Are you a Technician or Part Changer?

Are you a Technician or Part Changer?

Brake Technician

Vs.

Part Changer

Problem:

What happens when you diagnose a problem by trying to throw parts at the car to fix it instead of diagnosing the issue correctly? Does this happen in your shop with some of your technicians? What is your customer’s reaction when this happens?

Cause:

The majority of people servicing brakes have obtained most of their knowledge on the job. While hands on experience is sometimes the best teacher, it cannot always provide the knowledge that is necessary to understand the inner workings of the various brake parts and systems. Without this understanding, accurate diagnosis can be extremely difficult if not impossible.

Solution:

In the eyes of most technicians and consumers, the brake system is relatively simple. Disc brakes in the front and drum or disc brakes in the rear. “Throw” a set of pads on it and it will be fine. This oversimplification of the brake system leads to many of the problems that are encountered. 

The brake system is a complex system. It has many components which are dependent upon one another to function properly. The key word is “system”. They work together to stop the vehicle. When one part of the system is not working properly, then other parts of the system will be affected. There is a direct relationship between how good a technician is and how much they know about how each part in the system works.

Accurate brake system diagnosis depends on having a clear understanding of:

How does each part work?

What can go wrong?

What will that cause?

Many technicians servicing brake systems do not have a good enough handle on the first point listed above, how each part works. Without this the technicians will be faced with replacing parts to try and correct a problem. This is the definition of a “parts changer”. Brake technicians have a clear understanding of each part in the system and how it relates to the overall system operation. This gives them the ability to understand what can go wrong with the part and what it will cause. They use this in applying a logical approach to the diagnosis of the various brake problems they encounter.

Technicians must constantly seek out new sources of information. These tips and blog posts are examples of where to get the kind of information necessary to allow accurate diagnosis of many different brake problems. Other resources include trade publications, seminars, webinars, and the internet (many resources here with YouTube, Facebook, Automotive Forums, etc…). With the constant advancement of vehicle technology, the learning process will never be over. We hope that you will keep coming back for our Tech Tips Blog Posts.

Are you selling a “Phony Flush?”

Are you selling a “Phony Flush?”

Are you selling a “Phony Flush?”

Changing Brake Fluid is an important service for the safety and longevity of our vehicles. However, it can be difficult to determine when the right time is to change the fluid. Many service centers offer a “Phony Flush” by recommending an un-needed service.  Or they send customers home without properly diagnosing worn out brake fluid which does need to be changed.

Common unethical methods used to validate a need for changing brake fluid:

Looks Dirty

Rubber brake lines and fittings will often discolor brake fluid in a brand new vehicle. Changing brake fluid based upon color is too subjective and unethical. This includes using bottles, trays and paper to show the color of the brake fluid.

Smells Bad

I don’t believe many of us know what brake fluid should or should’nt smell like. The smell is surely not a good reason to change brake fluid.

Has Moisture

Moisture does not equal boiling point. Most brake fluid with up to 3% moisture will Not fail a boiling point test. There is No standard for changing brake fluid based upon moisture content. Moisture pens are known to fail brand new brake fluid.

Because I Say So

We realize there are master mechanics with an unlimited amount of knowledge, however science can now take the subjectivity out of a recommendation. It is time to get up to speed with today’s testing technology and make a proper recommendation.

Valid and ethical reasons to change brake fluid:

Intervals

Different vehicle manufacturers have different intervals for changing brake fluid. Most Ford, Chrysler and GM models have No interval for brake fluid, while most European and many Asian manufacturers have an interval of somewhere between 15K to 24K miles. Making a recommendation to change brake fluid based upon an OEM service interval is a valid reason for service.

Boiling Point

Moisture does not equal boiling point. The best method for testing the boiling point of brake fluid is to use a boiling point analyzer. The DOT FMVSS standards state that DOT 3 brake fluid should not boil below 284° F. On average less than 4 % of vehicles on the road will have a boiling point below 284° F.

Copper Testing

Using copper testing technology to determine when to change brake fluid has become the most used and recognized standard to determine when to change brake fluid. Up to 50% of vehicles on the road today have enough copper corrosion in their brake fluid to keep them from passing the DOT FMVSS corrosion test. Testing brake fluid copper levels is part of the AMRA EUICS standards and helps a shop comply with the Automotive Repair Act of California. Copper testing brake fluid is also part of the inspection process for Firestone, GoodYear, Monro, Tire Kingdom, Jiffy Lube, Pep Boys, AAA and many other service centers.

Recommending a brake fluid service based upon copper content in brake fluid will:

 #1 Deliver the most ethical and legal method to determine when to change brake fluid.

#2 Provide a much greater level of opportunity than any other test.

#3 Give a better experience for the customer to see and understand why they should change their brake fluid.

Click Here to learn more about copper testing brake fluid.
Brake Service Done Right with Brake Fluid Test Strips

Brake Service Done Right with Brake Fluid Test Strips

Brake Service Done Right with Brake Fluid Test Strips

Problem:

One of the major problems and concerns with servicing brake fluid is the issue of customers returning to the service center because the job wasn’t done correctly. Not only is this a huge problem for the customer, but it’s a problem for the service center. Avoid this problem by using brake fluid test strips.

Cause:

The root cause of this problem can be traced to not having the proper tools to make sure the brake fluid was tested and changed properly.

Solution:

Brake fluid test strips are designed to make services center more efficient, and increases customer satisfaction with their brake service. The Brake fluid test strips made by Phoenix systems are called BrakeStrip.

BrakeStrip is a 60-second test that identifies serious brake system problems before they occur – thereby ensuring your customers’ safety while earning their trust and loyalty. BrakeStrip also uses Motorist Assurance Program (MAP) guidelines for brake fluid test results. Plus, BrakeStrip is recommended by manufacturers like Bendix Brakes and Raybestos. No other brake fluid test finds bad brake fluid as often as BrakeStrip.

Learn more about BrakeStrip.

How to use brake fluid test strips:

Show customers you really stand behind your work, and use BrakeStrip to give them proof that their brake service was done right. BrakeStrips are easy to use. First dip the BrakeStrip into the brake fluid.

Next compare the brake fluid test strips to the color chart. Then change the brake fluid, re-test and provide the customer with the brake fluid test strips and result card. This will set the customers mind at ease knowing their brake fluid was serviced correctly.

Purchase BrakeStrip

 

Review Us:

Have you used our products? If so please Click Here to leave us a review.

PHOENIX SYSTEMS RETIRING BRAKESTRIP AND REPLACING IT WITH BRAKESTRIP PLUS

PHOENIX SYSTEMS RETIRING BRAKESTRIP AND REPLACING IT WITH BRAKESTRIP PLUS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Phoenix Systems LLC   435.673.0777

PHOENIX SYSTEMS RETIRING BRAKESTRIP AND REPLACING IT WITH BRAKESTRIP PLUS

New BrakeStrip Plus provides 2x the service opportunities and helps service centers deliver a safer and more reliable vehicle to their customer.

  1. GEORGE, Utah – With a desire to deliver more value to their customers, Phoenix Systems announces the retirement of its popular BrakeStrip at the end of 2018. The new and improved BrakeStrip Plus will take the place of BrakeStrip beginning January 2019.

BrakeStrip Plus is an innovative test strip which features a brake fluid test pad on one end and coolant test pads on the opposite end. The new strip will provide service centers 2x the service opportunities and help deliver more reliable and safer vehicles.

“We developed BrakeStrip Plus to give users the ability to determine the condition of both brake fluid and coolant in less than 90 seconds,” said Jeremiah Terry, Manager at Phoenix Systems. “BrakeStrip Plus reveals brake fluid and coolant problems before they occur and helps keep a vehicle functioning at its best. Our goal is to offer BrakeStrip Plus without increasing the price.”

For the past eighteen years, over 100 million brake fluid test strips have been used to diagnose worn out brake fluid and have produced over $3 billion in brake fluid service opportunities for service centers worldwide. The new BrakeStrip Plus will increase this tradition of service and is protected by multiple patents and patents pending. 

For more information about BrakeStrip Plus, visit www.brakestripplus.com.

Click Here to download 300dpi product images.

About Phoenix Systems

Founded in 1994, Phoenix Systems is committed to providing cutting-edge tools and technology for the automotive undercar industry.  The company has pioneered many new technologies resulting in more than a dozen patents to change the way vehicles are serviced. BrakeStrip with brake fluid copper testing technology is the industry leading brake fluid test.  The company’s Reverse Bleeding Technology is available in a variety of brake bleeder systems used by both auto care professionals and do-it-yourselfers. For more information, write to 1076 East Commerce Dr #400, St. George, UT 84790; call 435.673.0777; or visit www.brakebleeder.com.   

How to build a Motorized Drift Trike

How to build a Motorized Drift Trike

Drift Trike Build

If you haven’t ridden a drift trike, then you’re missing out. With a few modifications and a $100 motor from Harbor Freight we have an almost too fast drift trike. “We are still trying to figure out the best option for front brakes.”

When considering this build we looked at multiple custom frames and considered building our own until we came across a post by HotRod magazine where they used a Razor Trike frame and added on to provide room for an axle and motor. With a little engineering of our own and some help from BMI Karts we managed to build a solid drifting trike.

Below you will find some images and a list of parts we used to make this build.

Razor Drift Trike

We purchased this Razor drift trike from Amazon. $119-$139

212cc Predator Motor

We purchased our predator motor from Harbor Freight. With a coupon you can usually get this motor for $100

#40 Roller Chain

We purchased our chain from Amazon. $13.58

Axle, Wheels, Sprocket, Clutch and Bearings

We purchased the majority of our parts from BMI Karts. We found their site to be the most comprehensive and their prices to be the best.

Below is a screenshot of what we ordered from BMI. We got an extra wheel hub to see if it could be used to mount an axle brake. We will update this post when our brake shows up in the mail.

Miscellaneous Items

Some additional items we needed were a twist throttle, a 100″ throttle cable, metal for the motor and axle mount and PVC pipe to put over the tires.

Motor and Axle Frame

We used the existing Razor frame and welded on foot rests, metal pipe and flat steel for the motor mount.

PVC Tire Sleeves

Sleeves can get a little pricy. Luckily we have a great plumbing supply neighbor next to our warehouse who gave us some unusable 10″ water pipe. The 10″ fits great over the 10″ tire, however one of the tires must have been a little smaller because it slid out of the PVC. We remedied the problem by applying 3M rubber adhesive to the tire and it no longer slides off.

In the future we are considering going to a larger tire and 12″ PVC to get a little more ground clearance.

Conclusion

Overall this was a fun build. If we build another we will definitely get our parts from BMI Karts, but would most likely opt to build our own custom frame and use a fat bicycle tire in the front with disc brakes.

Links:

BMI Karts

Harbor Freight

Amazon

SURGE BRAKE TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS

Brake System Troubleshooting Tips

THINK SAFETY!!

Don’t attempt working on your brakes if you aren’t experienced with brake systems. These troubleshooting tips assume a person is familiar and equipped with jacking and supporting safety stands, brake tools, seal and bearing inspection techniques, shoe, drum, rotor inspections, and knows how to adjust, fill and bleed brakes.

AUTOMOTIVE HYDRAULIC BRAKE SYSTEMS: The car that you drive has hydraulic brakes. The brakes in your car consist of a “pump” (master cylinder) that you operate with your foot (brake pedal) connected by brake line tubing to a hydraulic cylinder (wheel cylinder) that pushes the brake shoes against the brake drum or disc brake caliper and rotor. The harder you push the pump with your foot, the more pressure you generate, thus the harder the brakes shoes are forced against the rotor or drum to stop you. These systems use brake fluid to do the work.

TRAILER SURGE BRAKE HYDRAULIC SYSTEMS: Surge Brakes on a trailer are also hydraulic brakes and work very much the same-with one difference. In a trailer surge brake system, the “pump” is located on the trailer-as part of the hitch assembly. This special sliding hitch assembly is called a surge brake actuator. It has a master cylinder built into it, but instead of using your foot to operate it, it uses the weight and the momentum of the trailer to do the pumping.

Here’s how Surge Brakes work: Picture the truck and trailer traveling down the road at 45 mph. The truck and trailer are traveling at the same speed, and the truck is pulling the trailer. When you apply your brakes in the truck to slow down, the truck is no longer pulling the trailer, and in fact the opposite occurs, and the trailer now tries to push the truck (thus the name “surge brake”). This energy causes the surge actuator to slide, or compress. This compression operates the master cylinder, causing it to build brake fluid pressure. The harder you brake the tow vehicle, the harder the trailer tries to push the truck. The harder the trailer tries to push the truck, the more pressure the surge actuator builds up. The more pressure created, the harder the trailer brakes work. Even though the brakes on the trailer are not connected directly to the brake pedal in your truck, what you do with your foot in the truck is indirectly telling the trailer brakes what to do.

There is a restrictor orifice built into a surge brake system. Its job is to dampen the response of the trailer brakes, and here’s why: Let’s say you were towing a trailer downhill, and were applying steady brake pressure on the truck brakes to maintain speed (to prevent the rig from gaining downhill speed). The trailer is “pushing” against the truck-causing the trailer brakes to apply. Now the trailer wants to slow down, but in the process of doing so, it causes the truck to begin “pulling” the trailer again, and the brakes on the trailer release. The minute the trailer brakes release, the trailer begins pushing on the decelerating truck again, causing the brakes to apply. This on-off-on-off-on-off pulsing trailer brake application is not desirable. The restrictor orifice dampens the on-off pulsing effect by slowing down the travel of brake fluid from master cylinder to wheel cylinder and back. Many people don’t know the orifice is there, or don’t understand its purpose.

Emergency Breakaway System: Federal law requires all trailers to have a “breakaway” system. If your trailer ever came loose from the tow vehicle while underway, the breakaway system will activate the brakes on the trailer to slow it down and stop it-hopefully preventing an accident. The breakaway system usually consists of a cable or chain that is attached to the tow vehicle on one end, and a lever/latch assembly on the trailer surge actuator. Since the chain or cable is attached to the tow vehicle, if the trailer come loose from the truck the cable pulls the lever energizing the trailer brakes. A latch mechanism keeps the lever in the energized mode even if the breakaway chain or cable is ripped away by the separation of the truck and trailer. The lever mechanically pushes the master cylinder piston to generate emergency brake fluid pressure, and the latch assures that the pressure is maintained until the latch is disengaged manually by using tools. The breakaway system can be helpful in performing tests and even for bleeding the brakes, so understand it and use it to help you keep your brakes in top shape.

TYPICAL SURGE BRAKE TROUBLESHOOTING PROBLEMS:

  • Brakes don’t seem to work at all
  • Brakes work on some wheels, but not on others
  • Brakes operate in reverse when you don’t want them to.
  • Brakes won’t release after a sudden stop.

Brakes don’t seem to work at all: First, do a simple test to see what’s going on. Find the breakaway chain or cable, and pull it until it latches in the locked position. An easy way to do this is to find something that you can use as a lever. Jack up all the tires and wheels that have brakes. Manually rotate the tires/wheels using your hands in the forward travel direction and see if they lock up. Check each wheel that has brakes, as it is possible for some of the brakes to work, but not all of them.

Important: The surge actuator slide must be pulled and pushed (full stroke) to create pressure and bleed air from system when making repairs or tests. The slide will offer resistance due to the orifice and shock absorbers, so expect to stroke it with effort.

Got Brake Fluid? If none of the brakes work, remove the master cylinder cap and look inside to see if there is any brake fluid in the reservoir. If not, we recommend you rebuild or replace the master cylinder and wheel cylinders. The absence of brake fluid-especially for any length of time allows corrosion to form in the entire system-including the steel brake line tubing. Corrosion is the enemy as it creates rough surfaces inside the wheel and master cylinder bores destroying the piston seals. Corrosion will also flow around with the brake fluid and eventually will plug up the orifice. You can test for corrosion contaminants by using Phoenix Systems BrakeStrip Brake Fluid Test Strip and you can stop corrosion by adding a 1oz bottle of Phoenix Systems Brake Shot to your master cylinder. In some cases it is possible to hone the cylinder bores, and replace the seals to rebuild them, but usually the bores are pitted beyond repair. Missing brake fluid means you have a leak. You must find the source of the leak and fix it. Don’t just add brake fluid and go back on the road

Inspect the brakes at the wheel.: If brake fluid exists in the system, a process of elimination is needed to find why the brakes aren’t working. It is possible the brake shoes are worn completely out, or the drum brakes are greatly out of adjustment. We recommend you remove the brake drum and visually inspect the shoe linings. While the brake drum is off, have an assistant manually operate the brake system using the breakaway lever. Have them work the surge actuator from “off to on” and closely watch the wheel cylinder to see if the push rod is moving in and out. If not, the wheel cylinder may be frozen, or the master cylinder is not pumping, or the orifice may be clogged.

INSPECT/TEST MASTER CYLINDER: To test the master cylinder, remove the brake line or hose from the rear of the master cylinder located on the surge actuator. DO NOT remove the orifice fitting that the hose or brake line attaches to. This orifice is very, very small-perhaps as small as the diameter of one strand of hair on your head and can easily clog with debris. Engage the master cylinder using the lever to see if it forces a fine stream of brake fluid thru the orifice fitting. If not, remove the orifice fitting, and then test it again by engaging the master cylinder. If it now pumps fluid, hold the orifice up to a strong source of light and see if you can see thru it. If not, it is clogged and is preventing the brake fluid from reaching the wheel cylinders. Unclog or replace the orifice, reinstall it in the master cylinder, then test again. (If the clog is on the master cylinder side of the orifice fitting, it prevents pressurized brake fluid from operating the brakes. If the clog is on the wheel cylinder side of the orifice fitting, it creates problems when the brakes try to release, because it prevents the flow of brake fluid back to the master cylinder reservoir) If the master cylinder won’t pump in all of these tests, it needs replacement. If the master cylinder does pump, proceed to the next step. (Note: it is possible for a master cylinder to pump fluid at a low pressure, but could have internal piston seal leakage that prevents it from building up adequate pressure to operate the trailer brakes.)

TEST THE BRAKE LINE FOR BLOCKAGE: Remove the brake line from a wheel cylinder, and have an assistant pump the master cylinder using the lever. Look at the end of the brake line you just disconnected. If brake fluid is being pumped thru the line, the master cylinder, orifice and brake line seem to be working, so assume the wheel cylinder(s) should be suspect at this point.

Bad Wheel Cylinder? If you have proven the master cylinder is working, the orifice isn’t clogged, and the brake tubing is clear, the wheel cylinder should operate when the master cylinder is engaged using the lever. If it doesn’t, the wheel cylinder most likely has a frozen piston. Although you really can’t bench test the wheel cylinder, you can peel back and remove the rubber boot to look for rust or corrosion that would prove a stuck piston. If you have a stuck piston, replace the wheel cylinder with a new one. It’s a very inexpensive part.

Brakes work on some wheels, but not on others: If the brakes work on even one wheel, it would indicate the master cylinder and orifice are ok. The wheels that don’t work will have one of the following problems that you’ve already learned how to test and fix:

  1. Frozen piston in wheel cylinder or disc caliper.
  2. Worn out or misadjusted brake linings.
  3. Blocked or kinked brake line tubing to that wheel.
  4. Leaking wheel cylinder that has brake shoes and drum soaked with brake fluid.
  5. Leaking wheel seal that has brake shoes and drum soaked with grease.
  6. Severely worn or glazed brake drum or rotor.
  7. Air in the fluid lines. (Bleeding required. Use a Phoenix Systems Reverse Bleeder for best results.)

Brakes work in reverse when you don’t want them to: The principle of surge brake operation says that the brakes will apply whenever the trailer pushes against the truck while in motion. The reverse side effect of this is that in reverse, the truck can push against the trailer also causing the brakes to apply. If for instance you were backing up on soft grass or mud, (or uphill) the trailer really doesn’t want to back up easily, but must be forced by the truck. This is enough to apply the trailer brakes. The harder you try to force the trailer, the harder the trailer brakes apply. Trailer surge brake manufacturers deal with this in different ways:

  1. Use Free Backing brake assemblies on the axle that allow the brakes to disengage only in reverse. This is the most common method.
  2. Use an electric solenoid valve that allows the brake fluid to bypass back to the reservoir while in reverse. The electric valve is wired to the reverse lights on the tow vehicle. This ensures the brakes only bypass in reverse. This is the second most common method, usually seen on boat trailers more than other types of trailers. This system usually uses a 5pin flat plug trailer wiring connector instead of a standard 4 pin electrical connector.
  3. Use a mechanical pin to prevent the surge actuator from compressing and building up pressure. This pin is supposed to be used when backing up only, but if left installed can prevent the brakes from operating-even if traveling in forward. This is a very uncommon method.
  4. Use a manual valve that bypasses brake fluid to the reservoir. It requires the operator to manually open the bypass valve when in reverse, but to remember to close the valve before towing in forward motion. This is also a very uncommon method.

Brakes won’t release after a sudden stop: This is not a very common problem, but it can occur. What causes this is the brake fluid pressure cannot release and travel back to the reservoir due to a mechanical or hydraulic problem. Check the following items to identify the problem.

  1. The orifice is clogged on the output side of the orifice. The clog is acting as a check valve allowing the fluid to come out of the fitting, but won’t let it go back in.
  2. The surge actuator slide assembly has mechanically jammed (stuck) in the compressed position, and will not allow the master cylinder piston to return to it’s relaxed position preventing the fluid from returning to the reservoir and releasing the brakes.
  3. The piston in the master cylinder is stuck in the compressed position preventing the internal return spring from pushing the piston to its parked position-allowing brake fluid to return to the reservoir and releasing the brakes.
  4. The steel push rod that pushes the master cylinder piston is adjusted too long or is bent and will not allow the master cylinder piston to return to it’s relaxed position allowing the fluid to return to the reservoir and releasing the brakes.

Boat trailers in particular work in a very harsh environment. A boat trailer axle is literally submerged underwater when launching or loading a boat. Fresh water is bad enough, but salt water is extra tough on the brakes, bearings, seals, drums, rotors, etc. Purchase and install a flush kit on your drum brakes. This kit allows you to hook up a garden hose to the brakes and flush the salt water out with clean tap water extending the life of the brakes and running gear on a boat trailer. Boat trailers don’t get used as much as other types of trailers, making them even more prone to brake problems due to rotted seals, corrosion, etc.

A very simple test to perform before you travel on a trip, or after the trailer has been sitting for a while is to hook the trailer to your tow vehicle as you would normally. Engage the brakes while parked by pulling on the breakaway system cable or chain until it latches. Next, place the tow vehicle in gear, and begin to slowly drive forward. You should feel the trailer brakes working and offering very stiff resistance. Don’t forget to unlatch the breakaway system before using the trailer normally.

Brake Job Done Well

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