Disc Brakes have become the industry standard for cars, trucks, and SUV’s. In 1950 – 1954 Chrysler became the first Automotive manufacturer to make 4 wheel disc brakes standard on their Crown Imperial. Because of the high cost and the complexity of late style disc brakes, it was a failed venture. Modern Disc brakes are quite simple and are included on almost every vehicle produced in the world that the cost is in line with the rest of the vehicles maintenance.
The disc brake system has multiple components. When you press your brake pedal, the pedal pushes a lever in the master cylinder, usually located on the engine side directly behind the brake pedal. In the master cylinder a plunger squeezes brake fluid to at least two separate compartments. On for the front brakes, and one for the rear, this is a safety measure in case you get a puncture in one of your brake lines, you would still be able to stop the vehicle. This brake fluid travels through a brake line to the caliper, and the caliper squeezes the brake pads against the brake Disc.
The Brake disc is made out of metal. The metal is a special blend to balance hardness and grip/friction. If the brake disc is made of a metal that is very hard, the brake pad friction material will not be able to effectively stop the vehicle. If the brake disc is too soft, the disc will wear out faster than the brake pads. From the beginning the German manufacturers have believed that the brake rotor should wear out at the same pace as the brake discs. The Japanese and American vehicle manufacturers have had a belief that the brake rotor needs to be much harder, therefore a shop could re-surface the brake rotor or “turn” the disc and just replace the brake pads every other brake job.
At Peak Auto we have found that the newer Japanese and American made vehicles, are still making their brake discs very hard, but are also making them quite thin. There are manufacturer guidelines as to how thick a brake disc needs to be after turning, or resurfacing it. These newer brake discs are typically not made thick enough to pass when brake pad life and a resurfacing.