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Millbrook GM European Proving Grounds

European Proving Grounds Millbrook is a 700 acre facility about 40 miles north of London with test tracks and testing facilities for aerospace, military, vehicle production, driver training (Aston Martin), and real-time online vehicle tracking. Here is link to the Millbrook website. Construction began in 1968 for a smaller version …

Auto Body Tems

Automotive Body Terms Every automotive professional has been challenged by their lack of knowledge regarding this particular terminology. Complications arise when the same parts and sub-assemblies are referred to with different names even if everyone speaks English. Furthermore, every automotive technical professional has been frustrated by their lack of knowledge …

Low Speed Vehicles – Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

  LSV Low Speed Vehicles and NEV Neighborhood Electric Vehicles represent a classification for a Federally approved street-legal vehicle that is speed limited to 25 mph.  This United States Department of Transportation [USDOT] legislation was put into effect by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard [FMVSS] 500 in 1998.  Simply put, NEV’s represent a …

Auto Battlefront 2011

Cruze, Focus & Elantra, The 2012 Models King Kong vs Godzilla vs Smog Monster — An epic battle is in the works for 2011 and it is definitely not some of my favorite from the classic 1950-1960’s sci-fi mega-characters. Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra are the three 2012 models that are on the …

Recent Articles:

2010 Camaro RS

New Kid On The Street

camaro-right-rear-largeDriving past the Jon Hall Chevrolet dealership in Daytona Beach today I spotted a 2010 Camaro RS out in front semi-surrounded by a crowd!  This was just too much to pass up so a prompt 180 was safely negotiated back to the dealership entrance.

From the Oshawa Ontario Plant

GM’s Canadian Oshawa, Ontario plant manufacturers the new Camaro.  This car came off of the transporter an hour ago and was promptly put out front since it was their first at the dealership.  To say that the car was a magnet for Car Guys and Gals would be very accurate. … Continue Reading

Collision Gallery Photographs

Collision Gallery

buick-wagon-side-impact-frontCheck out the Collision Gallery.  It contains interesting and educational photographs of collision vehicles and components.  Each picture tells a story related to the collision phases of: pre-crash, impact, and post impact for the driver, vehicle and environment.

buick-wagon-side-impact-rear-1Automotive Tribune has a substantial forensic photographic library.  If you have an interest in a particular type of vehicle or collision event including pedestrian, skateboard, tree, tractor trailer, sports car, SUV, motorcycle, trailer, commercial machinery, golf carts, guard rails, lift gates, tires, lights, brakes, wheels, axles, fire, maintenance, towing, vehicle recovery, aerial photographs, damage documentation, overloading, pavement drop-off, component failure or collision analysis let us know and the photos will be added to the gallery.

Automotive Clothing = A Fashion Statement

Being a well dressed Car Guy or Gal can be a challenge

dsc_0121-largeIt occurred to your Editor that there were some special items of clothing around here that our readers might enjoy taking a took at.  It’s clear that there is a lot of old stuff in my collection with the oldest of these items having survived 40 years.  Each is a heritage piece.  Each item has history and a story to tell.

One Lap Of America

… Continue Reading

Brake Job Maintenance

April 19, 2009 Maintenance No Comments
Brembo high-performance rotor and cailper

Brembo high-performance rotor and cailper were considered but not selected

Brake Work Foundation Issues

Brake work can be simple to complex, easy to impossible, and is absolutely something that must be done correctly.  Your life and the life & well being of others rides on the integrity of the repair. 

dsc_0111-largeThis article will address some of the specific issues associated with how your editor did a recent brake pad and brake rotor replacement.  If you are not skilled, proficient, and have the proper tools then leave this to a professional. 

Failure is not an option!

A recent article addressed many technical aspects of brakes and provides a good foundation for reference associated with brake maintenance.

3 Steps In The Brake Job

Doing a brake job typically involves three steps: figure out what you need, get the parts, and install the parts. 

Depending on your level of mechanical talent and available facilities, tools, and equipment you may want to install the brake parts yourself or hire a professional.  As for determining what parts to get, you may or may-not turn that over to the professional brake installer.

Subject Vehicle

dsc_0092-largeThe brake work will be on a 2001 BMW X5 with the 4.4L engine.  This is a solid and fun vehicle that gets mediocre gas mileage.  It is also fairly heavy and generates a lot of brake dust on the front wheels with the OE (Original Equipment) type of brake pad.

What Do You Want Your Brakes To Do?

Before doing the brake job two issues were identified.  First was reduction or elimination of brake dust.  Second was the fact that the front rotors were worn and would need to be replaced as part of normal maintenance.

200 miles since the tire and wheel were washed

200 miles since the tire and wheel were washed

Internet research into owner comments about how their brake linings worked hot, cold, wet, dry, noise, pedal pressure and brake dust were reviewed.  There is no shortage of owner comments about brakes and after broad and focused researching of the subject decided that Akebono Euro ceramic pads were the best selection to address my highest concerns of safety and cleanliness or more specifically wet weather braking and brake dust.

OE Brembo rotors were selected

OE Brembo rotors were selected

Brake Component Options

Brake rotors on the X5 are designed to wear away and are therefore, consumable.  OE brake rotors are by Brembo with vented rotors front and solid in the rear.  It was decided to replace both front and rears although only the front rotors were at the end of their service life.

dsc_0106-largeBMW front and rear brake pads incorporate a rather simple but elegant brake wear indicator.  The small and inexpensive sensors attach in the pad and when the pad is about worn out the sensor is ground through which turns on the Brake Light on the instrument cluster.  One sensor is for the front axle and one sensor is for the rear axle.  It is not totally foolproof to eliminate the possibility of a destroyed rotor but if the system is balanced in braking force then the driver will be notified in advance of metal-to-metal contact.

Brembo cross drilled rotors for racing and aggressive street driving

Brembo cross drilled rotors for racing and aggressive street driving

Parts Availability

After determining that this brake job would include Akebono Euro ceramic pads matched to replacement OE Brembo rotors then the decision was where to source from?  Spending a few minutes with eBay Motors and searching for BMW X5 Brakes proved to be the right decision.  About 300 listings came up and I found a vendor that could provide the specific parts needed at a competitive price.  Replacement sensors were also ordered but were not needed.

It can be a real challenge when researching available components.  However, making this selection properly will ensure that the vehicle performance is consistent with the functional requirement and budget established.

Slotted rotors for racing or aggressive street driving

Slotted rotors for racing or aggressive street driving

Replace Pads & Rotors

Cross-drilled & slotted

Cross-drilled & slotted

Changing the brake pads requires caliper removal.  Removal of the rotors is more challenging.  Rotors fit over the hub and after 70,000 miles and 7 years an acetylene torch (smoke wrench) was required to heat the rotors to expand the rotor and then application of a large hammer to break the bond between rotor and hub.  It is amazing what water and age can do to bond these components together.

Road Test

Brake pad identification

Brake pad identification

With the new brake parts installed the car drives great and brake dust is essentially eliminated.  This was a successful mechanical project. 

It is interesting to note that a great deal of time and effort were spent before actually performing the maintenance.  Good foundation work resulted in a technical outcome that was precisely as planned.  That type of outcome and work is something that you can take pride in!

Brake Pads & Friction Material

April 16, 2009 Maintenance No Comments

brake-wheel-assemblyBrakes mechanically stop your vehicle. 

When you put your foot on the brake pedal, hydraulic pressure is transmitted through the brake lines and the pressure moves the piston which mechanically pushes the pad or lining material against the brake rotor or brake drum.

Brakes turn kinetic energy into heat. 

Applying the brakes causes a speed loss in the vehicle because of friction between the brake lining and rotor or drum.  Friction generates heat and repeated stops or high speed stops generate massive amounts of heat.  Finned brake rotors move air through the rotor to cool the rotor.  Wheels are bolted to the brake rotor and through conduction the wheel also dissipates heat from the brake rotor.

disc-noise-maker_2Brake friction materials 

also typically need to exhibit long life, resist corrosion, have low noise, and be cost effective.  From a driver’s standpoint the most important aspect is that the brakes stop the vehicle predictably and without problematic brake fade.

anti-rattle-springsOrganic brake material can be defined several ways such as: containing carbon, asbestos, nonasbestos, Kevlar, ceramic, and other natural materials that have been resin bonded into a friction material. 

Asbestos Brakes

was a great friction material at an affordable price that operated quietly.  Unfortunately, asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis which can lead to COPD, lung cancer or mesothelioma.  All of these bad medical conditions represent the reason that asbestos brake linings are essentially a thing of the past with limited application into the 1993 model year.

brake-drumIn the old days, compressed shop air was used to blow off brake parts creating a huge cloud of asbestos fibers as mormal routine for the auto mechanic.  When asbestos medical problems surfaced because of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, with OSHA Regulations that ultimately changed operational procedures in the automotive brake repair department and clutch disk department and gasket department.  A lot of asbestos went into automobiles and some of that asbestos can still be found in automobiles.  In the link above, and repeated here, is an excellent NIOSH report from 1989 dealing with Asbestosis Exposure in Automotive Brake Service.  If you have ever been exposed to this hazard or you have a particular interest in this topic then you should review the article.

Brake pads today

identification-datafall into many different categories and definitions including: Original Equipment or OE, semi-metalic, Premium, Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO), Low-Metallic NAO, and NAO Ceramic.  Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE J-866a defines how friction materials should be identified when the friciton material is tested according to SAE J-886. 

When you look at the edge of the brake  lining material it will have a two letter code that corresponds to the normal friction level and one letter that represents the hot friction level.  If you are really into brake pads for ultimate performance then you will want to become very familiar with J-886a.  If you have concerns about big truck air brake systems then you will need to reference the Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Association RP-628 which relates to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 121 test procedure.

Brake Material Selection

Establish specific performance characteristics, such as low dust and reasonable price, and then research available technology and information.  Internet research will likely help to answer your questions and provide detailed assessments from individuals using that product.

Historical research comparison will help the proper decision to be made.  Police vehicles lead a very demanding performance life and therefore police vehicles have significant research documents that are available for brake component decision making.

At the High Performance Driver Training Program brake life was about one to two weeks.  This same time frame is also applied to a typical New York City taxi because these cars can stay in service around the clock.

It is critical from a safety standpoint that brakes work reliably.  However, special performance characteristics and the type of various friction materials available make for a challenging choice of replacement brake components.  Brake rotors and drums wear out and these must be measured and inspected for condition.

Decision Point

From a basic decision the answer is OE.  From an advanced decision you will have to start your search at this point.  It is a challenging objective.

Post Crash Analysis For Unrestrained Occupants

front-seat-deformationSeat belts are an important part of the safety systems in carsTo a trained investigator review of a Traffic Crash Report, site visit, and inspection of the vehicles can answer many questions about the technical nature of the impact.

In this analysis the objective is to provide a thorough identification of steps associated with arriving at impact speeds and assessment of seat belt usage for front and rear passengers.

approach-to-impactScale diagram Prepared

for Impact and Final Rest vehicle positions. Inspection of the crash site permitted final rest placement for the Mercury. Final rest position was not identified on the Crash Report and no specific evidence at the crash site permitted placement of the Honda at final rest. … Continue Reading

Random Photos From Automotive Tribune Site

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Richard Kubis Explains Solar Thermal Hybrid Automobile