Time to get a break on brak­ing sys­tems

Regina Leader-Post - - DRIVING - BRIAN TURNER Driv­ing.ca

When it comes to re­place­ment parts for our ve­hi­cles, few cat­e­gories of­fer as many choices as brak­ing sys­tems. Whether it’s reg­u­lar or ce­ramic pads (lin­ings) or plain or coated ro­tors (discs) or up­scale per­for­mance de­signs, there’s a world of se­lec­tion to bring your ride to a halt. But few of us are ever given a choice by our ser­vice providers when this crit­i­cal safety sys­tem is in need of main­te­nance and if we were of­fered some op­tions, which ones are the best?

Avoid “white box” like the plague. “white box” is an in­dus­try term that refers to in­ex­pen­sive re­place­ment parts that are usu­ally, but not al­ways, sourced from off­shore sup­pli­ers. They come in a va­ri­ety of brand names, so it can be dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine if you’re deal­ing with “white box” parts. Ba­si­cally, if they are priced at 50 per cent or less than rec­og­nized na­tional brands, you’re prob­a­bly look­ing at ‘white box’ parts.

If you’re not sure, sim­ply ask your parts or ser­vice provider.

When it comes to brake lin­ings and ro­tors/drums, un­less you’re a fan of ex­tremely noisy brakes with vi­bra­tions and lots of brake-dust wheel stain­ing, never let any shop in­stall th­ese in­fe­rior com­po­nents.

For ev­ery­day driv­ing, per­for­mance parts aren’t nec­es­sar­ily worth the ex­tra cost. For fam­ily haulers, per­sonal trucks, SUVs, and com­muter char­i­ots, driv­ers are ba­si­cally look­ing for five things when it comes to brake ser­vice: per­for­mance, si­lence, smooth­ness, clean­li­ness, and dura­bil­ity.

Ce­ramic pads tend to of­fer good per­for­mance in all five of th­ese cat­e­gories and of­ten don’t cost any more than non-ce­ramic lin­ings. If the clean­li­ness fea­ture seems strange, then you haven’t had to deal with the headache of try­ing to re­move black brake dust from your al­loy rims.

Zinc-coated brake ro­tors can go a long way to fight the rav­ages of cor­ro­sion that can drive just about any au­to­mo­tive part to an early grave. They also tend to run qui­eter than non-coated types. Stick­ing with rec­og­nized na­tional brands such as AC Delco, Raybestos, Bosch, Wag­ner, NAPA, Hal­ten, Ake­bono and such can mean a long last­ing job with­out break­ing the bank.

Stop­ping per­for­mance is only as good as the driver. Ev­ery driver wants to know that their ve­hi­cle’s brak­ing sys­tem will do the job in any sit­u­a­tion, es­pe­cially emer­gency or panic stops. And while there are great prod­ucts that can pro­vide shorter brak­ing dis­tances than their com­pe­ti­tion, a lot of that ad­van­tage is moot when you fac­tor in driver­re­sponse times.

New hard­ware is key to a great fin­ish. Many ve­hi­cles use mech­a­nisms that at­tach to brake pads to keep them mov­ing smoothly. They are of­ten re­ferred to as slippers or anti-drag clips.

Th­ese thin chrome steel clips fit be­tween the tabs on brake pads and the cor­re­spond­ing guides in their calipers. They aren’t de­signed for life­time use and good qual­ity brake pads al­ways come with new clips. It’s im­por­tant to ask your ser­vice garage if their brake ser­vices in­clude new hard­ware.


Ven­ti­lated disc brakes on a 2015 Ca­maro Z/28. If a ve­hi­cle sits for more than a few days (and even just overnight in damp weather) ex­pect a lit­tle light grind­ing noise at first from the brakes.

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