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Why do I get all that brake dust on my European car and why are the brakes squeaking?

Whether you just had a brake job or not, here is the noise about brake squeaking:

 
Today’s complex European-engineered vehicles all make use of advanced braking and have one thing in common—they all stop great when the brakes are operating properly. Whether you drive a Mercedes Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, Mini, Jaguar or Land Rover, the condition of your vehicle’s brakes is critical. Unlike most domestic and other brands, the performance brake system in your Mercedes Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, Mini, Jaguar or Land Rover utilizes extremely soft compounds to enhance brake stopping power. It is this softer compound that allows the brake pads to grab and actually stick to the brake rotors, increasing stopping power. On the positive, this increases the gripping power of the brake pads to the rotors. On the down side, you have an increased amount of brake dust as a by-product.
 
A brake pad design not specific to the OEM specification may not only provide poor stopping power, but may lead to brake squeal and excessive noise. Brake noise is common and can be caused by a number of driver conditions and wear factors including excessively worn brake pads or brake rotors, glazed brake pads or rotors, broken or damaged anti-rattle clips or a lower quality pad that does not incorporate a backing shim.
 

Worn brake pads:

The brake pad (set) is the friction material that makes contact with the brake rotor to stop the vehicle. The brake rotor spins with the wheel while the brake pad remains fixed to the chassis of the vehicle. Hence when you hit the brakes on your Mercedes Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, Mini,

Brake Pad

Jaguar or Land Rover, the pads are pressed against the brake rotor and the friction is what slows and stops the vehicle. By design, the brake pad and rotor wear together. Most of these pads incorporate sensors to advise the driver when the pad material is too thin to be effective and must be replaced. Again, it is this friction and the wear of the pad material and rotor that causes the brake dust that you see on your wheels. As the pad and rotor wears, imperfections in the mating surface are created by allowing air to “whistle” or “squeal” when applying the brakes.
 

Glazed brake pads and rotors:

Brakes are designed to be used and as such designed so that when applied the griping or friction surface of the pad and the mating surface of the brake rotor wear together and evenly. When brakes “drag” either by a driver resting a foot on the brake pedal or a brake caliper sticking allowing the brake pad to remain in slight contact with the brake rotor, this creates excessive friction and heat. This excessive heat causes a glaze to occur on the surface of the brake rotor and brake pad. This glaze comes from the hardening of the friction material which actually crystallizes. This crystallization process is what causes the “squeal.” This condition may often be rectified by several firm applications of the brakes. Alternatively, the pads and rotors may be sanded to break the glaze surface.
 

Broken anti-rattle clips:

Anti-rattle clips are designed to hold the brake pads firmly within the brake caliper. A broken clip will allow the brake pad to “chatter” allowing air to pass through, making the familiar squeaking noise. The only remedy in this case is to have the clips replaced on your Mercedes Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, Mini, Jaguar or Land Rover.
 

Brake Pad insulation or shims:

As previously discussed, your Mercedes Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, Mini, Jaguar or Land Rover quality brake pads incorporate an insulating shim on the back side of the brake pads. These shims prevent brake squeal. Lower quality brake pads do not come with these shims and new shims must be installed. Furthermore, these shims do wear and must be replaced when they become worn.
 

Turning brake rotors:

The brake rotors on your Mercedes Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, Mini, Jaguar or Land Rover cannot be turned. The process of turning a rotor is to place it on a brake lathe and cut the friction surfaces. This process makes the brake surface thinner. The brake rotors on your European vehicle come from the factory at a minimum thickness and can not be safely turned.
 

Brake Rotar

 
Proper maintenance and repair is needed whether you drive a Mercedes Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, Mini, Jaguar, Land Rover or other European vehicle and service experts at DreamCars Auto Repair are equipped to handle your needs. If you have any questions, simply contact us any time by phone or email or visit us in person and we will be happy to assist you!

Do You Remember When?

It doesn’t seem like that long ago, where a few of us guys could get together during any given evening or weekend and have a great time while we fixed one of our cars.  It was an honest, good time as well as a productive, money-saving thing to do with friends and of course with the help of the local parts store.

 

These days, we still own cars, but unless some friend has a garage equipped with thousands of dollars in electronic testing equipment and software programs most likely you won’t be able to repair your own car!  How about that time, when you went to replace something seemingly simple, like your thermostat, and you are faced with a big piece of plastic covering almost the whole engine compartment and find that the engine looks totally different than anything you can relate to!  Does this sound familiar?

 

Cars started changing drastically at the end of the 1970s.  Fuel injection systems were introduced in the automotive market and electronic sensor controls became a very important part of this new system.  In 1990, the last car sold in the United States with a carburetor was a Subaru.  The criteria and motivation in car manufacturing is to find a better, more powerful, less pollutant and more fuel efficient vehicle.  As consumers are we getting that?  Sure we are, in today’s technology whatever mixture gets inside your combustion chamber will get burned 100%.  In comparison, the air and fuel mixture existing in car of the past with carburetors, didn’t get completely burned and therefore created a waste of energy and produced pollution.

 

Here is a quick overview of how things work these days.  It all starts with the “ECU” otherwise known as the engine control unit.  This controls your whole, entire engine.  The ECU receives information from different sensors.  The ECU compares the data received from the various sensors, with its internal memory and gives out information to the fuel and ignition system.  What happens when one of those sensors goes bad?  In that case, the main brain or ECU gets the wrong information, the engine starts running badly and you will need a computer or scanner-decoder in order to communicate with the ECU and find the exact nature of the problem.  Some sensors may already be familiar with are the oxygen sensor, mass airflow sensor and throttle positioning sensor.  In our next column, we will get a little deeper into all of the sensors and what they do.  In conclusion, don’t feel crazy, you are not alone.  Cars just ain’t the same!

 

 

DREAMCARS TIP OF THE MONTH:

Electronics in your car are very sensitive.  Here are some things that may help.  These can be done by yourself or by your trusted auto technician:

 

1)      Keep your battery terminals and contacts clean.

 

2)      Check your battery output power periodically.

 

3)      Clean all of your electrical grounds and keep them tight.