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The Problem With Living In The 'Now'

I once had a shop manager who concentrated on the “now.” Every day was a mad dash to complete the jobs at hand. He wanted to know who was working on what, where the parts were and when everything would be done. He was constantly reacting to a customer’s...

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ASE G1: Drive Belt Inspection, Replacement

The ASE G1 Certification test contains 55 scored questions, plus 10 unscored ­research questions, that cover a range of skills and knowledge related to maintenance and light repairs in engine systems, automatic transmission/transaxle, manual drivetrain...

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Amateurs and Hacks Provide Job Security For Automotive Service Professionals

Two cars pull up in front of my shop. The drivers didn’t come in, but I heard the commotion from my office window. The boyfriend opens the hood of his girlfriend’s car. They both stare at the engine; she tells the boyfriend that she was supposed...

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Audi Engine Timing Chain Failure Due to Lack of Maintenance

If you’ve been working on cars as long as me, you’ll remember the first timing belt you did and thought, “what was wrong with timing chains?” It was only a year ago, when I was working on a 2005 Audi A6 Quattro with a 3.2L engine with a broken...

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Acura: Clunk Noise While Turning

Model: Acura RSX 2005-’06 Symptom: The front suspension makes a ­clunking noise while turning. Probable Cause: The front springs are moving on the spring seats. Corrective Action: Replace both front springs and do a four­-wheel alignment. Diagnosis:...

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Inside Import Car Collision Warning, Automatic Braking Systems

Anything that moves under its own power also has to stop, so brakes have been a safety feature on cars since day one. Over the years, technical innovations such as antilock brakes (ABS) have ­improved the ability to stop with minimal skidding on...

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Pulling Codes: 7 Common Causes of Misfire Codes

A flashing check engine light and a P0301 to P0312 diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is a surefire indication that one or more cylinders are misfiring. Occasional misfires may pass unnoticed, but a steady misfire is hard to miss. The engine usually feels...

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Analyzing the Cylinder Pressure Waveform from a Running Engine, Part 3

By Vasyl Postolovskyi and Olle Gladso Contributing Writers and Instructors at Riverland Technical and Community College in Albert Lea, MN   In Part 1 of this Maximizing Tools series, we discussed an alternative approach to diagnosing an engine...

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Mac Tools Is Wrenching for a Cure

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Mac Tools is featuring a variety of Wrenching For A Cure products available for purchase in the Flyer 11 through Nov. 2. Featured pink products include clothing, accessories, flashlights, pint glasses, and...

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‘Green’ Bullets: Tips for Servicing Hybrid Vehicles

Newsflash: Hybrids are here to stay. The oldest Toyota Prius models are now 14 years old and many other hybrids from other manufacturers are crossing the 100,000-mile mark every day. Here are a few of my Silver Bullets, — or in this case “Green...

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Legendary Spark Plugs: The Six Toughest Vintage Spark Plug Replacements

1. AMC Pacer: The Pacer was supposed to get a GM Wankel rotary engine. If this were the case, the four plugs would have been easy to access. But thanks to emissions problems, the Pacer would get the regular AMC straight six. This forced the engineers...

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Battery Service and Diagnosis

A good battery with an adequate charge is absolutely essential for reliable cold starting. A weak battery, or one that is rundown, may not deliver enough amps to crank the engine when temperatures plunge and the oil thickens. Cold weather can be hard...

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Home Brakes High Performance Brakes: Carbon Ceramic Rotors

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While it may seem like these systems are untouchable like some super models, this expensive option on some high performance vehicles could be the brake of the future if they manage to bring the costs down.

Ceramic composite rotors are extremely durable. In fact, manufacturers claim that they’ll never need replacement — at least with "normal" driving. They’re also resistant to the kind of distortions and wear that leads to pedal pulsation — merely an annoyance in the “real world,” but a noticeable performance issue on the track.
Manufacturing
The brake discs are formed from a specially treated carbon-fiber compound that is silicated in a high-vacuum process at higher temperatures then any stop could produce. Not only are the resulting discs much harder than standard discs, they are more resistant to heat. The process used to produce the discs for CCB is complex and time-consuming  and costly when compared to cast iron.

The carbon fibers are blended with a resin of carbon and silicon. The mixture is pressed into a mold to create the basic disc shape, including its internal cooling vents. Using heat up to 3,000º F, the resin is converted to silicon carbide, a material nearly as hard as diamond. This is the “ceramic” in “carbon ceramic.” If you tried to machine these rotors, you would need diamond tipped bits in your brake lathe.

The low thermal expansion of the brake discs prevents deformation under heavy braking. Furthermore, the ceramic brake discs are totally resistant to corrosion and offer more favorable noise-damping properties.
 
Advantages
Because of their exceptional performance in extreme conditions, ceramic composite brakes were developed for use in high-level motorsports competition. Porsche was the first automaker to apply them for road use, with Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes included as standard equipment in the Porsche GT2 and Carrera GT and as an option in most other models.

Ceramic composite brake discs provide a 50-percent weight savings compared to conventional metal discs. This reduces unsprung weight, enhances shock absorber response and vehicle handling, and also improves fuel efficiency and contributes to reduced emissions.

Ceramic composite brake discs have an extremely hard surface that provides consistent frictional values throughout the deceleration process, even in braking from extremely high speeds and at high operating temperatures, such as those generated from repeated braking. But the system also provides benefits in low-speed situations.  In the event of an emergency stop, the technology does not require heavy pedal forces or outside technological boosting assistance to achieve maximum and immediate stopping force.

With cross-drilled discs and pads that are resistant to water absorption, the ceramic composite brakes provide superior response in wet conditions as well as dry. Because of their hard surface and immunity to salt corrosion, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes have an extremely long operating life.
Service Life
Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes have been on the market for almost 10 years. There have been no recalls or lawsuits. There have been some complaints on low speed noise, but Porsche’s advice is to warm them up.

The only real complaints with the ceramic disc have come from weekend racers who have experienced cracked discs due to extreme abuse. Porsche’s advice to these drives is to check for cracks before they head out to the track. With the replacement costs of four disc and pads costing more than $20,000, many are switching to cast iron rotors and semi-metallic pads.  
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Andrew Markel

Andrew Markel is an ASE Certified Technician and former service writer, and he brings this practical knowledge to the Brake & Front End team as editor.
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