BREAKING: NHTSA Blames Random Winter Brake Failures On Salt

U.S. investigators have spent years trying to figure out why the brakes on thousands of U.S.-made trucks and SUVs were failing without warning. Brake failures were behind at least 107 crashes last year and there is data illustrating that up to two million vehicles could be affected.

Finally, after four years of study, the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it has finally solved the mystery: Salt.

According to reports, the agency has “strongly” suggested that Americans “thoroughly wash the underside of their vehicles.” Investigators found unexpected brake failure could happen to anyone driving a 2008 and earlier vehicle in a cold-weather state.

In a 2011 NHTSA probe, the agency looked at GM trucks made in 1999-2003 following numerous reports that some of the U.S.’s largest passenger vehicles seemed unusually prone to sudden brake failure. Among the suspects: the Cadillac Escalade, the Chevy Suburban and the GMC Yukon.

Photo Courtesy of  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Photo Courtesy of THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Investigators responded by sending out surveys, pored over safety records, and inspected 71 randomly selected vehicles — but nothing found warranted a recall/

However. the probe did find that sudden brake line ruptures were not limited to a couple of million GM cars. Instead, they could be a danger to anyone behind the wheel of an older model truck or SUV in one the U.S.’s “salt states.”

“Salt and other chemicals can accumulate on road surfaces, can accumulate on your vehicle’s underbody, and could put you and your passengers in danger,” says a safety video issued Thursday by NHTSA.

The ‘incubation period’ identified by the report was only eight years. By that point, cars driven in “harsh conditions” would have built up enough corrosion to produce extremely dangerous and life-threating structural problems.

If you live in one of the “salt states” and own a vehicle that falls within the period, you could seriously be at risk. The best action to take at the moment would be to follow the Agency’s directions and thoroughly wash the underside of your vehicle. This should be done semiannually to prevent the spread of corrosion.

We will be updating this story as soon as we’ve received more information.

Special Thanks to the National Post and NHTSA



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

RANT: Meets or Exceeds OE Specification BS

I was looking at brake pads online for a car and was bombarded with the phrases like “meets or exceeds OE specification” and “OE Formulation.” It really started to bug me because a lot of it is pure bull shit.
The first question you should be asking yourself is: Where are these OE specifications? Is this a document that includes the dimensions as well as the materials used? The fact of the matter is that there are no documents like this shared with aftermarket brake pad manufacturers. Even if their was, would they share it?
OE brake pad specifications are proprietary to the OEM and the supplier of the original pads. You can’t find it on the OE’s website and it is not filed with NHTSA. Sure there is the Friction Material Standards Institute (FMSI) that catalogs brake pad application information like dimensions, hardware, application and maybe what type of formulation was originally used (not the entire recipe).
It is OK to say “Designed to OE specification” or “Engineered to meet…”, but the pad manufacturer should be able to produce in-house or independent testing information where they compare their pads to the OE pads with either on-vehicle or dynamometer testing.
Some aftermarket suppliers can make the claim that they can meet or exceed OE specifications because they were the OE supplier on a platform for the pads.
Some aftermarket pads are better than the OE pads. The reason is two fold. First, as vehicles age, they accumulate more miles, more miles mean that the manufacturer has a better idea what the brake pad application needs to deliver better performance over the OE application. Second, some aftermarket friction materials will use better materials than the OEM due to less restrictive pricing.
The one thing you will never see on some boxes is “will stop your vehicle sooner” or “reduces stopping distances.” If someone actually made this claim, I might buy their pad.

Brake Safety Week: Violations In North America Increase In 2014

News coming out of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Brake Safety Week indicates the trucking industry has some work to do.

This year, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance(CVSA)-certified commercial motor vehicle safety inspectors inspected 13,305 vehicles (compared with 20,067 in 2013) and placed 2,162 commercial vehicles out of service for brake violations.

Of the vehicles inspected, the OOS (out of service) rate for all brake-related violations conducted in North America was 16.2 percent, compared with 13.5 percent for the 2013 event.

However, historically speaking, out-of-service rates for Canadian jurisdictions are lower than those in U.S. jurisdictions.

This can be seen again this year with the OOS rates for brake adjustment violations (10.8 percent in the U.S. versus 4.6 percent in Canada; 10.4 percent combined), brake component violations (9.5 percent in the U.S. versus 6.8 percent in Canada; 9.3 percent combined), and total brake violations (16.6 percent in the U.S. versus 11.0 percent in Canada; 16.2 percent combined).

During the week-long campaign held Sept. 7-13, 2014, local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico conducted roadside inspections to identify out-of-adjustment brakes and brake-system violations.

Improperly installed or poorly maintained brake systems can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of trucks and buses, which poses a serious risk to driver and public safety, CVSA officials said.

According to sources, roadside inspections conducted during Brake Safety Week included the inspection of brake-system components to identify loose or missing parts, air or hydraulic fluid leaks, worn linings, pads, drums or rotors, and other faulty brake-system components. Antilock braking systems (ABS) malfunction indicator lamps also were checked. Inspectors inspected brake components and measured pushrod stroke when appropriate.

Here are the 2014 Brake Safety Week results compared with 2012 and 2011:

• 1,388 or 10.4 percent of vehicles were placed OOS for brake adjustment (9.0 in 2013, 9.4 percent in 2012, 8.4 percent in 2011)

• 1,244 or 9.3 percent of vehicles were placed OOS for brake components (7.1 percent in 2013, 7.8 percent in 2012, 7.9 percent in 2011)

• 1,658 or 16.2 percent of vehicles were placed OOS for brakes overall (13.5 percent in 2013, 15.3 percent in 2012, 14.2 percent in 2011)

Worst of Reddit: Bad Brakes

Every once and a while we compile a quick gallery of pictures of the very worst brakes Reddit has to offer. These pictures are taken by shop owners or mechanics, and then anonymously uploaded onto Reddit’s secure server to share with the world. This week, we have some seriously funny photos.


This customer wanted a quick fix so he could get to work on time..

Photo by /u/hanzG

Photo by /u/hanzG








This next customer complained about a hard time steering

Photo by /u/att2455

Photo by /u/att2455










This customer said she heard a weird sound being emitted from the base of her car

Photo by /u/apalms93

Photo by /u/apalms93










This customer waited too long to get their brakes checked..

Photo by /u/longwestwood







Finally, in our last picture we have a customer who knew he needed his brakes checked, waited to long, and decided to post a picture of his stupidity on the internet.

Photo by /u/Fixsh*t

Photo by /u/Fixsh*t










We hope you enjoyed our montage of bad brakes and learned the same valuable lesson these poor customers did when realizing it was way too late to get their brakes fixed. It is imperative to properly maintain you brakes and get them checked at least every 6 months to a year. You don’t want your brakes to end up on this website, so its up to you do your part and take care of your car!

Brake By Wire: Everything You Need To Know

Webster’s Dictionary defines brake-by-wire technology in automotive industry as the ability to control brakes through electrical means. It can be designed to supplement ordinary service brakes or it can be a standalone brake system.

This system was first popularized in F1 racing, due to its seamless manipulation and ability to be controlled from outside the vehicle. These systems are now incorporated with big names in the automotive industry like Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, Toro Rosso and Sauber.

One of the main consequences of this new electronic system has been a transfer of a significant proportion of the braking force to the front axle (80%) and 20% on the rear. This has caused many teams to use discs with a smaller diameter at the rear, in some cases with four pistons caliper instead of six, resulting in a clear advantage in terms of weight and speed of response.

The calipers are developed by Brembo specifically for each team, with the goal being to have systems as light as possible, but without losing rigidity.

A word that has been heard this year when cars have encountered brake issues is vitrification, which in simple words means that the disc’s surface becomes literally like glass (“glazed”) which means the calipers cannot get a grip. This phenomenon cannot happen with the Brembo system due to a wider range of utilization compared to other systems where the problem may appear with low temperatures – when the braking process begins the optimal minimum temperature should be around 300-400 degrees.

Each team has its own requirements, so the design engineers works closely with the car designers in order to develop a tailor made solution. Only the pads are the same for everybody. Throughout the season Brembo’s track engineers start working with the teams already on the Thursday of a Grand Prix with one-to-one meetings aimed at reviewing the braking needs specific to each track.

Braking systems are expensive and therefore we can see significant differences in the way teams manage them. Normally a top team uses one set (composed of 4 discs and 8 pads) for the free practice sessions and one set for qualifying and the race; a smaller team will use a new set for qualifying and the race, then again for the practice sessions of the subsequent race.

Each system is being routinely revised every two thousand kilometres, unless used in high temperature conditions.