Brembo North America, a supplier of premium brake components and systems, introduced a concept at Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) in Las Vegas that it said makes it easy for installers and vehicle owners to determine if brake discs or rotors should be replaced.
Called ``Easy Check,'' the innovation relies on two small holes of different depths machined into the face of the disc. The first hole is drilled to the minimum thickness that is approved by the original equipment car manufacturer. When this hole is no longer visible, it indicates that 80 percent of the usable disc surface has been worn.
The second hole is drilled 0.2 millimeter less deep than the minimum thickness. When it disappears, it tells the technician or customer that the disc should be replaced immediately.
To help installers identify whether a disc has the Easy Check indicators, part numbers are clearly marked on the edge of the disc.
Geoffrey Wilsey, director of North America aftermarket sales for Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Brembo, unveiled the Easy Check concept Nov. 2 at a press conference during AAIW's Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo.
Its development, he said, is an outgrowth of the Green Disc initiative Brembo's parent company, Brembo S.p.A., began in Europe to recycle used brake discs. Bergamo, Italy-based Brembo S.p.A. develops and manufactures high-performance braking systems and components.
In analyzing those returned units, Mr. Wilsey said Brembo found that 70 percent were below the minimum thickness determined to be safe by the original equipment car manufacturer and the Department of Transportation.
``This was very, very alarming to us,'' he said, considering there are 225 million cars and light trucks on U.S. roads today. ``Just stop and think of the potential dangers this represents, if those percentages hold true, from what we experienced in Europe to what we could potentially experience in the United States.''
Rotors worn below the minimum thickness have a loss of coefficient of friction, the appearance of hot cracks in the disc and the possibility of vapor bubbles in the hydraulic circuit-all factors that compromise the safety of the vehicle, he said.
The Easy Check system offers advantages to both technicians and vehicle owners, Mr. Wilsey said.
Easy Check serves as a reminder to owners that brake discs are a component that can deteriorate and encourages regular vehicle checkups. For technicians, the system provides a quick way of determining the level of brake disc wear.
Each Brembo disc with Easy Check will come with a leaflet explaining to installers why the disc has holes in it and how to read them, Mr. Wilsey said. In addition, consumers will receive a small tag for placement on the side of the door that indicates to technicians that Easy Check discs were used on the vehicle and the date of installation.
Mr. Wilsey said Brembo has subjected its Easy Check discs to rigorous testing covering every possible driving situation ``demonstrating absolute dependability.''
Initially, Brembo will offer Easy Check on 178 discs covering about 80 percent of the market, he said. Eventually, the company's new concept will cover all of its 1,500 SKUs; products without it will be phased out. The price of Brembo rotors with Easy Check will remain unchanged from those without it.
Mr. Wilsey said he anticipates other brake disc manufacturers will follow Brembo's lead and introduce rotors with their own wear indicators. ``But I've always believed, let's be the innovator rather than the imitator.''
Brembo recently received a Frost & Sullivan Award for Product Quality Leadership for its superior production of brake rotors and drums for the North American market.