NHTSA Safety Advisory For Brake Lines: NHTSA Sells Out To Car Washes

rustWell, there will be no recalls on GM vehicles for brake line corrosion. But we do get this nifty advisory form NHTSA. I have some problems with the advice given. First, When the brines are dry they do the least amount of damage. When they are activated by water the oxidation process kicks into high gear. So, if you were to do an undercarriage wash at a car wash (15-20 seconds at the most) it could be activating the brines and salts. Also, most car wash undercarriage washes do not remove all of the corrosive compounds, especially on top of the fuel tank where a lot of ruptures were occurring.

NHTSA Safety Advisory: Preventing Brake Pipe Failure Due to Corrosion in Older Vehicles

ISSUE: Model year 2007 and earlier vehicles may be susceptible to brake pipe corrosion that can occur after seven to eight years of exposure to winter road salts. If brake pipe corrosion is not properly addressed, there is the potential of brake pipe failure which could result in a crash.

Consumer Actions to Protect Against Brake Pipe Corrosion in Older Vehicles

  1. Remove road salt that leads to corrosion:
    • Thoroughly clean your vehicle, including the undercarriage, at the end of the winter
    • Regularly wash the undercarriage throughout the winter.
  2. Monitor your brake system, including brake pipes, and other undercarriage components for corrosion or signs of brake failure:
    • If you own an older vehicle in a cold-weather state, have a qualified mechanic or inspection station inspect the vehicle at least twice a year. If there are any signs of corrosion, inspect the brakes more frequently, at least every time you bring your vehicle in for service.
    • Keep an eye on brake fluid level. Watch for changes in how your brake pedal feels and for signs of fluid leakage beneath the vehicle. All of these could indicate a leak in your brake pipes.
  3. If you find severe corrosion that causes scaling or flaking of brake components (see the photos below), replace the entire brake pipe assembly:
    • Do not replace just a portion of the assembly. Failure in one portion of the brake pipes generally means other sections of pipe are at risk of failure.
    • Check with your manufacturer to see if they have pre-fabricated brake pipe kits to make replacement easier and potentially less expensive.


NHTSA recently conducted an investigation of brake pipe failures due to corrosion in a large population of 1999 through 2003 model year full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles and found that the failures result from end-of-life wear-out. Data show that this corrosion problem is linked to brake line coating materials that several manufacturers used during this time period. Vehicles driven in the following salt states are more prone to corrosion-related issues: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

Amazon Getting into the Brake Business

amazon damaged boxAmazon has announced the launch of Amazon Home Services, a new marketplace for on-demand professional services including brake repair. Customers can now browse, purchase parts and schedule brake repair on Amazon.com. Just think of it as a higher class Craig’s List where you can also buy the parts.

Amazon claims Home Services features handpicked pros offering upfront pricing on pre-packaged services with helpful reviews from customers and are using Yelp and Angie’s list as references. Amazon’s Happiness Guarantee backs all service purchases, so customers know the job will get done right. But, Amazon has not announced if the technicians have to be ASE certified.

Amazon Home Services is now available across the country in major U.S. metropolitan areas including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Amazon claims it curates an invite-only marketplace for professional service providers. Invited pros are background checked, required to maintain insurance, and expected to maintain a high performance standard.

Service pros compete for a customer’s business based on price, quality and availability. If customers find a lower price for the same service and pro, we will match it. This may work for curtains but not cars.

I don’t know if this is Amazon’s April Fools pranks, but it has the potential to put drivers at risk.


RANT: DIY Painted Brake Calipers + Do’s and Don’ts or Painting Calipers

Nothing says “low class” more than painted brake calipers on a cheap car. It is unclear when this trend started, but I am sure that it starter when wheels started to cross the 17″ mark. Historically, brake calipers were black, silver or a gold Cadmium plating. The color of the brake caliper was dictated by the material.

Up until the early 1990s, all high performance vehicles from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche sported black or silver brake calipers. Some say it was the Ferrari 355 that started the trend with red powder coated Brembo calipers. After that, even the 1995 Pontiac Grand Am GT came with red brake calipers. Today, most people know if they see a Porsche with yellow brake calipers, they dished out $7,000 or more for the carbon ceramic brake package.


A little over kill…


I’m Loving It! Not really, this is more distracting than a happy meal to a three year old.

DIY caliper painting took off in the 1990s when somebody decided to try high-temperature engine paint on their calipers. When the paint companies saw this they encouraged the trend by making caliper specific paint.

Here are a few tips if you are planning to paint your calipers

DO paint the caliper if it is a is a performance caliper with opposing pistons.

DON’T paint the caliper a bright color if it is single piston caliper mounted on a tiny rotor. Go with black, it will make your wheels look better. A brightly colored caliper can be a visual distraction and make the wheels look cheap.

DO remove the caliper from the vehicle or at least remove on caliper guide pin bolt and swing it up or down. Remove the hardware and pads so they are not covered in paint.


Nice job with the rattle clip!

DON’T paint the entire caliper on the car. Paint on some surfaces can cause the caliper to seize. Avoid any surfaces that come in contact with the pad.

DO replace the hardware after painting the caliper. Shiny abutment clips, shims and anti-rattle clips will add some extra bling.

DON’T paint the areas of the rotor/disc that make contact with the pads. Paint contains components that can contaminate the brake pad and change the friction levels. This contamination can stick around long after the rotors looks like it is nice and shiny.

DO  use the right products. Brake calipers can get hotter than the engine, so the right paint is critical. Some two-part epoxy paints the are applied with a brush work great and lasts a long time.

BAD BRAKES: Guess Why These Pads Failed Too Soon


This was posted on YouTube yesterday. It shows a soaked set of brake pads next to one rotor that looks normal and the other has a bronze color. The pads on the normal looking rotor look to be in decent shape. The other side with the discolored rotor has uneven wear. From the makings on the pads, it looks like the outer pad took most of the abuse while the inner pad has some tapered wear.

So what happened?

My best guess is that the caliper slides or guide pins or the pad seized in the bracket. This prevented the caliper from applying equal force on the pads. Eventually, the piston seal began to leak brake fluid.

Your guess? Leave it in the comments below.

Brake Cable Manufacturer Takes on Inferior Brake Cables

Bruin Brake Cables

What does it take to sell a quality American made automotive part from an American auto parts store? That’s a good question and one that is troubling Rick Gelscheit, the owner of Bruin Brake Cables, the last U.S. manufacturer of aftermarket emergency brake cables. It seems that it’s much easier selling to auto parts chains if the return address is overseas or south of the border.

“We sell emergency brake cables that pass a 1,200-foot-pound pressure test virtually every time,” he said. “We give the exact same test to foreign cables and they fail almost nine out of 10 of the time. Yet, if you go to an auto parts store for an emergency brake cable, your only choice is the inferior foreign cable.”

Not long ago, one of the monolithic automotive parts distributors, selling mostly foreign made automotive parts, including emergency brake cables, tried to hire Gelscheit to package foreign cables. Of course, he’d have to sell off all his equipment for making his emergency brake cables. Gelscheit felt like Jimmy Stewart talking to Old Man Potter, the latter with clearly nefarious motives.

When he refused the deal, he was threatened.

“I was told, if I don’t go along, they’ll sell their cables at a loss for as long as it takes to put me out of business,”

Read the Rest of the Story at Bruin Brake Cables