls Back Some 2,000 Chevy Cruze’s For Braking Issues

The National Highway Traffic Administration has announced they are issuing a mandatory recall of 1,733 cars manufactured between February 4, 2015 and February 9, 2015 due to concerns regarding the functionality of the parking brake.

The issue is inside the brake cable brackets. When not fastened properly, the bracket can separate completely, dramatically increasing the possibility of a runaway car or a hazardous crash.

GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect both rear parking brake brackets bolts, tightening them as necessary, free of charge.

The recall is expected to begin in this month. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM’s number for this recall is 15135.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

TECH: Why Changes in the OE Friction Levels of an OE Brake Pad Is a Bad Idea

724682ImportCar_00000030138When the friction value changes, which it will most certainly do with different friction material, the stability control and ABS systems will not get to the best correction as quickly as it was capable of when it had all of the parts it was expecting. In most cases, the system will learn and correct for the “error” the new pads have introduced. It just will take more tries to get there and take longer. This results in reduced efficiency by some measurable factor.

The systems will still operate and still provide substantial improvements in vehicle handling control and safety vs. not having them. They are highly adaptable, but they just won’t be as perfect as they once were. In most cases, this will be very difficult, if not impossible, to detect at the driver seat.

If you were to measure the true performance of the vehicle by things like stopping distance, amount of steering correction, amount of pedal feedback and more complicated things like yaw gains and maneuver entry speeds, you could expect to find measurable degradation under many maneuvers.

Since the system is generally very good at minimizing these effects, it would be easy to convince the driver/ consumer that this is of no consequence and that they should not consider this as part of their buying decision when it comes to selection of brake replacement.

The ability to “copy” a friction material’s characteristics is a very difficult task under the best of circumstances. All service technicians should consider that the OEMs and developers of these systems have invested thousand of hours by some really smart and dedicated people and spent millions of dollars to tune these systems to their maximum capability and insure they work in absolute harmony with the rest of the vehicle.

While this is done in some pretty obscure and unfriendly environments at times, it is all done to ensure maximum performance and control in the blizzard, torrential downpour or when the dog jumps in front of YOUR car. Any decision to compromise this balance should be given careful consideration. As a general guideline, I would offer the following few thoughts:

  1. If you chose to not use high-quality replacement pads that mirrors the original friction characteristics, always chose a material with the same friction rating on the edge code. (EE, FF) etc.
  2. If you chose to change the friction level to a different value (i.e. from EE to FF), change it on all four wheels together. Do this regardless of the level of wear on the other axle, and regardless of whether you are choosing to raise or lower the friction level. This will at least ensure that the braking ratio from front-to-rear is maintained as much as possible.
  3. Never replace only the Rear Brakes with a pad that has a higher friction level than what is specified for the vehicle. This will increase the amount of rear braking and increase the potential for a rear over brake condition under some road surface and loading conditions.

In the modern vehicle, the wheel brake is challenged to contribute to a great many vehicle driving conditions extending way beyond just stopping the car. The friction material is a very key element in this. To maintain the optimum performance, it is important to understand the implications of the choices that are being offered to consumers and help them make an educated decision.

TECH TIP: Audi/VW Electric Brake Calipers Won’t Retract

$_35Vehicle Applications:

2004 A8 Quattro 4.2
2005-’06 A6 Quattro 4.2
2005-’07 A6 Quattro 3.2
2005 A8 Quattro 4.2 and 6.0
2006 Passat 3.6
2006-’07 Passat 2.0
2009 Q5 3.2

Customer Concern: When replacing the rear brake pads, the technician cannot get the calipers to retract.

Tests/Procedures:

  1. With a factory-compatible scan tool, read and erase any stored fault codes.
  2. To retract calipers:
    – Enter address word “53 – Parking brake.”
    – Enter function “04 – Basic setting.”
    – Request display group 007.
  3. The caliper motors should now retract. If they do not, but the motor runs, the calipers will have to be manually pushed back in.
  4. Replace the brake pads.
  5. To extend the calipers:
    – Enter address word “53 – Parking brake.”
    – Enter function “04 – Basic setting.”
    – Request display group 006.
    – The calipers will now extend.
  6. Cycle the parking brake switch on and then off.
  7. To perform parking brake basic setting:
    – Enter address word “53 – Parking brake.”
    – Enter function “04 – Basic setting.”
    – Request display group 010.

This performs a function test of the parking brake system. The calipers should open and close three times. Wait 30 seconds after this is done.

– Enter function “06 – Stop communication.”

Note: It is normal for the parking brake LED in the instrument cluster to blink rapidly or be on solid while performing this procedure. This should stop after cycling the parking brake on, then off again.

Courtesy of Identifix.

How To Safely Stop A Car With Failing Brakes in 11 Steps

1) First thing is first, DO NOT PANIC. When dealing with a dire situation like being behind the wheel of a uncontrollable speeding hunk of metal, it is important you don’t lose your cool. Panicking can cloud your judgement and cause you to think irrationally, which is the last thing you want to do in a situation like this.

2) Take your foot off the gas and check to make sure cruise control isn’t on.

3) Pay attention to how your brake pedal feels. If it’s soft and goes to the floor, you more than likely need to replace your braking fluid, have a faulty master cylinder or just general problems with your drums or calipers.

-If, however, your brake pedal is hard and does not move at all, that means something in your braking system may have stopped working or you may have a something under the pedal. Try to feel with your foot (or have a passenger look) to see whether you have something under the brake pedal.

4) Pump your brakes. Pumping your brakes several times could possibly rebuild enough pressure in the braking system for you to stop. This may take a while, so keep trying. You should do this even if your car is equipped with ABS, as the ABS is only activated when your car is braking too hard (which won’t be the problem if your brakes have failed). Next,  whether the car has ABS brakes or not, press the brakes down to the floor to make the most out of all of the pressure you have preserved or built-up, as hydraulic (or air) brakes rarely fail all together. Keep the brakes pressed to the floor.

5) Shift into low gear. Shifting into lower gears is one of the least known ways to slow your car. If you have an automatic transmission, downshift a gear at a time into low range (generally labeled as “1” on the shifting mechanism). If you have a manual transmission, downshift a gear or two at a time, feel the car slow, and repeat as you work down through the gears.

6) Use the emergency brake. The emergency brake, or better known as parking brake, can usually stop a vehicle, although it will take longer than usual to come to a stop because it only applies stopping power to the rear wheels. Apply the brake carefully and steadily; your emergency brake can lock your tire if applied too hard or too fast, especially at high speed. If you pull up the brake quickly, you may lose control of your vehicle. To prevent this, keep the release button engaged (if your car has one) as you apply the emergency brake. This allows you to control the pressure with which you are applying the brake.

7) Keep your eyes on the road and continue to steer. Pay attention to what’s in front of you, and maneuver to avoid heavy traffic, pedestrians, and dangerous obstacles.

8) Make sure other drivers know you’re there. Turn your hazard lights on, and honk your horn to make others aware that there is a problem. While they may not know what your issue is, a warning like that should cause most people to proceed with caution and pay attention to what your vehicle is doing.

9) If you have room on either side of you, steer sharply from side-to-side. Turning creates friction, which naturally will slow you down. If you do not have brakes, try turning sharply from left to right over and over to slow your car down. Do not do this at high speeds. Turning at high speeds may flip your car and turning too sharply at any speed can spin your car around, so be careful.

10) Use your surroundings to slow you. If none if the aforementioned is working, try to use the guardrails, terrain, runaway truck ramps or even shrubbery to slow your car. Use the back of a car as a last resort.

11) Look for a safe spot to pull over (or to crash). Search the road ahead for a safe area to pull over once you’re able to come to a stop. If you’re not able to bring the vehicle to a complete stop, look for open spaces that you can coast across without hitting anything.

I hope you have learned something from these 11 easy steps! If you never have to use them thats good, but it is wise to learn these tips just in case you have to.

Thank you to WikiHow for the tips

Seven Signs You Need A Brake Job

Safety is a top consideration for drivers. While today’s cars offer more safety features than ever, from passive devices like air bags to active features such as stability control, nothing replaces careful attention to the most fundamental safety feature: brakes.

An annual brake inspection should be at the top of every motorist’s to-do list. Better yet, year-round attention to braking performance and developing the habit of listening for signs that brakes need attention should be part of every wise driver’s skillset. Channel Five News Colorado provides some key tips to keep in mind when assessing the current state of your brakes and your need for brake repair.

Check it out!

Here are 7 signs your brakes need to be inspected:

1. Feel any drag? Be alert to brakes that seem to stick, wheels that are hot or an engine that seems to lose power. The brakes may be failing to release; alternately, the condition could reverse, leaving you with no brakes at all.

2. There’s a pull. Does the vehicle pull to the left or right when brakes are applied? Make sure tires are fully inflated. If the pull persists, it’s time for a professional to check the brakes.

3. Stomping on the brakes? It should not take extreme muscle power to make the brakes work. This “hard pedal” symptom, when the brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging, can indicate brake trouble.

4. Brake light is on. There are several reasons the brake light is illuminated on the vehicle dashboard. The problem could be simple: brake fluid could be low. Or, it could involve a hydraulic system failure.

5. Shake, shake, shake. Can you feel the brake pedal, steering wheel or your entire vehicle vibrating, pulsating or shaking? This may indicate a problem with disc brake rotors or a faulty steering mechanism.

6. There’s a racket. Brakes should operate with very little noise. Don’t ignore squeals, screeches, grinding, groaning, chatter, clatter or bangs. Your brakes may need repair.

7. Grab. “Touchy” brakes that grab with the least bit of pressure may indicate that brake linings are contaminated with grease or oil, or a component is broken and could fail.

Brakes wear out and will eventually need to be replaced. How quickly depends on factors unique to you: your driving habits, type of vehicle and when and where you drive.

TECH TIP: Minimum Wear Specifications For Brake Pads

21873bfIt is impossible to estimate the life left in a brake pad. Some shops use a percentage. While I do realize that it is a number most consumers might be able to understand, it is misleading and often inaccurate and if you asked other technicians, you would get different numbers every time.

If you were to properly estimate the percentage of material worn on a brake pad, you would first have to know how much was there in the first place. This number is near impossible to find in books or on a database. Sure you could get a new set of pads for the vehicle and use that as a reference, but would you really want to keep that many pads around for just reference?

Every vehicle has a “minimum wear specification” for the brake pads. This number is typically between two and three millimeters. At this point, caliper piston travel maybe too excessive, or the friction material attachment method may lose its effectiveness and cause the friction material to shear away from the backing plate if it has rivets. But, the minimum wear specification on modern cars has more to do with how far the piston calipers will  have to travel in the bores.

The minimum wear specification is measured from the backing plate to the lowest point of wear on the friction’s face that contacts the rotor. On some vehicles, this can be measured without disassembly.

I love a percentage just as much as the next guy. But, “eyeballed” percentages should not be used when inspecting brakes.