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Problem:

Applying a “parts changing” approach to fixing a brake problem.

Cause:

Not using the correct diagnostic techniques to pinpoint the actual cause of the problem.

Solution:

Most problems being diagnosed will have more than one possible cause. The use of the process outlined on page 6 will be the first step in successful diagnosis. Once the list of possible causes has been established the next step in the process involves finding which one is at fault.

An effective technique to determine which of the possible causes is the actual one is to use the symptoms associated with each possible cause to either move it up the list or down the list. Most conditions have related symptoms. These symptoms are an effective tool when used properly.

The best way to demonstrate this is through the use of an example. The example we will use involves a RWD vehicle experiencing fast pad wear on one side not the other. Both inner and out brake pads on one side are wearing much faster than the pads on the opposite side as shown in

Both brake pads one side

Using the diagnostic approach outlined on page 6 we would end up with the following list of possible causes:

  • Sticking caliper piston on side with pad wear problem
  • Check valve brake hose on side with pad wear problem
  • ABS modulator not allowing fluid release on side with pad wear problem
  • Restricted brake hose on side opposite the side with the pad wear problem
  • Hydraulic restriction higher than brake hose on side opposite side with pad wear problem

If we take the same list and add the symptoms each condition would generate we have the following:

#

Condition

Symptom

1

Sticking caliper piston on side with pad wear problem

Wheel drag

2

Check brake hose on side with pad wear problem

Wheel drag

3

ABS modulator not allowing fluid release on side with pad wear problem

Wheel drag

4

Restricted brake hose on side opposite the side with the pad wear problem

Pull to side with pad wear

5

Hydraulic restriction higher than brake hose on side opposite side with pad wear problem

Pull to side with pad wear pattern

Armed with the list above, the first step in any diagnosis would be a test drive. A test drive would allow for a check for a pull and make sure the brakes are at operating temperature. This could be important in duplicating the drag associated with items number 2 & 3.

TIP

Using the technique of looking for supporting symptoms is one of the most effective diagnostic techniques available.

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