BRAKE HARDWARE: What percentage of the time is it included with the pads?

Brake Hardware Survey

Brake Hardware Survey

Brake & Front End and Import Car magazines asked readers what percentage of the time is hardware included with the brake pads. Looking at the numbers, it is a 50/50 chance that the pads you order will have hardware.

So how do you increase your chances of having hardware in the box? Andrew Markel, editor of Brake & Front End gave this advice, “Buy better pads, higher-quality pads will typically have better hardware kits that are more complete. Also the materials are better and offer better corrosion resistance and noise dampening properties.”


FAQ: Why are Brake Defects Recalled So Quickly by NHTSA?

Dramatic news graphic to scare consumers.

Dramatic news graphic used to scare consumers.

The recent brake recall for GM parking brakes has some people asking the question:

Why do brake defects get recalled before defects with engines, transmissions and electrical systems? 

The short answer is that brake defect is the most dangerous problem of all. NHTSA does care if your car stalls, burns oil or the manufacturers is not abiding by the warranty. But, NHTSA will fast track any investigation if the defect poses immanent and potential death to vehicle occupants.

Take the recent GM recall for the parking brake problem for example, there has been zero fatalities and no major crashes according to NHTSA’s ODI database. According to both GM and NHTSA only 100 cars are estimated to have the defect. Here is an example of a complaint from April 2014.



The complaint above has all the hallmarks of a great recall and civil/criminal lawsuits. This probably got an investigator at NHTSA asking GM questions. GM ask its dealers and engineers to look out for the problem.

“On April 17, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened Preliminary Evaluation PE14-010 to “investigate allegations of inappropriate autonomous braking while driving” in model year (MY) 2014 Chevrolet Impala vehicles.”

In just six months and only three reported fires and maybe six crashes, GM and the government solved the problem and a recall was issued. When you consider that this action involves a US government agency and one of the largest corporations in the world, this is a very impressive program.

To answer the original question about  why brake defects get all the recalls, it is all about safety. No OEM or government agency want to be seen dragging their feet if people’s lives are at stake.





Guess the Brake Pedal


Can you name the the vehicle that belongs to this brake pedal? OK, it is more of a button…

Here are some hints…

• The first year was 1955.

• The car did not have a vacuum brake booster.


• This was behind the pedal:



Please leave your guesses in the comments! Thanks!

HINT 1: French

HINT 2: Some upscale version of the car did not need a jack to change the rear tire.


Brake Pads vs. Deer Whistle: What is more effective at preventing deer crashes?


More than 1.2 million collisions will happen this year as deer mate and forage before the tough winter months. According to State Farm’s latest analysis, an American motorist currently has a 1 in 174 chance of hitting a deer during the next 12-month period.

DeerWhistleSo how do you avoid becoming a statistic? Most deer are active between 5am to 8am and 5pm to midnight. So not driving is not an option. Deer whistles have been for sale for decades. They are cheap and can be install anywhere. But the effectiveness of these whistles has never been proven.

The most effective method is to make sure your car can avoid a deer. First, slow down. If you see one deer, there are bound to be more. Second, make sure your car is in the best possible condition to be able to stop or maneuver around the deer. This includes maintaining the shocks/struts, lights and most importantly the brakes.

deer_volvo_brakesIf a vehicle has worn brakes or brake pad wear issues, it can’t stop in the required distance during an emergency stop. Having an extra 10-20 feet of stopping distance when Bambi decides to cross the road can be determining factor between life and death.


Deer whistle (Average Price $5-7)


• Cheap and easy to install.


• According to most scientific studies they are not effective at scaring away deer or other animals.

Brake Pads ($60-90 for high-quality pads)


• Effective all year.

• Can prevent crashes with other animals, cars and pedestrians.

• Works with ABS and stability control systems


• Needs to be installed by a professional.

The hands down winner is Brake Pads! You can spend $5 on a deer whistle, and hope that you do not become a statistic. Or, you can get your brake serviced and use high-quality pads and be able to deal with a deer!

3 Brake Modifications You Should Never Perform

WR2a8SuNothing is worse than having to stare at a rust rotor or brake caliper through the spokes of your wheels.





original3. Painting the Entire Brake Rotor and Caliper: Do you want to turn that ugly rusting brake rotor into a work of art? Don’t like masking off the pads and the face of the rotor? Just blast those brakes with with spray paint and let the brake pads do all the work.

Why is this bad? Simple, the paint can contaminate the friction surface of the brake pads. The pigments in paint can cause the friction levels or µ (mew) of the pads to change dramatically. This contamination can last a lot longer than after the paint has bee scrapped from the rotor. This could cause some very long stops.

Rotor_BigCrack2. Rotors Drilled and Slotted Improperly: A hole in a rotor is more than a hole. If the edges of the hole are not chamfered with the correct radius, it can cause stress areas as the rotor heats and cools. This can lead to cracking and catastrophic failure. Also, the placement of the holes matters. So put the drill press away.

TN_NB front corner


1. Caliper Covers: How do you change a single-piston caliper into a six-piston caliper? You could buy a real performance brake kit from Brembo, Stop Tech, or you could buy knock-off brake caliper covers! These brake caliper covers are made of a resin plastic and painted red. They are glued to the caliper with adhesives or clips. To top it off, some have a counterfeit logos. Some covers even have fake bleeder screws. They can fit any caliper because nothing says performance like a six-piston caliper on a 10-inch rotor. If installed improperly, they can prevent the caliper from centering over the rotor.

Don’t do it!

BRAKE TECH: Why Do Some Brake Pads Stink or Smell?

seinfeld-carI was recently ask by a relative at a family function why their brakes smelled horrible after the pads were replaced. Most drivers may not know much about their vehicles, but they know when something does not smell right.

The customers who typically come back to the shop are not too happy. For shops it is a difficult phenomenon to explain. Also, the smell is typically gone by the time they get back to you, if they comeback at all. You know that there is nothing wrong with the vehicle mechanically, but you still have to set the customer’s concern to rest.

The source of the smell is typically the brake pads. Explaining what’s happening is very difficult because you are treading on very complicated chemistry that is further politicized by the friction material manufacturers. The term and concept that you want to avoid at all costs using is “burning off.” This is inaccurate and may cause the customer to become alarmed. Yes, there is heat involved when the bad smell is produced, but it is not oxidation or burning.

What is really happening is polymerization, or curing. This is a chemical process where smaller units are combined into larger and more stable units. It is like making an omelet. When heat is applied to the eggs, the omelet is formed. But, in the case of the friction material, the yoke and whites are the resins that hold the pad together.

The heat of braking causes the resins to polymerize and form stronger bonds. This is a good thing. The bad thing about this is when the resins polymerize, they create by-products in the form of gases that do not smell pleasant.

The bottom line is that the smell is not a bad thing in the majority of cases for new pads. What is important is that the pad must be heated in a controlled manner.

If the pad is heated too quickly or outside a certain heat range, the friction material could lose strength. The gases given off can cause brake fade, but if the pad is broken-in correctly, the gases do not pose a problem and brake fade conditions can be minimized in the future.

This is the most difficult part of the story because I could be stepping on engineering and marketing people’s toes at the same time.

Just about every brake pad manufacturer has a specific break-in procedure. The break-in procedure beds the pads to the rotor and induces heat that starts polymerization on some pads.

Break-in procedures can vary from 10 to 20 stops from 30 mph to moderate driving with no heavy braking for the first 500 miles. How can anyone explain the discrepancy?

First of all, all brake pads are different in their formulation and manufacturing methods. One manufacturer may use a molding technique that may use less resin and more heat in the molding process. Or, one manufacture may use a special resin that may work great, but has a distinct smell when it is being polymerized. It is tough to make the generalizations or judge a pad on its recommended break-in procedure.

Just understand that if a manufacturer recommends a break-in procedure, follow it to the letter. Do not just pump the pedal a few times and back it out of the bay and hope that the customer has a sinus problem. Even if the pad specifies a 500-mile moderate braking procedure, take the car for a test drive.