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Study Unit

Automotive Braking Systems

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Preview

Of all of the systems on a modern vehicle, the braking system is one of the most important. This system is responsible for taking a very heavy vehicle that’s traveling at a high rate of speed to a complete stop in a very short distance. The lives of the occupants are dependent upon the precise operation of this system. Your task, as an automotive technician, is to make sure this system is working properly now and to ensure that it will continue to work properly in the future. This task can be done by thoroughly understanding the operation of the braking systems and by properly performing all brake system maintenance.

This study unit will show you the major components of most braking systems and the proper techniques to use to service these systems. Remember that no text can be a complete substitute for the vehicle manufacturer’s service manual. Whenever performing brake system maintenance, you must consult these manuals for specific information, such as fluid types, required tools, torque ratings, and special procedures.

When you complete this study unit, you’ll be able to

Identify the tools used for brake system repair

Explain how to safely work on a vehicle’s brake system

Describe how friction is used to slow or stop a vehicle

Describe how the hydraulic system functions and how power boosters operate

Explain the construction and repair of master cylinders

Identify the components of a drum brake system and a disc brake system and explain how these systems operate and are repaired

Discuss the various types of brake lines and valves that are used in automotive and light truck braking systems

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Contents

AUTOMOTIVE BRAKE SYSTEM TOOLS AND SAFETY .

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Tools

Safety

FRICTION AND HYDRAULIC PRINCIPLES IN BRAKING SYSTEMS

 

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Types of Friction Basic Friction Ratings Friction Causes Heat Hydraulic Principles of Braking Systems Brake Fluid Types Rating Systems for Brake Fluids

 

MASTER CYLINDERS AND POWER BOOSTERS .

 

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Master Cylinder Design Troubleshooting Master Cylinder Problems Rebuilding Master Cylinders Power Boosters Power Booster Check Valve Other Power Booster Systems Testing and Repairing Power Booster Systems Replacing a Power Booster

 

DISC BRAKE SYSTEMS

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Rotors Advantages of Rotors Over Drums Calipers The Friction Material Rear Disc Brake Systems Inspecting Disc Brake Systems Servicing Disc Brake Systems Completing the Brake Repair Job

 

DRUM BRAKE SYSTEMS

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Drum Brake Maintenance Replacing Brake Shoes

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Contents

BRAKE SYSTEM VALVE AND BRAKE LINES .

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Residual Pressure Valves Metering Valves Proportioning Valves Combination Valves Pressure Differential Switches Troubleshooting Valve Problems Brake Lines Brake Hose Bleeding the Brakes

 

SELF-CHECK ANSWERS .

 

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EXAMINATION .

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1

Automotive Braking Systems

AUTOMOTIVE BRAKE SYSTEM TOOLS AND SAFETY

Tools

As with any other area of vehicle repair, working on brake systems re- quires the use of many different types of tools. Some of these tools are the standard screwdrivers, pliers, hammers, wrenches, and other such tools with which you’re already familiar. Other tools, however, are often used exclusively for vehicle brake system repair and are of little, if any, use on other systems of a vehicle. It’s these tools that we’ll discuss here.

Wrenches

There are many types of wrenches that a mechanic uses every day. The most common wrenches are the open-end, box-end, and combination wrenches. You’ll use these wrenches to remove or install the master cylinder or power booster bolts, wheel cylinder or caliper mounting bolts, and control valve mounting bolts. These wrenches, along with

6- and 12-point sockets and ratchets, make up the most common hand

tools used by mechanics.

A different type of wrench is needed for the various tubing fittings

used to transfer brake fluid throughout the system. These wrenches are called line, tubing, or flare-end wrenches. To avoid confusion as we progress through this study unit, we’ll call them flare-end wrenches. Typical flare-end wrenches are shown in Figure 1.

When using these wrenches, you simply place the open section of the wrench over the line or tubing and then lower the wrench onto the fit- ting nut that’s holding the line or tubing to the brake system compo- nent. You can tighten or loosen the retaining nut without damaging the relatively soft edges on the nut. Standard open-end wrenches only grab the nut at two places, often causing the edges of the nut to round out. Once the edges have rounded out, the fitting is ruined. You must replace the brake line or cut the line and apply a new flare.

There are two different types of flare-end wrenches shown in Figure 1. One wrench has flare ends at both ends of the wrench. These flare ends are different sizes, 5 8 and 11 16 inch. The other type is a combination flare end and open-end wrench.

are different sizes, 5 8 and 1 1 1 6 inch. The other type is a
are different sizes, 5 8 and 1 1 1 6 inch. The other type is a

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Automotive Braking Systems

2 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 1—Shown here are two different types of flare-end wrenches. This type

FIGURE 1—Shown here are two different types of flare-end wrenches. This type of wrench must be used when you’re installing or removing brake line fittings.

Another type of wrench you’ll often use is a brake bleeder wrench, which is shown in Figure 2. This wrench is a box-end wrench that fits the bleeder screws located on the wheel cylinders and calipers. This wrench is used to open the screws so that brake fluid can be pumped or pulled through the system to flush the system or to remove trapped air. There are two different-size box ends on this wrench.

air. There are two different-size box ends on this wrench. FIGURE 2—This is one type of

FIGURE 2—This is one type of bleeder wrench used to loosen and tighten the bleeder screws on calipers and wheel cylinders.

Automotive Braking Systems

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In many cases, you’ll be using a socket or an Allen wrench to remove

the bolt that holds the caliper to the spindle of the vehicle. However, you may also need to use special Torx sockets to remove this bolt. These sockets are shown in Figure 3. They’re mounted on a standard 3 8 drive socket wrench or ratchet. Don’t use an Allen wrench to re- move or install this type of retainer. You can easily round out the in- side surfaces, causing the retainer to be destroyed. An Allen wrench may feel like it fits perfectly but will reach a point where it slips free and causes damage.

will reach a point where it slips free and causes damage. FIGURE 3—Torx-type bolt heads are
will reach a point where it slips free and causes damage. FIGURE 3—Torx-type bolt heads are

FIGURE 3—Torx-type bolt heads are often used by manufacturers to hold the caliper on the vehicle.

Measuring Tools

In order to properly sense if brake components are too worn to con-

tinue in service, you’ll need to measure the components. Various types

of measuring tools are used in brake service. Many of these tools are

also used in other forms of automotive service, such as during an in- spection or in the rebuilding of components.

One such tool is the steel rule. A steel rule is often used to measure pad

or brake material thickness. A depth micrometer may also be used for

the same type of measurement and will give a more accurate reading.

A standard micrometer, such as the one shown in Figure 4, is often

used to check the thickness of the rotors. Disc brake rotors have wear

tolerances, normally given as a minimum rotor thickness. A microme- ter can give you a very accurate measurement of rotor thickness.

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Automotive Braking Systems

4 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 4—A micrometer is often used for measuring the overall thickness of

FIGURE 4—A micrometer is often used for measuring the overall thickness of a brake rotor.

In some cases, especially where the vehicle owner is complaining of pulsing brakes, you’ll need to measure the runout, or the amount the rotor surface varies from its normal plane of motion. A dial indicator, such as the one shown in Figure 5, can be used for this purpose. The dial indicator is solidly mounted to a bar or other attachment, and its tip is set gently on the rotor’s braking surface. The rotor is turned through one or more complete revolutions. The amount of change in the dial reading indicates the runout of the rotor. If the amount ex- ceeds a specified value, the rotor must be changed. Often this value is as small as 0.002 inch. Most dial indicators are capable of accurately measuring to 0.001 inch.

Another measuring tool that’s often used is a large inside micrometer. This tool can be used to check the inside of a drum to see if it’s warped or if it exceeds its wear limit.

There are a wide variety of special tools used to perform various brake repair tasks. As we progress through repair procedures, we’ll look more closely at these special tools.

Other Brake System Tools

Another useful hand tool is the brake adjusting bar, or spoon, such as the one shown in Figure 6. This bar or spoon is used to loosen or tighten the adjusting star wheel on the rear brakes of many types of older ve- hicles. Avoid substituting a large screwdriver for this purpose; the bar has bends at each end that make it easier to access the star wheel inside the brake drum.

Automotive Braking Systems

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FIGURE 6—This tool is a brake spoon. It’s primar- ily used to adjust back drum brakes.

FIGURE 5—A dial indicator is often used to check the runout of a rotor in a disc brake system.

adjust back drum brakes. FIGURE 5—A dial indicator is often used to check the runout of
adjust back drum brakes. FIGURE 5—A dial indicator is often used to check the runout of

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Automotive Braking Systems

It’s often difficult to remove the brake rotor or drum from a vehicle. A dead-blow hammer, such as the one shown in Figure 7, can be used to remove stuck brake drums or rotors. The dead-blow hammer contains

lead shot that adds a second striking force to your blow with the hammer.

In addition, the nonmarking surface won’t damage the surface of the

drum or rotor. Dead-blow hammers come in various weights from those rated in ounces to those that weigh several pounds. The one shown in this illustration is 28 ounces and is good for light-duty work. A larger dead- blow hammer is needed for stubborn brake drums and heavy-duty tasks.

is needed for stubborn brake drums and heavy-duty tasks. FIGURE 7—A dead-blow hammer is very useful

FIGURE 7—A dead-blow hammer is very useful for removing stuck brake drums.

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special tool for removing and installing drum brake springs is shown

in

Figure 8. The end of the tool with the small round barrel is placed

over the center post that holds the brake shoe return springs and then rotated to lift the springs off the post. The opposite end of the tool is used to apply the springs after the brake shoes have been replaced.

This tool allows you to easily remove and install drum brake tension springs without using vise grips, diagonal pliers, or other such tools that can nick or otherwise damage the springs. These removal tools are rather inexpensive and can be purchased at most auto parts stores.

A common tool used for compressing caliper pistons is the C-clamp.

You’ll need two sizes of C-clamps, one for car calipers and a second, larger one for light truck calipers. A six-inch and an eight-inch C-clamp should suffice. Normally, you’ll be removing a caliper from a vehicle, and the caliper’s piston will have advanced forward as it follows the pad wear. When you want to install new pads, you must compress the pis- ton back into the caliper to make up for the additional thickness of the pads. Use a C-clamp to compress the caliper or a special caliper compres- sion tool (Figure 9). This special-purpose tool has a solid rubber block and a screw-driven ram to push the piston back into the caliper.

Automotive Braking Systems

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Automotive Braking Systems 7 FIGURE 8—A brake spring tool, like the one shown here, is used

FIGURE 8—A brake spring tool, like the one shown here, is used to remove and install the springs that hold the brake shoes against the wheel cylinder in drum brake systems.

FIGURE 9—A caliper com- pression tool is used for pushing a piston back into a caliper when you’re installing new brake pads. When using a C-clamp instead of this tool, always remember to protect the piston with a block of wood.

Safety

remember to protect the piston with a block of wood. Safety In most cases, working on

In most cases, working on a vehicle’s brakes should be no more dan- gerous than working on any other system. However, often this isn’t true. There are many areas of danger when performing this type of work. Some areas are easy to spot while others are hidden in the system.

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Automotive Braking Systems

Lifts and Lift Height

When you’re working on a vehicle’s brakes, you don’t have to lift the vehicle to extreme heights. If you have a lift at the shop where you’re working, you should have the center of the vehicle’s front or rear axle at about chest height. However, if you’re using jack stands, you should only lift the vehicle high enough to remove and replace the tire. The vehicle shouldn’t be lifted higher than necessary. When using jacks and jack stands, the vehicle becomes increasingly unstable as you lift it higher.

Brake Fluid Pressures

You must also be aware of the pressures that are involved in the braking system. In non-antilock braking systems, brake fluid pressures are released when the pedal is released. However, antilock braking systems often store high pressures within the system. These high fluid pressures must be released before you attempt to disconnect any line fittings.

Burns

Another area to be cautious of is heat. If a vehicle is brought to you with the complaint that the brakes are dragging, the rear axle is mak- ing noise, or that the car or truck is pulling to one side, the vehicle may have a sticking caliper or a broken drum brake return spring. The drum or rotor can be extremely hot. Touching any brake component can cause a serious burn. To avoid burns, let the system cool by itself or apply a light stream of compressed air while slowly rotating the wheel before working on the vehicle. Make sure to rotate the wheel so that the rotor or drum cools evenly to prevent warping.

Brake Dust and Asbestos

There is one final and very important issue that you should be aware of when working on brake systems—brake dust. Brake dust can be very dangerous to your health.

Brake or friction linings located on the brake pads or shoes are made of many different materials. Metal particles make up a percentage of the friction lining and are generally harmless as brake dust. There are also many other materials used to help remove heat, act as binders, and so forth. As with the metal particles, the effects of these materials in dust form is rather harmless. However, you should protect yourself from constantly breathing this dust because the dust can collect in your breathing passages and lungs over time.

Automotive Braking Systems

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One of the dangerous materials in some friction linings is asbestos. For many years asbestos was used in brake linings for reinforcement. As the friction lining wears, this dust can collect on the brake system compo- nents. Breathing in this dust can cause a disease known as asbestosis. The disease may not show itself for 20 years or more. With asbestosis, the as- bestos lodges in the lungs and causes inflammation of the lung tis- sues. When this inflammation heals, the resultant scar tissue thickens the lung walls. This thickening causes less oxygen to reach the body, resulting in a wide array of problems from shortness of breath to lung cancer to death.

In today’s large brake shops, certain procedures are followed when- ever a wheel is removed from a vehicle. One such procedure is to use a solvent to wash down the brake areas to collect the brake dust into a tank. The tank has a pump that recirculates the fluid, allowing many such cleanings to occur before the liquid must be changed. This wash- down system is shown in Figure 10.

FIGURE 10—A wash-down system can be used to rid a brake system of dust that can be hazardous to your health. (Photograph

courtesy of Clayton Associates, Inc., Lakewood, NJ, USA, http://www.jclayton.com)

( P h o t o g r a p h courtesy of Clayton Associates, Inc.,

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Automotive Braking Systems

A second method for removing brake dust uses a plastic boot that fits

over the rotor or drum. This boot has two rubber gloves that are used

to access the brake parts or remove the drum. The boot also has a fit-

ting to which a vacuum cleaner is attached. This vacuum cleaner must have a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter, or HEPA, such as the filter shown in Figure 11. This type of filter won’t allow dust to be pushed back into the shop’s environment. The plastic boot that fits over the brake system comes with various-sized rings to hold it over the rotor

or drum. After the boot is applied to the brake system, you can use the

vacuum to clean the entire system of all brake dust. In a disc brake sys- tem, you can simply clean the system after the tire is removed. In a

drum brake system, you can clean the outer surfaces, then, leaving the vacuum running, you can remove the drum by placing your hands in the rubber gloves. With the drum removed, you can vacuum the inside

of the drum surfaces and the remainder of the brake system.

of the drum surfaces and the remainder of the brake system. FIGURE 11—A HEPA filter prevents

FIGURE 11—A HEPA filter prevents small particles from passing through the filter. A vacuum that’s used with a boot dust collection system must have this type of filter in its exhaust system.

Automotive Braking Systems

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When you’re disposing of brake dust, such as sweeping the floor after working on a vehicle’s brakes, or removing a vacuum cleaner liner or filter, the safest method is to lightly mist the item or area with water. The water will keep the dust from floating back into the air.

When the dust is collected it can be placed in a plastic bag and disposed of in the garbage. You should make sure to mark the bag so that some- one else won’t open it and cause the dust to be released. Collected asbestos and brake dust isn’t normally considered hazardous waste unless it’s released to the air. You should always dispose of these materials according to your shop’s rules and regulations and to any applicable state or local regulations.

The air quality in a shop that does brake work is rated according to the particles of asbestos in the air. These asbestos particles are those that are longer than 0.0002 inches, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. If there are fewer than 0.1 fibers of asbestos per cubic centimeter of shop air per an eight-hour period, the air quality is acceptable. A shop can maintain these safe levels only by performing brake repairs using a wash-down or vacuum and dust-collection sys- tem. If there are more than 0.1 particles per cubic centimeter but less than 0.2 particles, the shop is required to monitor employee health and train its employees about asbestos and its potentially harmful effects on the human body. At levels above 0.2 particles per cubic centimeter, the exposure is at an unacceptable level and measures must be taken to reduce the employee’s exposure to the fibers.

OSHA requires brake shops to clean the brake system by washing or using a vacuum system with a HEPA filter before repairing a vehicle. You should also take care when sweeping or cleaning an area where brake repair has occurred. Instead of sweeping the floor, the floor should be washed or vacuumed. In addition, if brake shoes must be cut to conform to an oversized drum, you should make sure the cut- ting or grinding machine also contains a vacuum system with a HEPA filter.

Now, before you continue your studies, take a few moments to complete Self-Check 1. This brief review will allow you to test your understanding of the material up to this point.

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Automotive Braking Systems

12 Automotive Braking Systems Self-Check 1 At the end of each section of Automotive Braking Systems

Self-Check 1

At the end of each section of Automotive Braking Systems, you’ll be asked to pause and check your understanding of what you’ve just read by completing a “Self-Check” exer- cise. Writing the answers to these questions will help you to review what you’ve studied so far. Please complete Self-Check 1 now.

Fill in the blanks in each of the following statements.

1. A flare-end wrench may also be called a(n)

wrench or a(n)

wrench.

2. is used to adjust the star wheel on the rear drum brakes of an older vehicle.

A(n)

3. is a common tool used to retract caliper pistons when a specialized tool isn’t

A(n)

available.

4. measures pad and brake material thickness and is more accurate than a steel

A(n)

rule.

5. The amount the rotor moves away from its normal plane of motion as it’s rotated is known

as

and is measured with a

6. Excessive exposure to

found in brake dust can lead to health risks, such as short-

ness of breath, lung cancer, and death.

Check your answers with those on page 105.

FRICTION AND HYDRAULIC PRINCIPLES IN BRAKING SYSTEMS

There are two major principles at work in an automotive braking sys- tem. These principles are those of friction and those of fluid pressure in hydraulic systems. In this section of the study unit, we’ll look at these two principles in detail.

Automotive Braking Systems

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Types of Friction

There are basically two different types of friction. These types are static and dynamic. Static friction deals with bodies at rest and force is applied to one or both of the bodies to cause motion between the bodies. In this case, the bodies have been stationary for some period of time, and their surfaces have merged. Rough surfaces may have moved slightly so the peaks in one surface match with the valleys of the opposite surface. Even very smooth surfaces will experience this same merging when the peaks and valleys of the surfaces match each other.

Static friction is a fairly strong force. The energy that’s required to move the objects against static friction is very large—much larger, in fact, than the forces needed to keep something in motion once it has begun to move. A vehicle’s parking brake prevents the stopped vehicle from rolling downhill, for instance, because of static friction.

Dynamic friction is the friction that occurs between moving surfaces. Dynamic friction is much less powerful than static friction. It’s dy- namic friction, however, that’s most often involved in vehicle braking systems. Often termed kinetic friction, dynamic friction slows or stops the vehicle. Static friction, on the other hand, is more often produced by vehicle parking brakes.

The purpose of a vehicle’s braking system is to reduce the speed of a heavy car or truck. The braking system performs this function using frictional force. It takes the energy of the moving vehicle and converts that energy to heat.

The amount of friction applied to a brake drum or rotor depends upon two factors. The first is how much pressure is applied by the system. As pressure increases, the friction also increases. The second factor is the type of material the friction material and the contacted surface are made of. Some friction materials and surfaces have low friction values, while others have high friction values.

One of the earliest braking systems was the band brake system, illus- trated in Figure 12. In this system, a drum is attached to the rear drive shaft. Surrounding this drum is a band of thin steel to which a friction material is attached. When pedal or parking brake action works through a linkage system to pull the lever, the band tightens around the drum, creating friction and heat. This action, in turn, causes the vehicle to slow.

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Automotive Braking Systems

FIGURE 12—One of the old- est brake systems is the band brake system. This system squeezes a brake band around a rotating drum that was part of the transmission or drive shaft.

drum that was part of the transmission or drive shaft. There are many problems with band

There are many problems with band brakes. First, the amount of fric- tion applied to the drum on the drive shaft is limited. This problem is due to the small amount of friction material on the band and the lim- ited drum surface area involved in the braking system. Also, the force required on the brake pedal is very large, while the pressure of the band on the drum is rather small. Another problem with band brakes is that the failure of a rear-end gear or axle, which was common in the early years of automobiles, meant that you had no brakes for the entire vehicle!

Today, we have disc and drum brakes with one brake assembly per wheel. Usually there are disc brakes on the front of the vehicle and drum brakes at the rear of the vehicle. Many vehicles, especially sport vehicles, being produced today use disc brakes on all four wheels.

There’s also a wide selection of brake lining materials. These materials will be covered as we progress through this study unit. The lining of a disc brake pad is shown in Figure 13.

Automotive Braking Systems

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FIGURE 13—Here are two new brake pads removed from and installed in a vehicle. You can see that this is a quality friction material by its even blend of particles.

a quality friction material by its even blend of particles. Basic Friction Ratings Friction is typically

Basic Friction Ratings

Friction is typically rated in numbers and letters that reflect the coefficient of friction. In this system, a value of 1 is the highest number possible and relates to a very high level of friction. Most brake linings can’t reach this level of friction, so the code letter system was developed to define typical friction values. These values are taken at a standard pressure value against a standard surface material.

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Automotive Braking Systems

The following table lists coefficients of friction. You’ll see the material code letter in the left-hand column and the coefficient of friction in the right side of the table.

TABLE 1 Code Letters and Friction Values

Code Letter

Coefficient of Friction

C

0.00

- 0.15

D

0.15

- 0.25

E

0.25

- 0.35

F

0.35

- 0.45

G

0.45

- 0.55

H

0.55

and greater

You might think that it would be best to use the highest-rated friction material possible for all vehicles. While this might be great for braking capability, there’s always a downside. If you used the highest-rated friction material, the rotor or drum would quickly wear down. High- friction pads and shoes tend to rapidly wear out rotors and drums, whereas lower friction linings reduce the amount of wear. A vehicle should be equipped with the proper level of friction lining, one that won’t prematurely wear down the other parts.

Friction Causes Heat

The energy of motion that the friction material absorbs must be con- verted into some other form of energy. In a braking system, the energy of motion (kinetic energy) is converted to heat. In the study of physics there’s a law called the Law of the Conservation of Energy. This law states that energy can’t be destroyed but can be converted from one form to another. In a braking system, the kinetic energy of the vehicle is con- verted into a large amount of heat by the braking system.

High-friction brake linings generate a large amount of heat. If you’re a racing fan, you’ve probably seen this process occurring as you watch the footage from the cameras under racecars. On some short tracks, the camera shows the rotor of the front brakes turning an orange-red color at each turn. This is an example of a very high-friction lining under ex- treme working conditions. These race cars are designed with air ducts to channel air to the rotors and brake assemblies to help cool them be- tween turns. Even so, when these cars pit and the wheels are removed,

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you can see heat waves and often smoke coming from the front brake assemblies. The friction linings used on typical vehicles don’t come close to producing this amount of friction. The braking systems on race cars are only expected to endure five to six hundred miles, while typi- cal vehicles are expected to endure for many thousands of miles, re- quiring long-lasting linings, rotors, and drums in good working condition.

Our passenger cars and trucks don’t heat up the rotors and drums to a high degree under normal operating conditions. However, there are times when our vehicles do generate a lot of heat. For instance, if you have a heavy vehicle going down a long mountain pass, your vehicle can generate significant heat in your rotors, calipers, and drum brake assemblies. On long downhill stretches, there are often areas where you must pull over and have your brakes checked. If the brakes aren’t fully operational, you’ll be required to let them cool until sufficient braking friction returns. Excessive heat reduces friction, which can lead to many other problems. The most common problem with heat is called brake fade. Brake fade occurs when the surface of the drum or ro- tor is so hot that friction is greatly reduced. You can press harder and harder on the brake pedal, but you end up with less and less friction. Letting the brakes cool usually helps this situation.

Hydraulic Principles of Braking Systems

The one problem with the band brake system that we briefly discussed

is that the vehicle operator couldn’t apply very much pressure to the

band that surrounded the drum. Luckily, the vehicles of the past didn’t

travel at high speeds or frequently travel down long mountain passes.

In

order to increase the pressure applied to the friction linings and

to

send the pressure to all four wheels of the vehicle without the use

of

linkages, the hydraulic braking system was developed. This same

system, although heavily modified, is still being used today.

Pressure in a Closed System

A closed system is one where the working medium isn’t able to leave or

enter the system. A braking system is closed because brake fluid (the

working medium) isn’t normally added or removed from the operat- ing system. Similarly, you can make a closed system of a can filled with water. In this case the working medium will be water. Assume

you took a can and filled it with water. To that can of water, we’ll add a plunger and a weight to the top of the can. This experiment is shown

in Figure 14.

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Automotive Braking Systems

FIGURE 14—If a weight is placed on the plunger in this illustration, the fluid will come under the pressure of that weight. The fluid will then press evenly on all surfaces that it touches.

will then press evenly on all surfaces that it touches. The plunger in this illustration is

The plunger in this illustration is sealed so that no water can leak past it. At this time, a certain pressure exists equally across all surfaces of the can. This equal pressure is shown as the series of arrows placed in all directions around the can. What we’ve done creates pressure in the water. Water, unlike air, can’t be compressed. Therefore, the volume of water will remain constant, while the pressure applied by the water will increase as the amount of weight is increased.

Now, let’s add a hose with its end plugged to the bottom of the can. This experiment is shown in Figure 15. Now, will the pressure in the hose be the same as the pressure in the can? Yes! The pressure will be the same since the fluid will evenly transmit pressure to all of the sur- faces that it contacts.

Now let’s remove the plug in the end of the hose and attach the can to a second can of water. This experiment is shown in Figure 16. If the plungers in both cans have the same weight or mass, the pressure on the water will be equal to the combined weight of the plungers. How- ever, what will happen if we put a weight only on the first can? The pressure in both cans and the hose will once again be equal in all areas that the water touches.

One other interesting thing happens in this system. Since the weights of the systems’ plungers are unbalanced, the plunger in Can 1 will slightly sink in the can while the plunger in Can 2 will slightly rise in the can.

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Automotive Braking Systems 19 FIGURE 15—The fluid will provide an even pressure on all surfaces it

FIGURE 15—The fluid will provide an even pressure on all surfaces it encounters, even the inside walls of a hose connected to the can as shown here.

inside walls of a hose connected to the can as shown here. FIGURE 16—In this system,

FIGURE 16—In this system, placing a weight on Can 1’s plunger will cause a pressure to be formed through- out the system and will cause the plunger in Can 2 to raise.

This is a simplified example of how the hydraulic system and the brake system in a vehicle operates. To compare a hydraulic system to the example, Can 1 would be the master cylinder, and Can 2 would be one of the brake cylinders or calipers. If you can imagine three more

20

Automotive Braking Systems

cans added to the system, each with their own plungers but no weights, you would then represent the braking system for each wheel.

The Pressure Equation

In our previous example, we created a very low pressure in the system. The total pressure would be equal to the amount of weight divided by the area of the piston.

To create friction with a brake pad or shoe, we must apply the pad or shoe against a drum or rotor under a large amount of pressure. A hydraulic system can be used to increase the pressure of a person’s foot upon a brake pedal many times over to increase the pressure of the lining on the drum or rotor. To understand how this action occurs, we must look at the pressure formula.

To calculate pressure, use the following equation:

P

F

A

where:

P

F

A

= pressure

= force

= area

Using our previous example, if we have a weight of 10 pounds and the piston area is 10 square inches, then the resultant pressure is equal to

10 10 or one pound per square inch, or one psi.

Our braking systems require much more than this pressure to operate and stop a vehicle. Let’s consider the closed system of Figure 17.

FIGURE 17—This illustration shows how a piston with an area of one square inch with an applied force of 100 pounds can produce a fluid pressure of 100 psi on all surfaces the fluid touches.

square inch with an applied force of 100 pounds can produce a fluid pressure of 100

Automotive Braking Systems

21

In this system, we have a force of 100 pounds acting on a piston with an area of one square inch. This action will cause a pressure of 100

1

or

100 psi to be present on the fluid. In normal operation with a power booster ahead of the master cylinder, the pressure on the fluid inside a master cylinder can be much higher.

How does this action help us in a braking system? Let’s look at Figure 18. In this figure, we have connected a pressure-creating cylinder, a mas- ter cylinder, to a single caliper piston. If we have created 100 psi in the master cylinder and pressurized the fluid in the entire system, what will happen at the two square inch caliper piston?

what will happen at the two square inch caliper piston? FIGURE 18—In this example, a one-inch
what will happen at the two square inch caliper piston? FIGURE 18—In this example, a one-inch
what will happen at the two square inch caliper piston? FIGURE 18—In this example, a one-inch

FIGURE 18—In this example, a one-inch piston is applying fluid pressure to a brake system that contains a two-inch piston.

We can look at the force that will be provided by the hydraulic system by modifying the pressure formula as follows:

Instead of P

use:

F=P A

F

A

What this equation means is that the force of 100 psi is multiplied by two, the area of the caliper piston, to give us a force of 200 pounds at the piston inside the caliper. We have, by doubling the piston area, doubled the force on the piston inside the caliper.

22

Automotive Braking Systems

22 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 19—Since we can’t create energy, we must lose something. This illustration
22 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 19—Since we can’t create energy, we must lose something. This illustration

FIGURE 19—Since we can’t create energy, we must lose something. This illustration shows how we lose motion.

But, previously we mentioned the Law of the Conservation of Energy. How can an input force of 100 pounds result in an output force of 200 pounds? The answer lies in how far the pistons travel. Refer to Figure 19. In this figure, the master cylinder piston travels a total distance of one inch, while the brake cylinder travels a total distance of 1 2 inch. The pres- sure doubled, but the distance the second piston traveled is divided by two. All variables are, therefore, equal, and the Law of the Conservation of Energy holds true.

equal, and the Law of the Conservation of Energy holds true. In a braking system, the

In a braking system, the distance the master cylinder piston(s) travels is rather small since the disc brake pads and the rear drum shoes are located very close to the areas on the rotor or drum where they contact and create friction. If you have ever driven a vehicle in which the rear shoes weren’t adjusted properly and had a large gap between them and the drum, you would have noticed a large amount of travel in the brake pedal. This travel of the brake pedal was necessary to make up for the large amount of travel needed to have the shoes contact the drum. Of course, a good brake technician could repair this situation.

Brake Fluid Types

We’ve been discussing the use of water in our study of hydraulic systems. Water is a good example since it, like brake fluid, is a non- compressible fluid. However, water evaporates and boils at relatively low temperatures. If we used a gas, such as helium, the plunger or piston travel distances wouldn’t be equal since the volume of the gas compresses.

True brake fluid is made from one of three types of materials:

1. Polyglycol—colored clear to amber

2. Silicone—colored purple

Automotive Braking Systems

23

3. Hydraulic system mineral oil—colored green

Of these three materials, polyglycol is by far the most commonly used fluid in today’s brake systems. The fluid’s formal name is actually polyglycol-alkylene-glycol-ether. This fluid has been used for many

years in all types of vehicles. The advantages of polyglycol are that it’s compatible with most metals; will slightly swell rubber seals, making for a leak-free system; and has a very high boiling point, yet it flows well in cold temperatures. The main problem with polyglycol is that

it easily attracts and absorbs water. You’d say that polyglycol is very

hygroscopic, meaning that it easily attracts and absorbs water. This problem with brake fluid means that over time the brake fluid can absorb enough water to cause the water to aid in the corrosion of the internal pistons, lines, and other metallic components of the brake sys- tem. You must drain and replace the brake fluid on a scheduled basis to maintain proper brake operation and to limit the repairs that are necessary on the system. Changing the fluid is known as bleeding the brakes. The old fluid that leaves the system often has the appearance of a cola-type soda.

One other problem with polyglycol-based brake fluid is that it can turn

a painted surface into a damaged surface in a few seconds. The brake

fluid can dissolve the paint and leave it blistered on the surface of the vehicle. Always be careful when draining a master cylinder, changing components, or bleeding the system. Also, you must always use poly- glycol fluid from a tightly sealed container. A loose cap could mean that the fluid has already absorbed a large quantity of water. When in doubt, use a new container of this type of brake fluid, and try to avoid buying very large containers unless you perform a large amount of brake work.

The second type of brake fluid is silicone, which is an inert brake fluid that’s much more expensive than standard polyglycol fluids. It’s non- hygroscopic, meaning that it won’t readily absorb water. This quality of the fluid means there will be little or no corrosion to the internal parts of the system. While it’s slightly more viscous, or thicker, than polyglycol brake fluid, silicone brake fluid can be used at much lower temperatures. It can also be used at much higher temperatures, mak- ing silicon the brake fluid of choice where brake systems are subject to high temperatures, such as in racing. Early silicone brake fluids were somewhat susceptible to leaks. However, additives have helped the fluid slightly swell the rubber components of the system, helping make the brake system as leak-free as a polyglycol-based system. Silicon fluids also mix well with air, which can cause a spongy brake pedal unless all air is bled from the system.

The third type of brake fluid, hydraulic system mineral oil, or HSMO, has a mineral oil base, much like engine oil. However, there are many additives included with the mineral oil to make it acceptable as a brake

24

Automotive Braking Systems

fluid. HSMO has a very high boiling point, is an excellent lubricator for the moving parts of the system, and is nonhygroscopic.

Rating Systems for Brake Fluids

Both the Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE, and the Depart- ment of Transportation, or DOT, have rating systems for brake fluids. These ratings take into account the boiling points of the brake fluids, when dry and after the fluids have been exposed to moisture. Table 2 displays the values used for the DOT-based rating system. This system is a very popular system of rating brake fluids. In most cases, you’ll be purchasing or installing brake fluid that’s specified by the DOT rating system.

 

TABLE 2 DOT Fluid Temperature Ratings

 

Fluid DOT Rating

ERBP Dry

ERBP Wet

DOT 3

401 F

205 C

285 F

140 C

DOT 4

446 F

230 C

310 F

155 C

DOT 5

500 F

260 C

356 F

180 C

ERBP stands for Equilibrium Reflux Boiling Point. The dry rating is the minimum value of temperature at which the brake fluid will begin to boil. The wet values reflect the brake fluid that has absorbed water. Water has a much lower boiling point than brake fluid. Therefore, if the brake fluid has absorbed water, the water will lower the boiling point of the brake fluid.

Polyglycol-based brake fluids are DOT 3 and DOT 4 fluids. Currently, the only brake fluid that reaches DOT 5 ratings is silicone fluid. HSMO fluid isn’t rated by the DOT system.

You may wonder if all types of DOT brake fluids are compatible. In

simple terms, yes, they are compatible. You can pour DOT 3 into a master cylinder containing DOT 4 or DOT 5 and mix these fluids as

desired. There are two issues you should consider before you perform

this

mixing. First, the overall temperature rating and the DOT rating

will

be equal to the lowest value of DOT fluid in the system. While this

may not be an issue in a small economy car, it may be an issue in a per- formance or large, luxury car. Also, DOT 3 and DOT 4 fluids easily

mix due to their common polyglycol makeup. However, DOT 5 fluid

won’t mix with either DOT 3 or 4 fluids. Instead, the DOT 5 fluid will

Automotive Braking Systems

25

stay on the top of the system, such as in the master cylinder, while the DOT 3 or 4 fluids will settle into the calipers and wheel cylinders.

Polyglycol-based fluids should be bled and replaced at least every two years. If a vehicle is brought in for service and the brake fluid hasn’t been bled in this time frame, it’s to the customer’s benefit to bleed the fluid from the system and install fresh fluid. If there is DOT 5 fluid in the system, there’s no need to bleed the system unless dirt or other brake fluids have contaminated the Dot 5 fluid.

Now, take a few moments to review what you’ve learned by complet- ing Self-Check 2.

review what you’ve learned by complet- ing Self-Check 2 . Self-Check 2 Fill in the blanks

Self-Check 2

Fill in the blanks in each of the following statements.

1. A parking brake relies on the principle of

friction.

2. One of the earliest braking systems for automobiles was the

3. The Law of the Conservation of Energy states that energy can’t be converted from one form to another.

brake.

but can be

4. Installing brake pads with higher friction ratings than the design calls for will increase wear.

5. DOT 4 brake fluid should be replaced at least every

6. is a mineral oil-based brake fluid which does not easily attract and absorb water.

Check your answers with those on page 105.

26

Automotive Braking Systems

MASTER CYLINDERS AND POWER BOOSTERS

Master Cylinder Design

If the braking system of a vehicle could be compared to the human

body, the brake systems at the wheels would be the body’s muscles and the master cylinder would be the heart. Just as the heart pumps blood to the muscles, the master cylinder is responsible for pumping fluid to the brake system to make it perform work. Since the master cylinder is such an important part of the braking system, we’ll cover this part first in our study of braking systems.

As we progress through the following sections, remember that we’re simply discussing pressurized fluid flow. The master cylinder is re- sponsible for pressurizing fluid and sending it out to the working de- vices at the wheels. There are various devices involved in controlling this flow to the working devices at the wheels. Some of these control devices are located in or around the master cylinder; these devices will be covered in this section. Other control devices located on the fire- wall, or the frame, or at the rear axle, will be covered later in this study unit.

A typical master cylinder is shown in Figure 20. This master cylinder is

mounted to a vacuum power booster. The power booster is used to allow a small force on the brake pedal to create a larger force on the pistons

inside the master cylinder. This force, in turn, relates to a larger braking force at the wheels for little effort on the brake pedal. While looking

at the master cylinder and power booster, notice that there’s a single

vacuum hose that feeds the power booster. Also, notice there are lines leading out of the master cylinder. These lines are the pressurized lines that go to the wheel cylinders and calipers.

The earliest master cylinders had just one chamber, as shown in Figure 21. We’ll use a side view of this early master cylinder as an example of one

of the dual systems used in a modern car or light truck.

When the pedal is depressed, the pedal applies pressure to the actuator

or push rod. This rod, in turn, presses on a piston or spool that’s re-

sponsible for pressurizing the brake fluid that’s in front of the piston.

Consider the rod as a spool inside of a closed tube. When the piston

is pressed into the tube, the fluid that’s in the tube is compressed, or

pressurized, in an amount that’s equal to the force on the actuator rod divided by the area of the piston. When equal forces are applied to different pistons, smaller pistons create greater pressures, according

to our previous mathematical formulas. However, we’ll need a certain

volume of fluid; therefore, the piston area must be a certain minimum size.

Automotive Braking Systems

27

Automotive Braking Systems 27 FIGURE 20—This is an example of one type of master cylinder. Above

FIGURE 20—This is an example of one type of master cylinder.

Above the piston is a reservoir that’s full of unpressurized brake fluid.

A small hole between the reservoir allows fluid to pass from the reser-

voir into the tube or cylinder in front of the piston where it can be

pressurized by the piston. This flow of fluid into the tube or cylinder

is only allowed when the piston is returned to the back of the cylinder

by the spring. This action occurs when the vehicle operator releases the

brake pedal. As soon as the pedal is depressed and the piston moves forward, or to the left in our illustration, the hole between the cylinder and the reservoir becomes blocked by the seal on the piston. This seal

is a specially shaped device called the primary seal. Some fluid will

flow to the rear of the piston through the hole in the reservoir at the extreme right of the reservoir and will be blocked from flowing out of the master cylinder by the secondary seal at the rear of the piston. When the fluid is pressurized ahead of the piston by the primary seal, the

fluid will be released from the outlet and will be allowed to pressurize the vehicle’s brake cylinder and calipers.

The distance the actuator rod and the piston moves depends upon

how much fluid is needed to fill the brake system lines and move all

of the pads and shoes into contact with the rotors and drums. If the

28

Automotive Braking Systems

clearance at the pad or shoe is small, the push rod and piston travel will also be small. If the clearance is large, the rod and piston travel will also be large. Having a large clearance and piston travel results in a long pedal travel in the vehicle. Long pedal travel isn’t a good con- dition, and the brake system should be repaired to bring pedal travel back to specifications.

CAP BRAKE FLUID VEHICLE’S RESERVOIR FIREWALL ACTUATOR OR PUSH ROD FLUID PRIMARY SPRING PISTON SECONDARY
CAP
BRAKE FLUID
VEHICLE’S
RESERVOIR
FIREWALL
ACTUATOR OR
PUSH ROD
FLUID
PRIMARY
SPRING
PISTON
SECONDARY
OUTLET
SEAL
OR SPOOL
SEAL

FIGURE 21—This is a side view of a single master cylinder.

The primary seal is responsible for the major work of the master cylinder. The primary seal is also referred to as a cup seal, although some newer designs use O-rings. A close look at the operation of the primary or cup seal is shown in Figure 22. The illustration slightly exaggerates the seal’s action, as an actual seal’s motion is minimal. In Figure 22A the piston is moving forward. The seal opens outward, much like an umbrella is opened when the wind is at your back. The seal edges expand and press against the interior walls of the cylinder with enough force to cause the brake fluid to become pressurized with little or no fluid leaking past the seal. A fluid leak at this seal usually results in the pedal going to the floor if constant pressure is placed on the pedal.

In Figure 22B the brake pedal has been released, and the piston is trav- eling to the right. The edges of the cup seal will have collapsed back away from the cylinder walls, allowing the fluid to bypass the piston and flow back toward the rear of the piston and back into the reservoir until all of the brake fluid is at the same pressure.

Automotive Braking Systems

29

FIGURE 22—The seals used in master cylinders are nor- mally cup seals that expand outward to seal when pres- surizing the brake fluid and collapse backward to allow free flow of fluid when the piston travels back to its resting position.

fluid when the piston travels back to its resting position. New cup seals are included in
fluid when the piston travels back to its resting position. New cup seals are included in
fluid when the piston travels back to its resting position. New cup seals are included in
fluid when the piston travels back to its resting position. New cup seals are included in
fluid when the piston travels back to its resting position. New cup seals are included in
fluid when the piston travels back to its resting position. New cup seals are included in

New cup seals are included in master cylinder rebuilding kits, along with many other components. If the service manual requires honing, it’s very important to properly hone a cast-steel master cylinder so that the new seal will be able to seat in the cylinder bore. If you look down the bore of a master cylinder and you see pitting or score lines, the master cylinder should be replaced. The newer aluminum master cylinders can’t be honed since they’re normally plated or anodized to prevent wearing inside of the master cylinder. Some cast-steel master cylinders also can’t be honed since their bore surface is specially manufactured by pressing a ball bearing into the bore. This bearing aligns the grain of the metal in one direction, leaving a special hard surface.

Let’s continue looking at a master cylinder and the two ports that typically exist between the reservoir and the cylinder. Figure 23 displays these two ports located in the area of the piston and its main or primary cup seal. Note that one port is ahead of the cup seal while the second port is behind the cup seal.

The port that’s to the left of the primary seal is the compensating port. The purpose of this port is to equalize the fluid volume in the system. When the system is warm the fluid will expand. Instead of trapping the fluid in the system and causing the brakes to get lightly applied to the rotors or drums, the compensating port drains off this excess pressure and allows

30

Automotive Braking Systems

30 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 23—Unlike this single-piston old-fashioned model, a modern master cylinder has

FIGURE 23—Unlike this single-piston old-fashioned model, a modern master cylinder has two pistons and two chambers inside the master cylinder.

some of the fluid to go back into the reservoir. When the system cools, this same port allows fluid to flow back into the system.

If you remove the cover of the reservoir above the master cylinder and have someone apply the brakes, you may see the fluid splashing when the brake pedal is first applied. These little splashes are caused by fluid being pushed up the compensating ports. The fluid flow will be quickly cut off as the primary seal closes off the compensating port as it passes by the port.

The port to the right of the primary or cup seal is called the replenishing port. This is a rather large diameter port and is used to keep the piston area behind the cup seal flooded with brake fluid. When the brake pedal is released and the piston is traveling backward, this fluid flows past the retracted cup seal edges and fills in the area the piston is leav- ing. Otherwise, the return of the piston would create a vacuum in the master cylinder.

Having a single master cylinder is a dangerous situation. Figure 24 displays a hydraulic circuit for such a system.

A leak at any point in the system causes fluid loss. Eventually, the fluid will drain from the system, and the brakes wouldn’t work. Also, if there were a catastrophic failure, such as a wheel cylinder

Automotive Braking Systems

31

Automotive Braking Systems 31 FIGURE 24—In the earliest hydraulic brake systems, all of the wheel cylinders

FIGURE 24—In the earliest hydraulic brake systems, all of the wheel cylinders were connected together and then connected to a single outlet at the master cylinder.

seal blowing out, or a line or fitting rupture, all hydraulic pressure would be suddenly lost, resulting in a loss of braking action.

To avoid these dangerous situations, all cars and trucks built since 1967 now use a dual, or tandem, master cylinder. This master cylinder has two reservoirs, two pistons, and other components that add a mar- gin of safety to the system. A side view of the tandem master cylinder is shown in Figure 25.

This master cylinder is very similar to our single master cylinder, with two major exceptions. First, there are, obviously, two different piston assemblies, each with their own primary and secondary seals. Second, the pistons divide the single tube or cylinder within the master cylinder into two distinct pressure areas. In some cases, these two areas are equal. However, it’s often the case that there are two different-sized areas and two different-sized reservoirs above the cylinder. The larger area will

32

Automotive Braking Systems

32 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 25—These are the typical parts of a dual, or tandem, master

FIGURE 25—These are the typical parts of a dual, or tandem, master cylinder.

provide pressurized brake fluid to the front wheels if the system is a dual-split system. We’ll look more into how the brake system can be split into sections later in this study unit.

The two pistons and cylinders allow there to be two separate, yet mechanically linked, pressurization systems that feed brake fluid to the rest of the braking system. If one system were to leak or rupture, you’d still have a certain, although less powerful, ability to stop the vehicle. At this time, a switch would be enabled to light the dashboard-mounted brake warning light to tell the vehicle operator of the brake system failure.

Figure 26 shows the internal components of a master cylinder. You can see that there are two pistons and seals, along with the springs and other components. The pistons aren’t interchangeable. In this case, the master cylinder is a step-bore or quick-take-up master cylinder, so there are two different diameters to the one piston.

The brake lines from a tandem master cylinder can then be routed so there are separate circuits for the front disc brakes and for the rear drum or disc brakes. This system is often termed a split-braking system. If the front or rear braking system fails, the other system can take over and stop the car. This split-braking system is shown in Figure 27. Keep in mind that we’re showing a basic set of hydraulic brake circuits at this point in this text. As we continue into the last section of this text, we’ll look more closely at special valves that allow for a more precise control of the flow of pressurized brake fluid and that monitor fluid pressures to make sure there hasn’t been a system failure.

Automotive Braking Systems

33

Automotive Braking Systems 33 FIGURE 26—This master cylinder has been disassembled to reveal the internal components.

FIGURE 26—This master cylinder has been disassembled to reveal the internal components. As you can see, there are three assemblies inside the master cylinder. The retaining ring that holds the pistons and springs in the master cylinder isn’t shown.

Early disc brake systems allowed the pads in the caliper to ride on the surface of the rotor. When the master cylinder applied pressure, the pads were forced into the rotor. However, when the brake pedal was released, the pads remained in a small amount of contact. In the inter- est of fuel economy and pad wear, this isn’t a good situation. A special piston seal is designed to back the piston into the caliper when the braking pressure was removed.

This situation, however, leads to another problem. The pads are back from the rotor, but the pedal travel must include a much greater dis- tance just to refill the system with brake fluid to get the pistons back out of the calipers. This need for additional fluid led to the manufacture of what is commonly called the quick-take-up or fast-fill master cylinder.

34

Automotive Braking Systems

34 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 27—The two outlets of a tandem (dual) master cylinder allow a
34 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 27—The two outlets of a tandem (dual) master cylinder allow a
34 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 27—The two outlets of a tandem (dual) master cylinder allow a
34 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 27—The two outlets of a tandem (dual) master cylinder allow a
34 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 27—The two outlets of a tandem (dual) master cylinder allow a
34 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 27—The two outlets of a tandem (dual) master cylinder allow a
34 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 27—The two outlets of a tandem (dual) master cylinder allow a
34 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 27—The two outlets of a tandem (dual) master cylinder allow a

FIGURE 27—The two outlets of a tandem (dual) master cylinder allow a system to be divided into two differ- ent braking systems, allowing for greater safety than a single master cylinder and braking system can offer.

The main difference between a standard dual master cylinder and a quick-take-up or fast-fill master cylinder is the use of two different bore sizes in the tube or cylinder. The first piston in the fast-fill and standard master cylinders uses a standard-sized piston and seals and is used to operate the rear brakes in a split front/rear brake system. In a fast-fill cylinder, the rear piston, or the one closest to the firewall or power booster, uses a piston that has two different diameters at its ends and has two different diameter seals. This type of master cylinder also has a special valve in the base of the reservoir called a quick-take-up valve that’s very important to the operation of the master cylinder. A side view of such a system is shown in Figure 28A.

Here’s how this valve system operates. First, imagine that the brake pedal isn’t applied. The two pistons are retracted toward the power booster by spring action. The master cylinder acts just like the dual system we’ve seen earlier. The replenishing port and the compensating ports are both open to the opposite sides of the primary piston seal.

Automotive Braking Systems

35

Automotive Braking Systems 35 FIGURE 28—The quick-take-up master cylinder has a special valve above the primary

FIGURE 28—The quick-take-up master cylinder has a special valve above the primary (rear) piston. This valve stays open until the pressure in the front brakes increases to a certain level. At that time, the valve closes and the master cylinder works as all standard straight-bore master cylinders.

36

Automotive Braking Systems

Now, let’s apply the brakes as shown in Figure 28B. At this time, the quick-take-up valve at the bottom of the reservoir for the step-bore side of the master cylinder is closed. This valve is basically just a ball and a stiff calibrated spring in a typical check valve configuration. When the pedal pressure is applied, the pistons will begin to travel forward. The front piston closes off the compensating port and is now pressur- izing the fluid in the rear-braking system.

The rear piston is also traveling forward. In this case, however, the vol- ume of fluid behind the primary cup seal is also being compressed and is being forced forward by piston movement. This forward motion of the fluid keeps the cup seal collapsed so that it’s providing no fluid pressurization. A large amount of fluid is now flowing from behind the primary cup seal and into the front brake system where it’s moving the front brake pads into contact with the rotors. The secondary or rear seal on the piston creates this fluid flow.

The next event is the pressurization of the front brake system. The brake system has completely filled with fluid, and the entire system is ready for a high-pressure application of brake fluid. Once the pressure in the system reaches 70 to 100 psi, the quick-take-up valve will open. In other words, the ball will lift off of its seat under spring pressure and allow the fluid in the piston area behind the cup seal to be released back into the reservoir. The cup seal at the front of the piston will now expand and release high-pressure, but low-volume, brake fluid to the front brake system as shown in Figure 28C. When the brake pedal is released, the fluid will flow back to the reservoir as normal.

Before we leave the subject of master cylinders and braking systems, there’s one other master cylinder in the braking system configuration that we should discuss. This system is the diagonal-split system. This system is shown in Figure 29.

One of the main problems with the dual-split or front/rear split brak- ing systems is that, if one section of the braking system fails, the other must assume the braking responsibility for the system. As a result, the front or rear wheels may lock, and the vehicle may skid. The diagonal- split system involves the single front and rear wheel having braking power in the event of a failure of the opposite system. This system requires special suspension designs and brake system valves to make sure the car can stop in a straight line after one of the two systems fails. The quick-take-up master cylinder used in our photos is used in such a system since there are four outlet ports and two special proportioning valves on the master cylinder.

Automotive Braking Systems

37

Automotive Braking Systems 37 FIGURE 29—Many front-wheel drive vehicles now use a diagonal-split braking system, such
Automotive Braking Systems 37 FIGURE 29—Many front-wheel drive vehicles now use a diagonal-split braking system, such

FIGURE 29—Many front-wheel drive vehicles now use a diagonal-split braking system, such as the one shown here.

Troubleshooting Master Cylinder Problems

Master cylinders are very durable and, if maintained, can last for the entire life of a vehicle. To properly care for the master cylinder, you should change DOT 3 and DOT 4 fluids every two years or sooner, depending upon local humidity and extent of use.

Troubleshooting the master cylinder begins with a visual test. Pay careful attention to the vehicle owner’s description of the perceived problem.

When performing visual tests, look for signs of leakage around the master cylinder. Pay special attention to the area between the master cylinder and the power booster since a leaking secondary seal can cause brake fluid to show up at this location. You should also inspect all brake lines and wheel cylinders and calipers for fluid leakage, and repair these items as necessary.

When the basic visual inspection is complete, you should clean off the top of the reservoir and remove the reservoir cover. In this cover, there should be one or more vents. These vents keep the pressure above the fluid at atmospheric pressure. You can check these vents by holding the cover up to the light. Some covers have a small split in the gasket where it meets the reservoir that acts as a vent.

38

Automotive Braking Systems

With the cover off the reservoir, you can check the quality and quan- tity of brake fluid in the system. A very low or dry reservoir section means there is trouble somewhere in the system, such as worn brake pads or shoes. A very low condition, as with a dry condition, usually means a leak has occurred and must be repaired. If the leak isn’t at the back of the reservoir next to the power booster, then it must be some- where else in the system. To make sure the master cylinder isn’t leak- ing, many technicians loosen the bolts that hold the master cylinder to the power booster and pull it slightly away from the booster while looking for signs of brake fluid. A light wetting of this area may be considered normal, but large quantities of brake fluid aren’t normal.

One of the most common problems with a master cylinder is the brake pedal fading to the floor. This problem is normally caused by one of two situations. One cause is that one or both of the primary seals is damaged and is allowing fluid to pass by the seal to the rear of the piston. The second cause is that the side walls of the cylinder can be scored or pitted, allowing the fluid that should be holding the brakes applied at the wheels to bypass the cup seals and reduce the brake pressure. This situation, in turn, will make the pedal travel down to the floor.

On some quick-take-up master cylinders, the quick-take-up valve can stick open. If the valve is stuck open, there’s excessive downward travel of the brake pedal as the small piston and its primary cup seal

or O-ring tries to provide a large amount of fluid. In this case, the fluid will be provided but not until the brake pedal has traveled almost to the floor.

A second problem with a quick-take-up system is that the quick-take-

up valve can become stuck closed. If the valve is stuck closed, the

brake pedal will work normally on the downstroke but will return very slowly to the up position.

It’s important to note a condition that the master cylinder sometimes gets blamed for, but rarely causes, is a spongy brake pedal. In this situation, the pedal can be depressed but not as fully as it should. What’s actually the problem is air somewhere in the system. This air is compressible where brake fluid isn’t. It’s this air, not a master cylinder, that causes this problem.

Rebuilding Master Cylinders

Rebuilding procedures for master cylinders vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. You should always consult the service manual for the master cylinder you’re working on before you attempt to rebuild one and place it back into service. Service manuals give you exact procedures to use during the rebuild and the installation of the master cylinder.

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As we have seen, there are basically two main types of master cylinders. One type is made of cast steel. The other type is made of aluminum. The aluminum master cylinder normally has a plastic reservoir.

The first step to rebuilding a master cylinder is to remove the part from the vehicle. Using flare-end wrenches, remove the brake lines that attach to the master cylinder. Next, remove the two bolts that hold the master cylinder to the power booster. With these two bolts removed, pull the master cylinder from the power booster and then from the vehicle.

Once the master cylinder is free of the vehicle, dump out the reservoirs into a pan and properly discard the old fluid. Then, clean the master cylinder in a mild solvent or soap and water. This cleaning allows you to get the majority of the dirt from the outside of the master cylinder and from the inside of the reservoirs.

You can then begin disassembly. On some master cylinders, there are pressure switches, fluid level switches, proportioning valves, and residual check valves. All these parts can be removed at this time. To reach the re- sidual check valve, you may need to pry up the flare seat in one of the master cylinder’s outlets. If you have an aluminum master cylinder, the plastic reservoir can be removed by gently prying up on it using a brake spoon or small pry bar. It often helps to mount the master cylinder in a vise that’s equipped with soft jaws. This is especially important with alu- minum master cylinders since you don’t want to damage them. The vise must hold the master cylinder only by its mounting flanges. Tighten the vise just enough to hold the master cylinder.

With all of the additional components removed, you can begin getting the piston assemblies out of the master cylinder. Turn the master cylin- der with its power booster side up and remove the retaining ring, as shown in Figure 30. To remove this retaining ring or clip, you’ll have to lightly depress the piston with a small bar or screwdriver. In the fig- ure, the technician is using a brake spring pliers to depress the piston.

The retaining ring may be removed using snap ring pliers. In the case of the master cylinder in Figure 30, there are no holes for the snap ring pli- ers, so a small screwdriver is inserted into the small angle at the end of the retaining ring and the ring is pried upward. With the retaining ring removed, you can start removing the piston assemblies. The piston as- semblies should easily come out of the master cylinder since they’re un- der spring pressure. You may need to remove a stop bolt at the base of the master cylinder to get the front piston assembly out of the cylinder. If the front piston assembly is stuck, you can usually free it by placing compressed air into the front master cylinder outlet or by tapping the master cylinder, with its open end down, against a block of wood.

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Automotive Braking Systems

40 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 30—To remove the retaining ring at the rear of the master

FIGURE 30—To remove the retaining ring at the rear of the master cylinder, you must press down on the piston as shown here. You can then remove the snap ring or retaining ring.

With the pistons removed, you can look down the bore of the master cylinder for pitting in the case of a cast-iron cylinder, or wear and scoring in the case of an aluminum cylinder. In either case, the master cylinder should be replaced.

If the master cylinder’s bore is in good condition, you can then open up the kit of rebuild parts and wash them along with the master cylinder to clean all of the components. Make sure that both the compensating ports and the replenishing ports are open by using small wires or com- pressed air. In the case of a cast-iron master cylinder, you may need to hone the cylinder before installing the rebuild components. Check with a service manual to be sure honing is allowed or desired. Light honing is often performed since it gives the new seals a surface on which they can seat. The honing should have a light crosshatch pat- tern. To accomplish this pattern, place a honing stone assembly inside the master cylinder and pull it into and out of the master cylinder. At the same time, turn on the drill that’s mounted in the honing stone assembly. The idea isn’t to remove a lot of material from the bore; it’s only to provide a lightly roughed up surface for the new seals.

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41

Aluminum master cylinder bores should never be honed. Their bore surfaces are anodized and, if damaged, should be replaced.

Once the master cylinder is cleaned and inspected, the old piston seals should be removed and replaced with new seals. If there is a residual check valve in one or both of the outlets, the piston seals can be in- stalled into the outlets and the new retainers tapped into place with a wooden dowel and a hammer. Residual pressure valves will only be found on older drum brake systems where the wheel cylinders don’t have cup expanders. These valves are typically found on pre-1970 automobiles and light trucks.

You’re now ready to begin reassembly. Lubricate the master cylinder bore and the seal areas of the front piston with a small amount of brake fluid. Install the residual check valve (again, present only on older models), the spring and spring retainer, and the front piston into the bore. Follow these steps with the second spring, retainer, and piston assembly after applying a coating of brake fluid to the seal areas. This step is shown in Figure 31.

fluid to the seal areas. This step is shown in Figure 31 . FIGURE 31—After you’ve

FIGURE 31—After you’ve cleaned the master cylinder and the new seals as well as placed the seals on the pistons, you can reassemble the master cylinder by placing the pistons back in the master cylinder in the proper order. Here, the rear piston is being replaced.

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Automotive Braking Systems

The next step is to replace the retainer by pressing inward on the rear piston and installing the retaining ring or clip. With the interior section of the master cylinder complete, you should replace any pressure switches and proportioning valves that you previously removed. If you removed the plastic reservoir, you may install and, with clean brake fluid, lubricate new O-rings. Press the reservoir onto the O-rings using a straight downward motion.

The final part of the rebuild procedure is to bench bleed the master cylinder. You bleed the cylinder in order to remove any trapped air from the system before you mount it onto the car.

To bench bleed the master cylinder, mount it into the vise as was done previously. Next, fill the reservoir to the top with clean, fresh brake fluid. Now, with the reservoir full of fluid, press in on the rear piston and allow the fluid to escape the master cylinder outlets until all of the air has escaped. Slowly press the piston and let the brake fluid flow from the master cylinder into a pan. Don’t reuse this fluid. You can also make up short brake lines that screw into the master cylinder out- let ports. You can then bend the lines so that they return to the top of the master cylinder, which will allow you to bleed the master cylinder without losing the fluid. When you’re done bench bleeding the master cylinder, you can lightly depress the rear piston and install small spac- ers or washers between the retaining ring and the piston. If the spacers are properly placed, the cup seal or O-ring will block the compensat- ing ports, allowing you to remove the fittings and small brake lines or just to stop bleeding the master cylinder without losing any more fluid from the reservoir through the outlet ports. This procedure can be fol- lowed when you’re working on other parts of the brake system. Slightly depress the brake pedal, and little or no fluid will flow from an open brake line. In the case of bench bleeding, make sure to remove the spacers after you’ve connected the master cylinder to the vehicle’s brake lines and before you bolt it to the power booster. Once the mas- ter cylinder has been installed, you’ll need to bleed the entire brake system. This process will be covered later in this study unit.

Power Boosters

Although we’ve been calling them power boosters throughout this study unit, the real name for the typical vehicle power booster is the integral vacuum booster. The purpose of this device is to increase the pressure that’s applied to the brake pedal and apply this pressure to the push rod that presses on the pistons in the master cylinder.

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To display the operation of a power booster, we’ll use a simple example. Suppose that we have two metal bowls pressed together and sealed. A rubber diaphragm separates the bowls. Both sides of the diaphragm have a connector to the outside of the bowls. There’s also a rod that connects to the center of the rubber diaphragm and passes through a sealing grommet. This device is shown in Figure 32.

FIGURE 32—This example of two metal bowls will be used to describe the opera- tion of a power booster.

will be used to describe the opera- tion of a power booster. The two inlet fittings

The two inlet fittings are called source 1 and source 2. The fittings on each bowl are also sealed so that air pressure or vacuum that’s applied to the fitting will end up acting against the diaphragm from that side of the bowl.

Now, let’s suppose that we place a vacuum on each side of the rubber diaphragm. What will happen to the output rod? If the vacuum is evenly applied to both sides of the diaphragm, the output rod will remain stationary. The same would occur if we applied atmospheric pressure or even air pressure to both sides of the diaphragm.

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Automotive Braking Systems

Now, let’s unbalance the pressures on the opposite sides of the dia- phragm. Let’s apply a vacuum to the left side at source 1 and air pres-

sure to the right side at source 2. In this case, the force on the output rod is equal to the pull of the vacuum on the diaphragm and the push

of the air pressure on the opposite side. The rod’s force can be very

large since force is equal to pressure times area, F=P A, as we’ve seen earlier in this text. The diaphragm offers a large surface area so even a small vacuum multiplied by this area offers quite a bit of force.

In a typical integral vacuum booster, the left side of the booster, or the

side closest to the master cylinder, always holds a vacuum. The right side of the booster’s internal diaphragm is switched between vacuum and atmospheric pressure to apply or remove booster power assist. Just as with our metal bowl example, when there’s a vacuum on both sides of the diaphragm the brakes aren’t being applied and the output rod remains stationary and doesn’t apply any pressure to the master cylinder’s pistons. When the right side of the diaphragm inside the power booster has atmospheric pressure on it, the output rod applies considerable force to the master cylinder’s pistons. A vacuum power booster basically works in the same manner. However, the vacuum power booster is more complex because of how the vacuum and at- mospheric pressure at the right or passenger compartment side of the diaphragm is controlled.

We’ve disassembled a vacuum power booster to show you the internal components. These components of the braking system are typically

sealed and are simply replaced if they fail. The disassembled booster

is shown in Figure 33.

A power piston assembly is inside the booster. When the brakes aren’t

applied, the power piston and an internal valve to the power piston are held back by springs toward the firewall. This setup causes vacuum to be present on both sides of the diaphragm inside the booster. The inter- nal valve that moves inside the power piston is called a floating control valve. It’s this floating control valve that does the switching of the vac- uum and atmospheric pressure inside the booster.

When the brake pedal is pushed, the floating control valve inside the booster moves forward into the power piston. This action causes the vacuum port to the rear of the diaphragm to be blocked off. It also al- lows atmospheric pressure to enter the rear of the diaphragm, displac- ing the vacuum. The atmospheric pressure enters the booster through the rear of the booster or the side toward the brake pedal. A silencer or

filter is used to keep out dirt and to keep the sound of the inrush of air

to a minimum. The power piston that’s attached to the diaphragm is

pulled forward against its spring pressure and causes the output push rod to move forward and move the pistons forward in the master cyl- inder. This causes braking action to occur without having the person who’s operating the brake pedal apply a lot of force.

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Automotive Braking Systems 45 FIGURE 33—These illustrations show you the internal components of a power booster.

FIGURE 33—These illustrations show you the internal components of a power booster.

When there’s enough brake action, such as when the vehicle is slowing but not stopping, the floating control valve moves backward on the inside of the power piston, closing off both the vacuum and the atmos- pheric pressure ports to the rear of the diaphragm. This action puts the power booster into a steady state of braking. As the brake pedal is

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Automotive Braking Systems

depressed harder or released, the floating control valve will move to open or close the vacuum or atmosphere control ports to tailor braking action to pedal pressure.

There’s a certain amount of pressure that’s placed back on the brake pedal to allow the vehicle operator to feel the braking force. A reaction

disc or reaction levers act upon the input push rod from the pedal as- sembly with a counterforce that’s proportional to the input force. If the vehicle operator forcefully depresses the brake pedal, as would occur

in an emergency situation, the power piston is moved forward under

atmospheric pressure assist until the input push rod is fully extended into the power piston and there’s a direct connection between the in- put push rod and the output push rod through the opposite surfaces of the power piston.

Power Booster Check Valve

A power booster needs a supply of vacuum that’s normally delivered

by the intake manifold of a four-stroke gasoline engine. The input to the master cylinder is by means of a fairly large hose and a one-way check valve. These components are shown in Figure 34.

The hose connects to a convenient place on the intake manifold of the vehicle. This location is also normally the vacuum source for many other of the engine’s vacuum circuits. The one-way vacuum check valve is normally located at the power booster (Figure 34A) but can be present in the vacuum line (Figure 34B) or at the intake manifold. The purpose of this check valve is to make sure that the greatest amount of vacuum is always present in the vacuum booster. It performs this function by closing the valve whenever the pressure in the intake manifold is higher than in the vacuum booster. Conditions such as ac- celeration can cause the pressure in the manifold to decrease below vacuum booster internal pressure.

Other Power Booster Systems

While the integral vacuum booster is by far the most popular power brake system, there are many varieties of power booster systems. For example, a diesel has no real intake manifold vacuum, so an engine- driven vacuum pump can be used to supply vacuum to a typical vac- uum booster. There are even tandem vacuum power boosters that are like two standard vacuum boosters stacked end to end. Limiting the overall diameter of the booster, two smaller-diameter diaphragms can replace one large-diameter diaphragm.

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Automotive Braking Systems 47 FIGURE 34—The check valve is a very important component of the power

FIGURE 34—The check valve is a very important component of the power booster. It’s responsible for main- taining a high level of vacuum inside the booster at all times.

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Automotive Braking Systems

In addition to standard vacuum-operated power boosters, there are also fluid-powered systems. Where vacuum systems are called integral, the hydraulic systems are called multipliers. In one such system, the power steering pump supplies pressurized fluid to a booster as- sembly that connects to the master cylinder. The operator changes the position of an internal valve that allows a power piston to be extended. This power piston forces an output push rod forward to actuate the master cylinder. These systems are often termed hydro-boost systems. In some cases, there are even combination vacuum and hydro-boost systems where the hydro-boost unit mounts on the vacuum booster and supplies additional power to the output push rod that actuates the master cylinder. This system is used in some large trucks.

One of the newer systems today uses an electric motor that’s mounted beneath the master cylinder. The purpose of this motor is to drive a vane pump that provides a very high-pressure brake fluid to a storage device called an accumulator. The accumulator stores this high-pressure brake fluid and uses it to push a power piston forward when the brake pedal triggers a valve. The power piston moves a push rod into the master cylinder to engage the brakes. When the pedal is released, a discharge valve opens and a large amount of brake fluid is dumped back into the reservoir. The electric pump can then be restarted and the system repressurized rapidly. This is often called an Electro-Hydraulic, or E-H, system and is coming into more widespread use in antilock braking systems. We’ll discuss E-H systems in another study unit.

Testing and Repairing Power Booster Systems

Most manufacturers suggest that the integral power booster unit be re- placed rather than rebuilt. Replacement is also suggested for most hydro-boost and E-H systems. However, there are a number of tests that can be performed to make sure the power booster itself has failed and that the problem isn’t outside the booster.

Typically, when a problem occurs at the power booster, the vehicle owner complains that pressing the brakes requires excessive force. Usually, the problem gets worse over time. This problem, if it’s within the booster housing, is usually caused by a blocked inlet filter or silencer, a faulty floating control valve surface, or a diaphragm leak. The power booster may not be receiving the proper amount of vacuum due to the following conditions:

A cracked vacuum line

A faulty vacuum check valve

A leak in the grommet where the check valve enters the booster

A lack of sufficient vacuum from the engine

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49

Using a vacuum gauge at the inlet of the vacuum booster, you can check these problems. The vacuum gauge should show a minimum reading of 15 inches of mercury, 15 in. Hg, or 50 kPa. If the reading is below this point, the power booster won’t operate properly, and you’ll have to repair the problem before performing other tests.

If there’s sufficient vacuum, listen carefully for a leak in the booster.

Start the vehicle, and let it run for a few minutes. Shut off the engine

and listen near the hose, check valve, and grommet for a vacuum leak.

A leak will sound like a faint hiss. While the power booster is still

charged with vacuum, go to the inside of the vehicle and apply the brakes. You should get at least two applications of the brake pedal under power assist before the internal vacuum is equalized. Less than two applications usually indicates a leak in the system. While the

booster is in this depleted condition, start the engine while applying a downward pressure on the brake pedal. If the floating control valve

is operating properly, the pedal should drop slightly toward the floor.

The pedal should also feel easier to apply. If these conditions don’t exist after the vehicle is started and vacuum reaches the booster, you should replace the booster.

Replacing a Power Booster

The replacement of a power booster isn’t a difficult task. The first step

is to disconnect the master cylinder from the power booster by remov-

ing its two retaining bolts. If the master cylinder isn’t being replaced,

you can usually gently pull it away from the power booster and secure

it to the vehicle using plastic wire wraps or wire. With the master cyl-

inder removed, you can remove the vacuum line to the booster and the linkage that connects the pedal to the input push rod. When these components are disconnected from the integral power booster, you can remove the four nuts that hold the booster to the firewall and remove the power booster from the vehicle. In some cases, the master cylinder comes with the power booster as an assembly and it’s a good idea to replace both items as a unit. In this case, you can simply remove the two brake lines from the master cylinder and leave the master cylinder on the booster and remove both as a package.

Installing the new booster is a matter of tightening the bolts that hold the booster to the firewall, tightening the master cylinder to the power booster, and installing the vacuum line and the pedal linkage. If the brake light switch was removed to gain access to the pedal linkage, it should also be replaced.

With the system complete, start the vehicle and perform the typical power booster and brake checks. Look for leaks at the brake lines and make sure that the brake lights work when the pedal is depressed.

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Automotive Braking Systems

Hydro-boost units are normally tested by measuring hydraulic pres- sure at the booster unit. You must open the system and insert special T fittings into the lines.

You can then measure hydraulic system pressure and compare it to those readings in the service manual. Normally, the power source for the system is the power steering pump. If you’re having pump pressure or volume problems, you’ll also be having power steering problems.

Some of the most important tests you can make are fluid level tests at the power steering pump, and a visual inspection of all of the hoses and pipes in the system. Leaks must be repaired since they cause fluid loss as well as pressure loss. A pressure leak is easy to spot; fluid will be all over the engine compartment.

Typically, components that are faulty are changed rather than repaired. In addition, if a component is changed, the system can simply be topped off with fluid. The system can then be run to eliminate air as it’s self-bleeding.

Now, take a few moments to review what you’ve learned by complet- ing Self-Check 3.

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Automotive Braking Systems 51 Self-Check 3 Fill in the blanks in each of the following statements.

Self-Check 3

Fill in the blanks in each of the following statements.

1. The section of the master cylinder that holds the unpressurized brake fluid is called the

2. Master cylinder bodies are normally made of

or

3. The port inside the master cylinder that allows fluid to return to the area above the master

cylinder is called the

port.

4. The piston in the front of a fast-fill master cylinder is used for the

brakes.

5. The front side of a power booster, or the side toward the master cylinder, is always kept at

a condition.

6. The internal valve that switches the vacuum and atmospheric pressure inside the booster is

called a

control valve.

Check your answers with those on page 105.

DISC BRAKE SYSTEMS

Many of the vehicles of the 1950s and 1960s used four wheel-drum brakes. These systems used single- or dual-master cylinders. In most cars of that time, all four wheels held plain drums. Performance cars used finned drums.

Drum brakes, however, presented several different problems. First, they retained water, which caused large amounts of brake fade during rainstorms or after going through a puddle. Second, they didn’t easily get rid of heat and would also fade going down long hills or after re- peated hard stops. Finally, their braking distances were much longer than disc brakes. In order to remove these problems with drum brak- ing systems, disc brakes were developed.

The concept of disc brakes shouldn’t be difficult to understand. Think about a rotating bicycle wheel. If you wanted to stop the bicycle, you could use a drum brake at the axle. However, most bicycles simply squeeze both sides of the rim to stop the bicycle. A disc brake system operates in this same manner. This is shown in Figure 35.

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Automotive Braking Systems

FIGURE 35—This illustration shows you a side view of a typical disc brake system.
FIGURE 35—This illustration
shows you a side view of a
typical disc brake system.

Rotors

The rotor section of the disc brake system is attached to the axle or spindle. The rotor is either driven or allowed to freely rotate. The rotor often has threaded studs on which the wheel is mounted and bolted. Some rotors are simple plates that slip over the threaded studs, which are a part of the hub assembly. Rotors are made of steel that’s machined to very close tolerances. There are single and double rotors. Double rotors normally have cooling fins between the rotor sections. In some cases, these fins are directional, making a rotor usable on only one side of a vehicle.

While the rotor is allowed to turn, the caliper is held stationary. When pressurized brake fluid enters the caliper, the fluid presses outward on the piston. This action, in turn, applies the brake pads against the rotor.

Advantages of Rotors Over Drums

Disc brakes offer many advantages over drum brakes. First, the swept area, or the area of metal that’s in contact with the brake’s friction material during one revolution of the rotor, is about 30 percent greater than the area swept by the shoes in a drum brake. Second, the rotor is located in the air stream behind the tire. This position allows the rotor and the

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53

caliper to cool more efficiently than a drum brake. Cooling prevents brake fade. Next, a disc brake won’t be as affected by dirt or moisture as a drum brake since the pads are located very close to the rotor; the

pads constantly clean the rotor. Disc brakes allow the vehicle to stop in

a straight line, even after one side of the vehicle has gone through a

puddle. The centrifugal force, the force pushing out from the center, of

a spinning rotor also throws off any impurities that land on the rotor, keeping dirt out of the braking system.

Heat is typically an enemy of a drum brake system. Heat expands the drum, which causes a greater space between the shoes and the drum.

If a disc brake rotor heats and expands, it only presses harder into the

brake pads. This isn’t to say that too much heat can’t hurt a disc brake

system. Too much heat at the pads can cause the pads to lose friction. Excessive heat can actually alter the material of the pads and render them inefficient. If this occurs, the pads must be replaced.

The main disadvantage to disc brakes is that they can be noisy. This problem can often be remedied by a spray- or brush-on material that’s placed at the back of the pads, or by using antirattle hardware. An- other disadvantage is that disc brakes often coat the outside hubcaps or exposed wheels with dark or reddish-brown brake dust that must be periodically cleaned.

Still, disc brakes are the brakes of choice by all modern car and light truck manufacturers. Somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of the stopping force of a vehicle is concentrated on the front wheels and the front braking system of a vehicle. Since most vehicles are now front- engine, front-wheel drive vehicles with a major proportion of the

weight at the front of the vehicle, you can understand why disc, rather than drum, brakes are selected. Disc brakes can be used on the front of

a vehicle to provide the braking forces needed to easily stop today’s

vehicles within the distances specified by the government. Front drum brakes wouldn’t meet these specifications without the use of high- friction and, therefore, high-wear materials.

Calipers

There are many different types of caliper assemblies. Most of the disc brake systems used on our cars are single-piston, floating-caliper sys- tems, such as the one shown in Figure 36. These systems are rather in- expensive to build, are light, and can easily provide the braking forces needed for most of our cars and light trucks.

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Automotive Braking Systems

54 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 36—This is a disc brake system that’s on a front-wheel drive

FIGURE 36—This is a disc brake system that’s on a front-wheel drive automobile.

In this system, the caliper is mounted to the spindle by means of pins,

bolts, or other such retainers. The caliper is a simple device that con- tains a pressure chamber and a piston that is sealed by means of O- rings or special seals and an exterior boot. When brake fluid pressure

is applied, the piston is pushed out of the caliper. Once the inboard, or

piston-side, pad strikes the rotor, the caliper then moves in the direc-

tion opposite of the piston to bring the outboard pad into contact with the opposite side of the rotor. The caliper, therefore, floats or moves against the movement of the piston.

A disassembled caliper is shown in Figure 37. You can see that few parts

are used in its construction. The piston is surrounded by one or two O- rings or, in this case, a seal that’s square in cross section to keep the pres- surized fluid from escaping behind the piston. The special seals flex with the outward motion of the piston, then pull the piston back into the caliper when fluid pressure is reduced to relieve the brake pad’s pressure on the rotor. This type of system can retract the pistons far enough that a quick- take-up, quick-fill, or step-bore master cylinder is required to move the piston quickly toward the rotor once the brakes are applied. While the pis- ton applies force against the pad and rotor, the caliper body is connected

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Automotive Braking Systems 55 FIGURE 37—A caliper actually contains few components. There are the piston, the

FIGURE 37—A caliper actually contains few components. There are the piston, the seal, the caliper housing, the bushings, and retaining bolts.

to the spindle via the retaining bolts but can still translate by sliding along the bushings.

The pistons used in brake calipers are typically made of steel or alumi- num. Some systems have used phenolic pistons. The caliper is normally made of cast iron but can also be made of various alloys. A weather boot protects the area between the piston and the caliper from dirt and water. Usually, when this boot fails, the area between the piston and the bore of the caliper will corrode and the piston can stick in its forward position. This problem can cause the brakes on that wheel to remain engaged even after the brake pedal has been released.

The brake pads used in a floating caliper are shown in Figure 38. These pads fit neatly into the caliper. Sometimes antirattle springs or pads are used to control brake noise. The pads are rated as to their friction capabilities, using the code letters that were covered in the second sec- tion of this study unit. You’ll normally want to make sure you use a similar friction rating on the pads that you replace. If the rating is too low, the vehicle will take too long to stop. If the rating is too high, the pads and the rotor can prematurely wear.

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Automotive Braking Systems

56 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 38—This disc brake is at the rear of a midsize front-wheel

FIGURE 38—This disc brake is at the rear of a midsize front-wheel drive vehicle.

There are also two other types of calipers in use today. These types are the sliding and the fixed calipers. Sliding calipers are typically used on light trucks. These calipers fit into slots that are machined into the spindle anchors.

Fixed calipers are the largest and most powerful of all disc brake systems. In a fixed-caliper system, the caliper is rigidly mounted to the vehicle’s suspension. The caliper is centered over the rotor. There are one or more pistons in each side of the caliper half. All of these pistons are pushed forward to apply the pads to the rotor. Heat transfer between the caliper and the suspension is the greatest of all other caliper designs, and the multipiston system can apply a large amount of braking force. These systems are used on all race cars and on many expensive sports cars.

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The Friction Material

Earlier in this study unit, we displayed a table of friction material rat- ings and their code letters. If you look at a new set of pads, one of these code letters will be displayed on the side of the friction material. You’ll note that premium friction materials will have a higher rating than budget materials.

There are a wide variety of friction materials from which you can choose. The best choice is premium-grade linings since they’re care- fully constructed of better materials. On inexpensive pads, you can often see chunks of nonblended materials, and you’ll see quick wear

of the material or the rotor.

There are many different types of friction materials used as brake linings. For example, the oldest type of lining is called the organic lining. This lining uses ingredients such as carbon and aluminum; organic and inorganic friction materials such as rubber and talc; asbestos fibers; and a phenolic resin as a binder. Normally the bag or box these linings come in will have a large letter “A” or “a” on it to symbolize that asbestos in included in the product.

Now, there’s also a nonasbestos friction material that substitutes syn- thetic materials for the asbestos. These materials typically use aramid fibers instead of asbestos and are often called synthetic or nonasbestos pads.

There’s also a series of friction materials called semimetallic pads. The friction material of these pads uses many different types of metallic powders along with ceramic powders, graphite or carbon powders, and phenolic resins. These pads offer long wear and good friction.

Rear Disc Brake Systems

Although rear drum brakes are usually sufficient to stop our modern lighter vehicles, disc brakes are often used on the sportier or heavier vehi- cles. These rear disc brakes offer all the advantages of front disc brakes but are slightly more complicated than the front disc brakes. They’re more complicated because the caliper must include a parking brake capability.

A typical rear disc brake system is shown in Figure 38.

There are two methods commonly used to create a rear parking brake system when the vehicle has disc brakes. The first is to have a lever at the rear of the caliper. When the parking brake cable is pulled, the lever turns a ramp device that applies pressure on the back of the cali- per piston or on the inboard brake pad itself. This force causes the brake pads to be pushed against the caliper. However, since the brake pads themselves are small compared to the area of brake shoes, disc

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Automotive Braking Systems

brake parking brakes of this type are somewhat weaker compared to drum parking brakes. A second type of rear disc brake parking brake system uses a small area of the rotor near the axle as a drum and mounts parking brake drum shoes inside this area. The disc brakes operate from the master cylinder while the drum brakes operate from the parking brake lever.

Inspecting Disc Brake Systems

The inspection of a disc brake system should include at least three steps. The first step is a visual inspection of the brake lines to the cali- pers. Check for wear or abrasion, and look for signs of cracks and leaks. You may need to slightly flex the rubber hose to inspect it for cracks. These cracks will normally appear at the point on the hose where the bend is the sharpest.

The second inspection is of the rotor. The rotor surfaces should be smooth and free of scratches or other defects. The rotor shown in Figure 39 has manufacturing defects that have caused the back surface of the rotor to break away. This rotor must be replaced.

FIGURE 39—This rotor is badly damaged. Poor steel was used in the manufac- turing of the rotor.

rotor must be replaced. FIGURE 39—This rotor is badly damaged. Poor steel was used in the

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In many cases, you’ll find that the vehicle operator has driven the vehi- cle with the pads worn down to an unacceptable level. If the vehicle is driven with worn brake pads, the rotor can be scored or grooved. In this case, the rotor can be measured and if it’s thick enough, it can be turned on a brake disc lathe and returned to service. There are two basic types of disc-brake lathes. One is a bench- or stand-mounted unit that requires the rotor be removed from the vehicle. The other lathe actually attaches to the vehicle and can cut or resurface the rotor on the vehicle. Make sure the rotor is thick enough to allow it to be cut yet remain above the minimum thickness limit. Using a micrometer, you can check the thickness of a rotor at the center of the swept area in two or more places.

The final step is to check the brake pads themselves. The brake pads should never be less than 1 8 " for bonded linings, and there should be at least 1 16 " of brake material above the rivets on a pad with riveted fric- tion material. Often you’ll see a wear groove in the pad material that can be used as an indicator. Usually, the cost of new brake pads is small enough that, if they’re worn halfway or more, you should replace them. Although there’s an inspection hole in the top of most calipers, the best way to inspect the pads is to remove the caliper from the rotor and carefully look at the pads. You should also look at the pad for physical damage and cracked or tapered friction linings. Tapered linings are often caused by weak or worn mounting hardware. It’s a good idea to always change the mounting hardware whenever you change brake pads. This hardware can come with the replacement brake pads or can be purchased separately.

the replacement brake pads or can be purchased separately. Besides the wear dimensions, there are a
the replacement brake pads or can be purchased separately. Besides the wear dimensions, there are a

Besides the wear dimensions, there are a number of other methods of determining brake pad wear. In some systems, there’s a small piece of metal, known as a wear indicator, attached to the brake pad. This compo- nent is shown in Figure 40. When the pad wears down enough, this metal bar will rub against the rotor, causing a loud squeal each time the brakes are applied. There are also electric contacts buried within the friction material of some pads. When the friction material wears down enough to expose the contact and the contact touches the metal rotor, the contact is grounded. A signal is sent to the dashboard brake- warning lamp or to the antilock brake system computer.

Servicing Disc Brake Systems

In this section, we’ll look at how to replace the pads and rotors of a front-wheel drive vehicle. Normally, this is an easy task that can be performed in a matter of about 15 minutes. However, you want to make sure that the job is done properly since the safety of your customer is at stake.

60

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60 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 40—One of the most common indications of wear on a rotor

FIGURE 40—One of the most common indications of wear on a rotor is a small section of metal that normally rides well away from the surface of the rotor when the pads are new. When the pad material wears enough, the metal strike will hit the rotor, resulting in a loud squeal each time the brakes are applied.

The caliper on this vehicle is held to the anchor points by means of two large Torx head bolts shown in Figure 41. Some vehicles use Allen bolts, or another type of bolt. You can also see the brake hose and banjo fitting that connect to the caliper to bring pressurized brake fluid to the caliper. The banjo fitting is a square block with a bolt hole passing through its cen- ter. You’ll often find them used with flexible brake lines. In the back- ground, you can see the constant velocity joint, or CV joint boot, and the speed sensor ring that’s used in the antilock braking system.

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Automotive Braking Systems 61 FIGURE 41—In this illustration, you can see the two mounting bolts that

FIGURE 41—In this illustration, you can see the two mounting bolts that hold the caliper to the anchors.

To remove the caliper, you remove these two Torx bolts. Once these two bolts are removed, you can simply pull the caliper from the two anchor points. With the caliper removed, you can pry the two brake pads from the caliper using a small screwdriver and a small amount of force. Figure 42 shows a caliper with the pads removed.

In this caliper, the outboard pad, or the one away from the piston, is pried up from the caliper while the inboard pad is pried out from the caliper piston. The retainers that hold the pads in the caliper and pre- vent vibration are the only things you must defeat to remove the pads. With the pads removed, you can see the boot that protects the piston. Also, you can see how far the piston has traveled forward to compen- sate for pad wear. The bottom of the mounting bolts and the bushings on which the caliper moves are shown in this illustration.

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62 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 42—With the bolts loosened, the caliper can be lifted off the

FIGURE 42—With the bolts loosened, the caliper can be lifted off the spindle. The pads can then be removed from the caliper. If you need to set the caliper down for any reason, don’t hang it by the brake hose. In- stead, tie it up with a wire or place it in a secure location as shown here.

The backsides of the new disc brake pads are shown in Figure 43. Note how there are antirattle springs on both the inboard and the outboard pads. These springs will help you retain the pads in the caliper during its installation and will keep the pads from making noise when the brakes are applied. You can also tell that these are bonded brake pads since you can see some of the brake material from the back of the pads. If these were riveted pads, you’d see the backs of the rivets. The wear indicator can also be seen on the right side of the lower or outboard pad.

Some brake pads have the friction material slightly offset on the metal or backing plate of the pad. This offset is used to compensate for the different pressures that can appear on a brake pad when the brake pedal is applied. This offset is used to help prevent uneven pad wear, usually in the form of a taper from the front to the rear of the pad. Make sure to note if the pad material is offset and to install the pads in the proper locations if this offset exists.

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Automotive Braking Systems 63 FIGURE 43—This photograph of the back of the brake shoes shows the

FIGURE 43—This photograph of the back of the brake shoes shows the antirattle springs that fit into the piston and across the outside of that caliper.

Before we install the new pads, we must retract the piston into the caliper. On non-antilock vehicles, you can simply use a C-clamp or piston-retracting tool to apply light pressure to the piston to retract it back into the caliper. On newer antilock braking systems and on vehicles with aluminum calipers, it’s a good idea to open the bleeder screws and allow some of the brake fluid to escape. In the case of an antilock system, you don’t want dirt to be pushed up into the system where it can cause valve failure. In the case of aluminum calipers, you want to lubricate the surface of the bleeder screw every so often to make sure it doesn’t become bonded to the caliper.

With the piston retracted, you can install the inboard pad into the caliper and press it into the caliper to seat it. You can then slip the outboard pad into position. This procedure is shown in Figure 44.

Note how the clips on the outboard pad extend out and seat on the outside of the caliper. The clips on the inboard pad will have pressed into the center of the piston. In the background, you can see that the piston has collapsed back into the caliper. You can also see one of the two bolts that hold the caliper to the spindle anchor.

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64 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 44—This illustration shows the pads clamped to the outside of the

FIGURE 44—This illustration shows the pads clamped to the outside of the caliper and seated into the piston.

The next step in the repair of this disc brake system is to remove the disc or rotor. In the case of this front-wheel drive vehicle, the rotor will easily come off of the hub with a gentle tug. The wheel’s lug nuts are used to hold the wheel and the rotor on the front hub.

In some front-wheel drive vehicles, the disc or rotor is retained to the hub with two or more retaining bolts. These retaining bolts must be removed before you can remove the disc or rotor.

There are many reasons to replace the vehicle’s rotor. In some cases, the rotor may be warped. A warped rotor usually results in a steering wheel that moves side to side when the brakes are applied. The amount of runout can be checked by placing a dial indicator against the rotor and then slowly spinning the rotor through one or more complete turns. In the case of a rotor that’s retained by the lug nuts, these lug nuts must be replaced and tightened to normal torque values before performing this test. The amount of total runout that’s allowed by the manufacturer should be listed in the service manual for the vehicle.

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In Figure 45, the rotors have shallow grooves across the surface. Not only was this rotor grooved, but it also had some runout, resulting in a pulsating pedal and steering wheel movement upon heavy braking. Light grooves can usually be removed by turning the rotor on a brake lathe or an on-vehicle lathe. Heavier grooves usually mean that the ro- tor will need to be replaced since turning the rotor to the point where the grooves are gone will result in an undersized rotor.

the grooves are gone will result in an undersized rotor. FIGURE 45—This rotor has light grooves

FIGURE 45—This rotor has light grooves across its surface. It’s too thin to be cut or ground and must be replaced.

Another reason to remove and replace a rotor is due to physical damage to the rotor. In some cases, the rotor can have a crack across its surface. There can also be problems with the metal, such as the rotor shown in Figure 46. This rotor has voids in the steel from which the rotor was cast. These voids created open holes in the rotor surface. Also, the edges of the rotor were soft, resulting in the outside edge of the rotor chipping away. This problem reduces the swept area and, therefore, the braking efficiency.

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Automotive Braking Systems

66 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 46—Here is a close-up of the defective rotor in Figure 39.

FIGURE 46—Here is a close-up of the defective rotor in Figure 39. Note that the metal has pulled out of the rotor, leaving a hole. You might also see chips and cracks form on some rotors.

On rear-wheel drive vehicles, the front disc brake rotor is more diffi- cult to remove and replace since the rotor is suspended between two tapered roller thrust bearings. Usually, the bearings can be cleaned, repacked with grease, and reused.

To remove a rear-wheel drive vehicle’s front rotor, you should perform the following steps:

Remove the dust cup that covers the outer bearing. To pry off the cup, you can use a small screwdriver or a specially designed tool to grip the cup without damaging it.

Remove and discard the cotter pin that goes through the castle nut.

Loosen the castle nut and remove it from the spindle.

Remove the rotor.

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67

Remove the inner and outer bearings, clean and inspect them, and repack them with grease if they can be reused.

Place the inner bearing onto the rotor, being sure to use a new grease seal.

Install the new rotor with the new outer races onto the spindle.

Install the outer bearing, washer, and castle nut on the spindle.

Tighten the castle nut lightly and spin the rotor.

Retighten the castle nut.

Loosen the castle nut until the first hole in the spindle lines up with the castle nut and insert a new cotter pin through the nut and spindle. Bend the cotter pin to make sure the nut can’t come loose.

Clean the rotor surface of any grease or fingerprints.

Install the caliper and the wheel.

Test drive the vehicle.

Disc brake pads can also fail. For example, a pad can become so hot its composition can change and its braking force can be reduced signifi- cantly. Usually, the pad will have cracks on its surface such as the one shown in Figure 47.

One common form of irregular pad wear is taper wear. Taper wear

is usually caused by more pressure affecting the front of the friction

material compared to the back of the friction material. Some specialty

motorcycle and racing calipers now use multiple piston calipers and

have the pistons increase in size from the front of the caliper to the rear

of the caliper or in the direction of rotation. This design is to combat

this form of taper wear.

A second form of taper wear that can occur is shown in Figure 48.

Here, the caliper is at an incorrect angle to the rotor. The friction mate- rial on the pad will wear in an irregular way from the top to the bottom

of the pad. While a slight amount of this type of irregular taper wear is

common, if the taper can be seen, you should replace the hardware on which the caliper mounts. Usually, you’ll get the bushings and bolts or

pins and these new mounting components to help keep the caliper in line with the rotor.

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Automotive Braking Systems

68 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 47—This brake pad suffered from overheating and the friction material cracked.

FIGURE 47—This brake pad suffered from overheating and the friction material cracked. Of course, these pads were replaced.

FIGURE 48—One cause of tapered pad wear is when the mounting hardware is worn and the caliper is no longer held straight against the rotor.

of tapered pad wear is when the mounting hardware is worn and the caliper is no
of tapered pad wear is when the mounting hardware is worn and the caliper is no

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Completing the Brake Repair Job

A completed repair job is shown in Figure 49. The new rotor has been mounted on the hub, and new brake pads have been placed in the caliper. The caliper bolts have been tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications. You can also see a light layer of brake grease that has been placed on the anchor points where the pads and the caliper will rub.

the anchor points where the pads and the caliper will rub. FIGURE 49—This is the completed

FIGURE 49—This is the completed repair job on the disc brake assembly. Notice the new rotor, the new brake pads, and a light film of brake grease on the anchor points where the caliper and pads rest.

To complete the disc brake repair job, you should replace the wheel and properly torque the lug nuts. You should also check the level of fluid in the master cylinder and apply the brakes a few times to make sure the brake pedal travel is normal. Finally, test drive the vehicle, and check the operation of the brakes and listen for any unusual noises. Also, check the ability of the vehicle to stop in a straight line. Correct any problems before returning the vehicle to its owner.

Now, take a few moments to complete Self-Check 4.

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Automotive Braking Systems

70 Automotive Braking Systems Self-Check 4 Indicate whether each of the following statements is True or

Self-Check 4

Indicate whether each of the following statements is True or False.

1.

Centrifugal force causes impurities to be thrown from a spinning rotor.

2.

Today’s calipers typically use two pistons in each caliper.

3.

A weather boot protects the area between the piston and the caliper from dirt and water.

4.

The most powerful type of disc brake system is the fixed caliper system.

5.

A warped rotor usually results in a steering wheel that locks when the brakes are applied.

6.

All taper wear is due to loose mounting hardware.

Check your answers with those on page 105.

DRUM BRAKE SYSTEMS

For many years, the drum brake system was used on all four wheels of cars and trucks. On many of today’s cars and light trucks, drum brakes are still used at the rear wheels of the vehicle where less braking force is required than at the front brakes. The drum brake system uses a dual- piston hydraulic cylinder to push outward on two brake shoes to create braking force. These shoes are, for the most part, stationary and press against a rotating drum. A drum brake system is shown in Figure 50 with the drum in place on the axle.

There are basically two different types of drum brakes. There is the nonservo and the servo, or self-energizing drum brakes. The non-servo drum brake is shown in Figure 51A. This brake system has two shoes called the leading and trailing shoe. The leading shoe is in front of the direction of rotation, and the rotation helps pull the shoe into better contact with the drum. This shoe is said to be self-energizing because the friction is used to slow the drum and to help the shoe create additional force on the drum by means of this friction. The trailing shoe, however, operates in a different manner. The trailing shoe doesn’t gain additional braking force by means of friction. Instead, the friction actually pushes the shoe away from the drum. The trailing shoe is a non-self-energized brake shoe. In this system, the leading shoe is usually much larger than the trailing shoe.

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Automotive Braking Systems 71 FIGURE 50—This is a brake drum mounted on the rear axle of

FIGURE 50—This is a brake drum mounted on the rear axle of a rear-wheel drive vehicle.

The dual-servo, or self-energized, drum brake system is shown in Figure 51B. In this system, the force applied to the primary or forward shoe helps press it into the drum. However, since this shoe isn’t permanently at- tached or restrained at the bottom of the drum brake assembly, it can be used to apply a force on the trailing shoe. This additional force can be used to increase braking pressure with a smaller hydraulic force applied by the wheel cylinder.

Most drum brake systems use the dual-servo or self-energizing system of mounting the brake shoes. The wheel cylinder, which is basically a double-piston cylinder, mounts to the top of the brake assembly and is used to spread the brake shoes and force them into contact with the drum. Various springs are located inside the brake drum in order to hold the shoes in place, to pull the shoes together, and to keep them from contacting the drum when the brake pedal is released. At the bottom of the assembly, a star wheel adjuster and a spring or lever hold the adjuster in position. The rest of the components are part of the parking brake system.

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Automotive Braking Systems

FIGURE 51—There are two basic kinds of drum brake systems, the nonservo (Figure 51A) and the servo (Figure 51B) brake systems.

(Figure 51A) and the servo (Figure 51B) brake systems. A typical drum brake system is shown

A typical drum brake system is shown in Figure 52. This is the rear

brake assembly that’s used along with a disc brake system at the front

of the vehicle. This system is being used with a front-wheel drive vehi-

cle but could also be used with a rear-wheel drive vehicle.

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Automotive Braking Systems 73 FIGURE 52—This illustration shows the configuration of the rear drum brakes on

FIGURE 52—This illustration shows the configuration of the rear drum brakes on a modern vehicle. Before work is done on these brakes, they must be cleaned.

The hydraulic brake component of this system is the wheel cylinder. Brake fluid is sent under pressure to the wheel cylinder when the brakes are applied. Inside the wheel cylinder, two pistons oppose each

other. There’s also an internal spring with its cup expanders, which are used to keep the outside sealing surfaces of the cup seal in against the bore of the cylinder at all times. This design helps prevent the seal edge from collapsing and allowing fluid to flow past the pistons and into the interior of the brake assembly. The bore of the wheel cylinder

is protected by two rubber boots, one at each end of the cylinder. These

boots are used to keep dirt and water from reaching the cylinder. They aren’t meant to keep brake fluid in the wheel cylinder. If you perform

a drum brake inspection and the area around or under the boot is wet,

the wheel cylinder will need to be repaired or replaced. Two push rods exit the pistons and are used to apply pressure to the brake shoes.

The rear of the wheel cylinder contains a threaded port to which a brake line can be connected. There’s also a bleeder screw that can be opened to release trapped air or old brake fluid from the system. A typical brake cylinder is shown in Figure 53.

74

Automotive Braking Systems

74 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 53—This is a typical wheel cylinder used to spread the brake

FIGURE 53—This is a typical wheel cylinder used to spread the brake shoes on a drum brake system.

When pressurized fluid enters the brake or wheel cylinder, the pres- sure expands the cup seals, which, in turn, press on the pistons. The pistons transfer this force to the push rods and then to the brake shoes. When the brake fluid pressure is released, the return springs in the brake assembly are responsible for returning the pistons and the rest of the brake assembly back into their retreated position.

The shoes themselves are mounted to the large rear plate called a backing plate. On this backing plate, there are raised areas called shoe ledges. There are typically three ledges for each shoe and these ledges are wide enough to support the shoes through their total travel into and away from the drum. It’s important that these ledges receive a small amount of high-temperature or brake grease whenever the brake shoes are replaced. There are typically two small brake shoe retainers that hold the shoes to the backing plate. These retainers consist of a specially shaped rod called a nail, a spring, and a retainer. These can be installed or removed with a special brake spring removal tool or a set of slip-joint pliers.

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75

The bottom section of the brake assembly contains the adjuster that keeps the brake shoes close to the inside diameter of the brake drum. This adjuster is a star wheel that has many points. The star wheel is mounted on a fine-thread screw. This screw turns into and out of a col- lar that fits into one of the shoes. The opposite side of the star wheel screw is a post that fits into a second nonthreaded collar. This collar mounts into the leading or primary shoe. When there are new brake shoes and a new drum in the drum brake assembly, the star wheel as- sembly is fully screwed into the threaded collar. As the friction linings and the inside of the drum wear, the adjuster is turned to spread the bottom section of the shoes. This keeps the shoes in a position that’s close to the drum surface through their useful life. The adjuster mecha- nism is usually triggered automatically when the brakes are applied and the vehicle is moving backward. Some adjusters use cables that are attached to the secondary brake shoe as shown in Figure 54. Other systems use levers and other such devices that rely on the motion of the secondary shoe to transmit motion to a lever that moves the star adjuster. If the star adjuster is tight enough, the lever will skip over the star wheel and not cause the brakes to bind. Some vehicles rely on the setting of the parking brake to create the motion that moves the star adjuster.

brake to create the motion that moves the star adjuster. FIGURE 54—In this illustration, you can

FIGURE 54—In this illustration, you can see the star wheel and the brake-adjusting linkages and levers.

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Automotive Braking Systems

The star wheel should be replaced whenever you see that it has rounded edges. Also, when replacing brake shoes, make sure to apply a light coating of high-temperature or brake grease in the threads of the star wheel screw and at the washers that separate the star wheel from the end collars. This procedure will allow free operation of the star wheel.

One additional component of the rear drum brake assembly is the strut rod, which fits between the brake shoes near the top of the assembly. In addition, there’s a stop post on which the tops of the brake shoes rest. There’s also a guide plate that covers the shoes and allows them to move off the post yet remain captured in that area so that they’ll return to the post once the brake pedal is released.

Drum Brake Maintenance

All forms of inspection and repair require the drum be removed from the axle. Often this drum is tightly bonded to the axle hub and is diffi- cult to remove. However, there are certain procedures you can use to make this task easier.

First, always remember that there will be brake dust and possibly asbestos dust inside the brake drum. For the safest repair, always use a vacuum system or a wash down system to remove the dust before working on the internal components of the drum brake system.

Once the vehicle is safely supported and the tire and wheel are re- moved, you can begin to remove the drum. The first step is to remove the small plug that covers the adjustment hole at the rear of the back- ing plate. This hole is shown in Figure 55.

In most cases, the plug is made of rubber and can be easily pried from the backing plate by using a small screwdriver. In other cases, the backing plate will have knock-outs that must be broken loose to gain access to the adjuster. Later you can plug the hole with a rubber or plastic plug.

Once the adjusting hole is open, you can use a brake spoon to move the brake shoes back from the drum. This tool is shown in Figure 56. The shoes must be backed away from the drum because they typically wear an area of the drum away each time the brakes are applied. This wearing will cause a ridge to be formed on the outer edge of the drum or the edge toward the backing plate. As the shoes are adjusted out- ward, they’ll be trapped behind this ridge and will keep the drum from being removed until the shoes are backed away.

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Automotive Braking Systems 77 FIGURE 55—In order to remove the drum, you’ll have to remove the

FIGURE 55—In order to remove the drum, you’ll have to remove the plug and gain access to the star wheel inside the drum. This hole is shown here.

FIGURE 56—A brake spoon is used to back off the ad- justment so that the brake drum can be removed and the brake system in- spected. The brakes must be adjusted backward since they typically wear the drum so that a small ridge exists on the edge of the drum. The shoes will get caught on this lip as you try to pull the drum from the backing plate and shoes.

the edge of the drum. The shoes will get caught on this lip as you try

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Automotive Braking Systems

In some cases, you’ll need to use a screwdriver in the hole to lift up on the star wheel spring or retainer. In this case, the star wheel can simply be rotated until the drum can be removed. Of course, other systems use a wedge or other device in place of the star wheel adjuster. These must also be accessed through the backing plate, and adjusted, before the drum can be removed.

Again, drum removal can sometimes be a difficult task, especially if the drums haven’t been removed for quite some time. Their surface seems to bond with the surface of the axle hub. Often, you can use a large dead blow hammer and strike between the studs while rotating the drum. Striking the outside edge of the drum or the rear of the drum may damage it. Be patient when performing this task. Rotate, strike, rotate, strike, and sooner or later the drum will break free. When you’re ready to remove the drum, be sure to capture any brake dust that may enter the air.

With the drum removed and the dust problem attended to, you can begin to inspect the system. First, look at the drum. In Figure 57, the drum displays minor scoring. A measurement reveals that it’s smaller than the maximum diameter, and readings across the drum at differ- ent places don’t reveal warping of the drum. This drum can be reused.

don’t reveal warping of the drum. This drum can be reused. FIGURE 57—The inside of this

FIGURE 57—The inside of this brake drum displays small grooves and other little wear. Provided that measurements show the diameter isn’t over limits or severely warped, this drum can be reused.

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79

The next place to inspect the system is at the top post where the top of the shoes, the wheel cylinder, the springs, and the adjuster cable are lo- cated. This area is shown in Figure 58. In this case, the springs and the cable are in good condition. Both shoes are also seated on the post. If the leading or trailing shoe isn’t seated on the post, look for a misad- justed parking brake or a stuck parking brake cable as the problem. You must also inspect the wheel cylinder for leaks. To do this inspec- tion, you must slightly pull the boot to inspect behind the boot on each side of the wheel cylinder. In some cases, however, the leakage will be apparent because you’ll see brake fluid running down the backing plate and on the shoes and other components of the system. Any sign of dampness is cause for alarm, and its source should be identified and repaired.

Dampness can also come from a leaking seal on the axle of a rear-wheel drive vehicle. This axle grease can get on the brake friction surfaces, creating a wheel lockup condition. This problem must be repaired before the brake system can be serviced.

must be repaired before the brake system can be serviced. FIGURE 58—This view shows the top

FIGURE 58—This view shows the top section of a drum brake system.

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Automotive Braking Systems

The next area to inspect is the star wheel adjustment assembly. This as- sembly is shown in Figure 59. The star wheel assembly, along with the mechanism that turns it, is responsible for keeping the brake shoes in a position that’s close to the brake drum surface. In this system, if the trail- ing shoe moves an excessive amount, it will move the lever against the star wheel and cause it to ratchet forward one increment, bringing the shoes closer to the drum. The lever keeps the star wheel from moving backward. In some other systems, the lever only moves the star wheel forward. There’s a spring that holds the star wheel in position. This is the spring that must be raised with the screwdriver when you’re using the spoon to back off on the brake shoe star wheel adjuster.

the spoon to back off on the brake shoe star wheel adjuster. FIGURE 59—This view shows

FIGURE 59—This view shows the lower section of the drum brake system. This area contains the main adjust- ment device for the brakes, the star wheel.

You should look for a rounded-out star wheel that can’t be advanced by the adjusting lever. Also, look for a damaged lever, broken cable or spring, seized threads on the collars, and so forth. When replacing these components, make sure to apply a light layer of high-temperature or brake grease to the threads of the star wheel assembly and to the wash- ers on this assembly.

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81

The final inspection points are at the parking brake mechanism and the adjustment mechanism. Look for signs of abuse or damage, and make sure all levers can pivot properly. The parking brake lever that presses out on the trailing shoe should be slightly loose when the park- ing brake isn’t applied.

In Figure 60, you can also see one of the two shoe retainers. If the up-

per shoe retainer washer is pressed inward and rotated 90 degrees, the retainer will come off of the nail and free that brake shoe. The nail can also be cut, since it will normally be replaced with the other brake

hardware when the shoes are replaced.

with the other brake hardware when the shoes are replaced. FIGURE 60—In this illustration, a brake

FIGURE 60—In this illustration, a brake spring tool is used to remove a brake spring.

Replacing Brake Shoes

A brake spring tool makes for easy spring removal. The end of the tool is

placed over the post and then rotated to capture the end of the spring and lift it off the post in a single easy motion. Once the top of the spring

is lifted from the post, the bottom of the spring can be removed from the

hole in the shoe. The use of pliers, diagonals, and vise grips should be avoided since they can nick the spring and weaken it. A brake spring tool is being used to remove one of the two springs in Figure 60.

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Automotive Braking Systems

After the top two springs are removed, the two small retainers can be removed from the bottom section of the shoe. A special tool is available to remove the outer retainer. You can also use a pair of slip-joint pliers. Often, you’ll have to hold the back of the nail at the outside of the back- ing plate while you push in on the retainer. With the two retainers, you’ll next need to remove the adjustment and parking brake linkages. With these items removed, you can spread the top of the shoes and re- move them along with the bottom star wheel adjusting assembly.

With the brake shoes and all of their retainers removed, you should be careful not to let the pistons come out of the wheel cylinder. A small C-clamp can be used to hold the pistons in the cylinder.

Next, you should perform a careful inspection and cleaning of the back- ing plate. Place a small amount of high-temperature or brake grease at the points where the shoes contact the backing plate on the shoe ledges.

If the wheel cylinder is leaking, it will normally be replaced as a unit. You should be aware that most modern wheel cylinders use a special bore that can’t be honed. This bore is created at the time of manufac- turing by pushing a very hard ball bearing through the bore of the wheel cylinder. This bends over the grain of the metal and creates a very hard and smooth surface. If you were to hone the bore, you would actually soften and destroy its surface grain structure.

Some older wheel cylinders can be honed, using a tool such as the one shown in Figure 61. This tool is placed in an electric drill or drill press and the wheel cylinder is moved in and out quickly over the turning stone to create the crosshatch pattern on the bore of the wheel cylinder. The wheel cylinder can then be rebuilt using a parts kit.

The wheel cylinder can then be rebuilt using a parts kit. FIGURE 61—A wheel cylinder hone

FIGURE 61—A wheel cylinder hone is used to refinish the inside bore of a wheel cylinder with a crosshatch pattern so that the new cup seals will grip the cylinder walls.

The internal components of a wheel cylinder are shown alongside the cylinder in Figure 62. Wheel cylinder repair kits normally include the cup seal, spring, cup expanders, and boots. If the pistons are damaged, you’ll need to replace the wheel cylinder.

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Automotive Braking Systems 83 FIGURE 62—These are the internal parts of a wheel cylinder. Note that

FIGURE 62—These are the internal parts of a wheel cylinder. Note that this wheel cylinder uses the outer windings of the center spring as cup expanders.

The drum brake system can then be rebuilt by using new shoes and new hardware. The first step is to place a new star wheel adjuster across the bottom of the shoes. The top of the shoes can then be spread and placed over the axle hub. If there is a strut rod between the shoes, the rod should be installed at this time. The shoes can then be seated against the top post, and the guide plate placed over the post to keep the shoes in position. You may need to slightly compress the pistons in the wheel cylinder to seat the shoes. At this time, you can install new nails, springs, and retainers to hold the shoes to the backing plate. If one of the retainers holds the adjusting or parking brake lever mechanism, make sure to reinstall that hardware before you install the retainer.

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Automotive Braking Systems

The next step is to install the cable for the adjuster, if present, followed by the two large springs. These springs can be difficult to install. How- ever, if you use the brake spring tool as shown in Figure 63, the instal- lation goes much easier. Here, the slot on the end of the bar is pressed against the post and the spring is captured around the post. As the bar is lifted, the spring will slide down the bar and be captured by the post.

spring will slide down the bar and be captured by the post. FIGURE 63—This is how

FIGURE 63—This is how to replace brake springs. You should never use vise grips or diagonal pliers for this purpose because you may nick and weaken the springs.

Be sure to check all the components before reinstalling the drum. Access the star wheel, and rotate it so that the shoes are just beginning to touch the inside surface of the drum. There’s another special brake tool used to measure the inside diameter of the drum. Transfer this dimension to the outside of the shoes as you adjust the star wheel. This tool resembles an inside and an outside caliper that is combined into one instrument that’s arranged back to back.

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Most replacement shoes are formed at such an angle that they’ll match the inside angle of the drum. In some instances, some brake shops will cut the linings on a machine so that these angles will match perfectly.

When you finish adjusting the star wheel, bleed the brakes, if neces- sary, and install the tire and wheel and tighten the lug nuts, according to manufacturer’s specifications. Check the level of the brake fluid in the master cylinder and add or remove fluid if necessary. Test drive the vehicle, and make sure the vehicle stops correctly with no pulling or pulsation of the pedal.

Finally, check the parking brake pedal free travel. If there is significant parking brake pedal travel, the parking brake system must be adjusted. This adjustment is necessary in order to make up for the stretching of the parking brake cables over time, and for the wear of the rear brake shoes.

The adjustment of the parking brake system normally occurs at the yoke or equalizer. This component is located beneath the car or truck and will have to connect the one single cable from the parking brake pedal or handle to the two cables leading back to the rear drum or disc brake assemblies.

The adjustment takes place at the equalizer, at the point where the single main cable attaches to the equalizer. There are usually two nuts that are loosened and then adjusted to leave a small amount of slack in the cable when the parking brake pedal or lever is not actuated. Once the adjustment is complete, the nuts are tightened and the parking brake pedal or lever travel is checked against the manufacturer’s specifications.

Now, take a few moments to review what you’ve learned by complet- ing Self-Check 5.

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Automotive Braking Systems

86 Automotive Braking Systems Self-Check 5 Fill in the blanks in each of the following statements.

Self-Check 5

Fill in the blanks in each of the following statements.

1. The two types of drum brake systems are the

and the

2. The

return the pistons of the wheel cylinder back to their retreated positions inside

the bore of the wheel cylinder.

3. Brake shoes are mounted against a large plate called the

4. A brake spoon is used during the servicing of the rear brakes to back off the

5. All forms of inspection and repair require the drum to be removed from the

6. When removing the drum, you can use a large studs while rotating the drum.

Check your answers with those on page 105.

to carefully strike between the

BRAKE SYSTEM VALVES AND BRAKE LINES

We’ve already covered many of the components of brake systems; however, there are more important parts of this system. This section covers brake system valves and brake lines. On most vehicles, there are a wide variety of brake system valves and different types of brake lines. Remember, we’re only discussing standard braking systems, not antilock braking systems that contain many additional components.

Over the years, there have been many different types of valves used on automotive and light truck braking systems. These valves have per- formed the functions of controlling either the pressure and/or the flow of pressurized brake fluid to the front or rear brakes. In some cases, you can think of them as digital switches that turn the flow of fluid on or off. In other cases, you can consider them analog controls such as the volume control on your TV or radio, and these valves control the amount of fluid flow.

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Residual Pressure Valves

One of the earliest valves was the residual pressure valve. This valve was present either in the outlet of the master cylinder or inside the bore of the cylinder on the section(s) that applied fluid to drum brakes. The purpose of a residual pressure valve was to maintain a small fluid pressure in the drum brake system of 6 to 20 psi any time the brake pedal was released. This pressure kept the edges of the cup seals tight against the inside bore of the wheel cylinders, preventing the fluid from leaking out of the cylinders and air from entering the system.

The residual pressure valve was last used around 1970. Instead of a residual pressure valve, a set of cup seal expanders and a spring, or a spring that has cup expanders shaped from the coils of the spring, is now used to keep the seal edges out against the bore.

Metering Valves

The next advance in braking systems valves came with the metering valve. The metering valve has been used to balance the operation of the front and rear brakes on vehicles that have front disc and rear drum brakes. The metering valve holds off the operation of the front disc brakes until there’s a slight application of the rear brakes. This is due to the large amount of travel the pads must make to contact the drum versus the small amount of travel the pads on the disc brakes must make to contact the rotor. The metering valve can be thought of as a two-stage valve. It therefore has three modes of operation. These three modes are shown in Figure 64. The first mode (Figure 64A) displays the brakes not being applied. In the second mode (Figure 64B) the brakes are being applied lightly. Finally, in the third mode (Figure 64C) the brakes are being heavily applied.

In Figure 64A, the main piston is seated by means of the pressure that’s applied by the larger spring. The small center valve is held open so that fluid can flow through the center of the piston. This function allows the fluid to maintain a constant low pressure throughout the system from the master cylinder to the calipers.

When the brakes are applied lightly, the small valve will close against the larger piston as shown in Figure 64B. This valve will remain closed against the larger piston as the pressure of the brake fluid increases up to about 75 psi. This function keeps the front brakes from being applied until the rear brakes have reached a pressure of about 75 psi in their brake lines and wheel cylinders.

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Automotive Braking Systems

FIGURE 64—Shown here are the three phases of opera- tion of a metering valve.

88 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 64—Shown here are the three phases of opera- tion of a
88 Automotive Braking Systems FIGURE 64—Shown here are the three phases of opera- tion of a

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89

When the pressure of the brake fluid reaches over 75 psi, the larger piston is pushed off of its seat to allow a flow of fluid to the front brake calipers. At this time, all of the vehicle’s brakes are in operation, as shown in Figure 64C. The small valve is still closed against the surface of the piston, but the larger piston has opened to create the flow of pressurized fluid.

When the brake pedal is released, the large piston will once again seat against the inside of the valve and block fluid flow. The smaller valve inside the piston will open and allow the brake fluid to flow back to the master cylinder.

The end of the valve comes to the outside of the valve and is called the valve stem. This stem is either pressed or pulled out when you bleed the brakes. Failure to pull out the stem will cause the metering valve to remain closed, and no fluid will flow from the bleeder screws on the front calipers. This is because there won’t be enough pressure to push the large piston off its seat and open the path to the front calipers. To move the valve, you must either press or pull the stem. On the valve shown in Figure 64, you would pull on the stem to unseat the large piston. However, in some metering valves, the stem exits out the oppo- site side of the housing. In this case, the stem is covered with a rubber boot and must be pressed in when bleeding the brakes.

Metering valves are rarely used alone on today’s vehicles. These valves are used on rear-wheel drive cars. Today, front-wheel drive cars are more popular; in these cars, you want more braking to occur with the front disc brakes without the delay a metering valve creates. Also, most front-wheel drive vehicles now use diagonally split braking systems, which require at least two metering valves to properly control the front brakes.

Most modern rear-wheel drive vehicles use a valve called a combination valve that incorporates a metering and a proportioning valve in one housing.

Proportioning Valves

The metering valve we just looked at works somewhat like a switch. When the pressure from the master cylinder is less than 75 psi, the valve (switch) is off. When the pressure increases above 75 psi, the valve (switch) turns the flow on. Proportioning valves operate in a different manner. A proportioning valve works more like a water spigot. The more you turn the handle on the spigot, the more flow you’ll get out of the spigot.

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Automotive Braking Systems

Let’s look at what we need in a modern brake system. We have a front-wheel drive vehicle that has disc brakes in the front. In the rear, there are drum brakes. When we are simply slowing the vehicle, there’s no reason we can’t apply full pressure to all of the brakes on the car or light truck. However, as we increase the pressure on the brake pedal, we want more of the braking force on the front brakes. This is because the greatest braking forces are located at the front wheels due to the weight transfer of the vehicle to the front wheels during braking. Also, we don’t want to lock up the rear wheels, which are now becom- ing lighter as the weight travels forward. Finally, as we press harder on the brake pedal, we want even more of the braking force on the front wheels and less on the rear wheels as more of the vehicle’s weight travels to the front wheels of the vehicle.

The proportioning is responsible for this braking operation. The inside of the valve includes a tapered bore, and the valve itself has a tapered stem. The inside of the valve closely resembles a metering valve, ex- cept that the tapered hole in the piston and the tapered shape at the end of the valve work to control the flow of fluid based upon the pres- sure in the system. Three views of a proportioning valve in operation are shown in Figure 65.

The proportioning valve in Figure 65A displays a valve that has a small amount of pressure entering the valve. The fluid is allowed to flow through the valve to the rear brakes. When the pressure reaches a point called the split point, the proportioning valve will close and not allow the pressure in the fluid to the rear brakes to increase. This action is shown in Figure 65B. As the brake pedal is pressed further, the end of the valve strikes the inside of the valve. The pressure on the piston increases and causes the piston to move to the right, opening up the center of the pis- ton as shown in Figure 65C. The amount the valve opens depends upon the pressure in the rear brake system and the pressure being delivered by the master cylinder. The flow through the valve depends upon how far the piston moves down the tapered valve.

As you probably can imagine, the proportioning valve springs must be custom selected for the vehicle in which they’re used. Never substitute a proportioning valve from another vehicle unless it’s made for that vehicle. In fact, even modifying a vehicle can affect the operation of the proportioning valve.

Some proportioning valves are separate devices. For example, a modern front-wheel drive vehicle with a split-diagonal braking system might have four outlet ports on the master cylinder. A proportioning valve will then be present in two of the master cylinder’s outlets, both of which supply the rear brakes. In some cases, the proportioning valve will be a separate unit. This valve will typically look like a small cylin- der and will be present in the rear brake line.

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91

FIGURE 65—This is how a proportioning valve operates.

Automotive Braking Systems 91 FIGURE 65—This is how a proportioning valve operates.
Automotive Braking Systems 91 FIGURE 65—This is how a proportioning valve operates.
Automotive Braking Systems 91 FIGURE 65—This is how a proportioning valve operates.

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Automotive Braking Systems

One other common type of proportioning valve is a valve that mounts above the rear axle of the vehicle. A lever arm or spring connects the valve to the rear axle of the vehicle, normally near the rear differential. The lever or spring operates a cam inside the proportioning valve. This cam, in turn, controls the position of the valve or plunger that’s inside the proportioning valve.

This height-sensitive proportioning valve monitors the height of the rear end of the vehicle and controls the position of the plunger, and, therefore, the flow of brake fluid to the rear brakes. If the rear end of the vehicle is at normal height, the flow of brake fluid will be larger than if the height of the rear end increases. Once the rear end of the vehicle lifts, the plunger moves inside the valve to limit the flow of brake fluid to the rear brakes.

Combination Valves

The most common system for vehicles built before antilock brake systems uses a combination valve that includes a metering valve, a proportioning valve, and a pressure differential switch in one housing. A typical combination valve is shown in Figure 66.

A typical combination valve is shown in Figure 66 . FIGURE 66—A combination valve contains a

FIGURE 66—A combination valve contains a metering valve, a pressure differential switch, and a propor- tioning valve in one unit.

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93

A combination valve offers a simple one-package solution to having

multiple valves and their interconnecting piping. To the left side of the combination valve is the metering valve with its valve system. A pressure differential switch is in the center of the combination valve. This switch monitors the pressures on both the forward and the rear outlets of the master cylinder. If the pressures are different, usually due to failure of one of the systems, the switch is grounded. This signal will light the brake warning light on the dashboard of the vehicle. The right side of the valve contains the proportioning valve that’s used to apply the proper amount of fluid pressure to the rear brakes.

Pressure Differential Switches

A pressure differential switch is present as a safety device on all modern

vehicles that use standard braking systems. The purpose of this device is

to warn the vehicle operator when there’s a problem with the brake

system.

A basic cutaway view of a pressure differential switch is shown in

Figure 67. There are basically two different types of pressure differential valves. One is spring centered and the second type is self-centering.

In either case, the switch contact is basically just a simple electrode that

extends down into the switch body. The spool at the center of the switch

is kept centered by the pressure of the brake fluid. When there’s a dif-

ference in these pressures, the spool will move to the side of the lower pressure, causing the electrode to touch the metal valve and ground the warning lamp circuit. In the case of a spring-centered pressure differential switch, the warning light will go when the brake pedal is released. In the case of the self-centering switch, the spool will have shifted its position and will have to be manually reset before the warn- ing light goes out.

FIGURE 67—This illustration shows how a differential pressure switch operates.

before the warn- ing light goes out. FIGURE 67—This illustration shows how a differential pressure switch

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Automotive Braking Systems

The pressure differential switch must be the first component the brake fluid reaches after it leaves the master cylinder. If the pressure differen- tial switch is placed downstream of a proportioning or metering valve, the switch would trigger at each application of the brake pedal. In most cases, the differential pressure switch is located in the center of the combi- nation valve. However, some newer master cylinders have differential pressure switches included as a component of the master cylinder.

You may also see another type of pressure switch on some systems. This pressure switch is used to light the brake lights when there’s pressure in the front or rear brake lines. This switch can be a piston or spool that moves against spring pressure into a stationary electrode or the switch can have a spring metal disc that’s deformed by the pres- surized brake fluid and makes contact with a stationary electrode.

Troubleshooting Valve Problems

Most modern metering, proportioning, and combination valves will last for the life of the vehicle. They won’t require maintenance or re- placement under normal conditions. However, some proportioning valves can be adjusted. This adjustment might be necessary if there have been changes in the suspension, tires, or if a major component of the drive train has been altered.

The best way to test the brake system valves is to perform a road test with the vehicle. Look for signs that the front or rear wheels are lock- ing up or aren’t operating at all.

The service manual will give you the exact methods of testing each type of valve. Typically, pressure gauges are connected into the vari- ous brake circuits, and pressure readings are taken as the brakes are applied. In the case of a rear-axle-mounted proportioning valve, you may need to jack up the back of the vehicle to simulate the weight transfer of the vehicle.

Brake Lines

There are basically two types of brake lines used in automotive and truck brake systems. These types are the steel brake line and the reinforced rubber brake hose. Plastic, brass, copper, and other such materials should never be used as brake line at any location in the system. The old phrase that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link fits well here. The brake system is only as safe and as secure as the weakest pipe, fitting, hose, or connector in the system.

The majority of the brake lines in a vehicle are made of a copper-steel alloy. These lines are made in at least two layers in order to be seamless. Here, the material is folded in one of three different ways to prevent a seam, which would present a weakness in the line.

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95

When the vehicle is manufactured, the brake lines are held tightly to the vehicle’s chassis to keep them from vibrating and to protect them from damage by small stones and other such debris that can pass by the bottom side of the vehicle. Whenever you replace a brake line, make sure to carefully bend it and route it in exactly the same locations as the original line.

There are two different types of flares used on brake lines. These two types are the SAE inverted double flare and the newer ISO flare. These flares are shown in Figure 68. The SAE inverted flare has been used on vehicles for many years. Automotive manufacturers are quickly adopt- ing the newer ISO flare.

FIGURE 68—These are the two types of brake line flares that are used on modern vehicles. They aren’t interchangeable.

are used on modern vehicles. They aren’t interchangeable. You can make a flare in brake tubing

You can make a flare in brake tubing using a copper tubing flaring tool. However, this is a single flare and isn’t considered strong enough to hold the 8,000 psi burst pressures at which brake systems are tested. Your brake system will never reach this level of pressure; it’s only a test pressure that the SAE uses to test steel brake lines. Special flaring tools are available to make both the SAE inverted double flare and the ISO flare. If you’re going to make your own brake lines, you’ll need these tools. Never use simple compression fittings since these fittings can’t hold brake system pressures.

Steel brake line can easily be bent by using a small pipe bender. One other method that’s commonly used is to hold an old pulley in a vise and bend the new brake line over the pulley. When bending a new line, first remove the old line and then bend the new one to perfectly

96

Automotive Braking Systems

match the old line. You can then install the new line in the same rout- ing path and use the original clamp locations to hold the brake line to the chassis. New brake line comes with flares and fittings on each end. It’s available in a wide variety of lengths. The service counter where you get or purchase brake line can normally give you the length of brake line you’ll need for a certain vehicle. These lengths will be straight lengths and you must bend them accordingly.

One unusual section of brake line exists between the master cylinder and the vehicle. The steel brake line is typically bent into a series of cir- cles or into what looks like a large spring. This bending is done inten- tionally to allow motion between the master cylinder and the vehicle without stressing the brake line. Any motion between these items will simply expand or compress the spring and not fatigue the brake line.

In some cases, you’ll see a spring wound around the brake line, as shown in Figure 69. This spring is used to protect the brake line from impacts from small stones and other debris. Make sure that if you replace this type of brake line that the new brake line has this spring on it to continue this protection.

line has this spring on it to continue this protection. FIGURE 69—This brake line is surrounded

FIGURE 69—This brake line is surrounded by a spring so that the line can’t be damaged.

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97

A good inspection of a brake line should be performed whenever

you’re working on a brake system. Look for signs of rust, kinks in the line, and leaks. Replace any line that shows any sign of failure.

Brake Hose

The way suspensions move up and down and the way wheels and their rotors and calipers can turn side to side makes getting the brake fluid to the calipers or wheel cylinders a problem. Stiff coil steel line soon fatigues after repeated cycles of motion.

In areas where motion exists, reinforced rubber brake line is used. A

typical piece of brake line is shown in Figure 70. This brake line connects a fitting that is secured on the frame with the front wheel caliper. The other side of the fitting connects to the brake line that comes from the master cylinder or combination valve.

that comes from the master cylinder or combination valve. FIGURE 70—This is a rubber hose that

FIGURE 70—This is a rubber hose that connects a metal line to a wheel caliper.

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Automotive Braking Systems

The hose itself is made of many layers. Typically, these alternating lay- ers are those of rayon threads and synthetic rubber. The inside layer is made of rubber covered with alternating layers of rayon fabric, rubber, rayon, and finally an outer coating of thick rubber. In some cases, the outer rubber surface will contain raised ribs used to help prevent abra- sion from wearing through the hose.

The ends of the hose contain the fittings that connect to the caliper and the brake lines together. These fittings are normally swaged on to the hose at both ends. Swaged means that the fittings are slid over the hose and have an internal section that goes up into the hose. The outer sleeve is then compressed around the hose at high pressures and captures both the rubber hose and the inside portion of the fitting to provide a leakproof seal. The ends of the fitting can be either threaded or banjo style. In some cases, the one end of the hose is screwed into the fitting as the hose is rotated. The opposite end of the fitting could then be screwed and tightened into the caliper. In either case, there are one or two sealing washers that are usually made of copper that should be replaced with new sealing washers whenever you loosen or change brake hoses.

Most modern brake hose comes with one or more white stripes down the side of the hose. It’s important that this stripe be considered by the technician whenever he or she is installing brake hose. This line should be seen on only one side of the hose after it has been installed. The white line shouldn’t rotate around the hose. If the line rotates, the hose is twisted, indicating that is hasn’t been properly installed.

Rubber brake lines should be inspected at least once each year. Look for signs of cracking in the outer casing. This cracking will normally appear first at the point where the hose has the tightest bend. Also, look for leaks or signs of wear or abrasion. If you see any of these problems, replace the hose to keep the brake system safe.

Rubber brake hose is also found in the rear brake system. Figure 71 shows a brake system that uses rubber hose to provide a flexible con- nection from the vehicle’s frame to its axle. In this example, metal brake line is routed from the master cylinder to the rear of the vehicle. Here it connects to a flexible rubber hose. Note that the connection point is supported by a frame-mounted bracket (Figure 71A). From this point the rubber hose is routed to a distribution block which is mounted on the rear axle. Flexible metal lines provide a pathway for brake fluid to travel from the distribution block to the rear brake cylinders.

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99

Automotive Braking Systems 99 FIGURE 71—Shown is a rear rubber brake line at a bracket and
Automotive Braking Systems 99 FIGURE 71—Shown is a rear rubber brake line at a bracket and

FIGURE 71—Shown is a rear rubber brake line at a bracket and at the rear axle.

100

Automotive Braking Systems

There’s one unusual problem that a flexible rubber brake hose some- times causes. A vehicle may exhibit a front caliper that’s locked up after the brakes are applied. After the vehicle sits a few minutes, the lockup

is usually cured until the brakes are applied the next time. If this occurs,

a small section of the inner lining of the hose has broken free and is

acting like a flap or check valve. When the fluid is flowing toward the caliper, the flap is pushed down, allowing the brakes to be applied. When the brake pedal is released the flap is pushed up into the inner bore of the hose and acts as a check valve blocking fluid flow back to the master cylinder. Since it isn’t a perfect check valve, the fluid will slowly leak back to the master cylinder, allowing the wheel to turn freely once again.

There’s also the problem where brake lines expand during the applica- tion of the brakes and then collapse as the brake pedal is released. In most cases, this simply results in slight pedal travel. There are special rubber hoses manufactured that limit this expansion. These hoses will be marked with an HL to show that they have a low expansion capability. In racing applications, steel-braided hoses with Teflon® cores are used.

Bleeding the Brakes

There are many different reasons to bleed the brakes on a vehicle. You may have changed a component and allowed air to enter the system. The system may have picked up air; since air is compressible, the brake pedal will feel some resistance at first, then travel downward until the air is compressed, feeling solid once again. This situation is referred to as spongy pedal. Then, of course, the brake fluid could be old and have absorbed dirt and water along with corrosion and wear particles from the system itself. The normal color of brake fluid is clear to a light amber. Dark brake fluid should be replaced.

The first step in bleeding the brakes is to raise the vehicle and remove the wheel that’s farthest from the master cylinder at the rear of the ve- hicle. You can then open the master cylinder after cleaning the cover with a clean rag. Using a squeeze bulb, remove any brake fluid from the master cylinder to keep any old fluid from entering the system. Fill the master cylinder with clean fluid.

There are three basic ways to bleed the brakes on a vehicle.

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101

When the brake pedal is down, the bleeder nut is closed and the brake pedal is allowed to return to the top of its travel. This proce- dure is continued until clear, clean fluid exits the hose that’s at- tached to the bleeder nut. It’s also a good idea to place a spacer, such as a wood block, on the floor beneath the brake pedal to limit the travel of the piston in the master cylinder to the area it nor- mally travels in. Without the block, the pistons could travel much farther forward than normal into dirt and contamination, damag- ing one or more seals.

2. Pressure bleed method. In this method, a pressure tank that contains brake fluid is connected to the top of the master cylinder reservoir, and a bleeder nut is opened. The pressurized fluid pushes clean fluid through the system and out of the open bleeder screw.

3. Vacuum bleed the system. In this method, a vacuum pump is at- tached to the bleeder screw by means of a hose, and brake fluid is pulled through the system and through the pump into a collection tank. When clear fluid appears in the hose, the pump is stopped and the bleeder screw is tightened.

Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. The first method requires the use of an assistant and also requires that you keep a care- ful eye on the level of fluid in the reservoir. The second method re- quires that you hook up properly to the top of the master cylinder. Be very careful since the pressure bleeder will typically operate at a pres- sure of about 30 psi and a leak could spray fluid onto the body of the vehicle. The vacuum system also requires that you keep a careful eye on the level of brake fluid in the reservoir.

Whenever bleeding the brakes you should, at minimum, bleed the pas- senger side, rear and front brakes. Doing so will clean out the largest part of the system and will clean out both master cylinder sections. The best practice is to bleed all wheels, cleaning out the total system.

In most cases, bleeder screws on neglected vehicles are very difficult to open. Often, the screw will feel like it’s just starting to turn, then break off at the wheel cylinder or caliper. In the case of a wheel cylinder, you normally just replace the wheel cylinder, an inexpensive component. The costs of extracting the remains of the bleeder screw are typically more than replacing the cylinder. In the case of a caliper, you also may want to just replace the caliper since the extraction process may be more expensive than the caliper itself. However, there are also repair kits that can help you with this problem.

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Automotive Braking Systems

Whenever you bleed the brakes, make sure to use clean brake fluid from a sealed container. In most brake shops and garages, the brake fluid is used regularly and larger-sized containers can be purchased. For the small shop or home mechanic, smaller containers should be purchased to keep the fluid in its freshest condition.

Also, whenever you’re bleeding the brakes of a vehicle that’s equipped with a metering or combination valve, you’ll need to pull out or push in on the stem of the metering valve. Even the pressure of a pressure bleeder isn’t sufficient to overcome the 70 psi release pressure of the metering valve. By pulling out or pushing in the stem, you open the valve to the free flow of fluid from the master cylinder to the caliper. Special tools are available to pull or push the stem. These tools are simple clips that connect to the combination or metering valve. Remem- ber, if the stem is open, it must be pulled. If the stem is covered with a boot, it must be pressed.

Now, take a few moments to review what you’ve learned by complet- ing Self-Check 6.

Automotive Braking Systems

103

Automotive Braking Systems 103 Self-Check 6 Indicate whether each of the following statements is True or

Self-Check 6

Indicate whether each of the following statements is True or False.

1.

A residual pressure valve is used to maintain a low pressure level in the rear drum brake system when the pedal is released.

2.

A metering valve holds fluid pressure from reaching the rear wheel cylinders until the front brakes are partially applied.

3.

Metering valves are rarely used alone on today’s vehicles.

4.

Proportioning valve springs don’t have to be custom selected, enabling them to be used interchangeably on any vehicle.

5.

The two types of pressure differential switches are spring-centering and self-pressurizing.

6.

Brake hose is made of many alternating layers of rayon fabric and synthetic rubber.

Check your answers with those on page 105.

105

Self-Check Answers

1 1. line, tubing 2. brake bar or brake spoon
1
1. line, tubing
2. brake bar or brake spoon

3. C-clamp

4. depth micrometer

5. runout, dial indicator 6. asbestos 2
5. runout, dial indicator
6. asbestos
2

1. static

2. band

3. created

4. rotor

5. two years

6. HSMO

3 1. reservoir 2. cast steel, aluminum
3
1. reservoir
2. cast steel, aluminum

3. compensating

4. rear

5. vacuum

1. True

2. False

3. True

4. True

5. False

6. False

4
4
5
5

1. servo, nonservo

2. brake shoe return springs

3. backing plate

4. adjuster

5. axle

6. dead blow hammer

1. True

2. False

3. True

4. False

5. False

6. True

6
6
ONLINE EXAMINATION For the online exam, you must use this EXAMINATION NUMBER: 00403001 When you’re

ONLINE EXAMINATION

For the online exam, you must use this

EXAMINATION NUMBER:

00403001

When you’re confident that you’ve mastered the material in your studies, you can complete your examination online. Follow these instructions:

1. Write down the eight-digit examination number shown in the box above.

2. Click the Back button on your browser.

3. Click the Take an Exam button near the top of the screen.