Any problem with a braking system is bad news for drivers. Even when the brakes don't fail entirely, changes in the effectiveness and feel of the pedal can prove harmful, throwing vehicle operators out of their accustomed routines and potentially causing collisions.
Automakers and part manufacturers at every link of the auto supply chain need to have their eyes out for potential issues with braking assistance systems, lest they suffer costly and reputation-damaging recalls following problems.
"A range of issues can afflict cars and trucks."
Recalls around the world
The following are a few of the vehicle recalls that have been tied to faulty brake boosting and assistance systems over the past few years. Collectively, they help display the range of issues that can afflict cars and trucks, and that manufacturers have to watch out for.
Range Rover Evoque, Australia: CarsGuide reported that Jaguar Land Rover has called back the 2.0-liter diesel variant of the Land Rover Evoque. This represents a particularly embarrassing issue for the automaker, as the current recall is tied to a previous one. When the sport utility vehicles were fixed in December 2015, the new procedure failed to reliably solve the problem.
The issue in this case involves problems with the exhaust gas recirculation casting bracket. The problem that triggered the recall is potential wear of wires in the engine harness protective sleeve. If these wires wear through, they could lead to several vehicle failures, including loss of brake power assistance.
A surprise engine stall would potentially deplete the brake vacuum reservoir, with negative effects on brake functionality. This shows the many ways other vehicle systems can impact braking performance.
Hyundai Elantra, United States: The 2017 Hyundai Elantra is also going through a recall based on possible brake assistance faults. Car Complaints explained that approximately 33,800 cars are affected, and that the problem lies in the diaphragm of the brake booster. When that part comes loose, there is the possibility of a vacuum leak and resulting loss of braking power, leading to increased stopping distances.
As the source noted, the possible brake booster problem was noticed by the relevant part's supplier. That company found a fix for the issue and has shipped new brake booster assemblies to Hyundai dealers. It takes technicians approximately an hour to replace the systems.
Dodge Dart, various countries: The late-2015 recall of the 2013-2014 Dodge Dart from multiple countries, which took place in 2015, is notable for the large number of cars involved. Over 100,000 vehicles were called back following seven collisions and two slight injuries, AutoBlog reported.
The issue with these cars resided in the brake booster, but had to do with the tube routing instead of the diaphragm. In worst cases, oil seeps into the brake booster, compromising braking assistance features.
The source noted that while most of the cars impacted are in either the United States, Canada or Mexico, 444 of them fall outside of North America. The recall process involves an inspection to see if the brake booster has been compromised by oil. If so, more components are replaced, with the vacuum pump, master cylinder and brake booster coming out in addition to the vacuum tube.
"An estimated 271,000 Ford F-150s were recalled."
Ford F-150, North America: In perhaps the best-known recall of those listed, a huge number of Ford F-150 pickup trucks needed repairs on their master cylinders.
The Associated Press reported that an estimated 271,000 trucks were recalled, more than twice the already-substantial amount of Dodge Darts in the aforementioned recall.
When the notice of recall went out in May of 2016, there were nine collisions potentially tied to the issue. While those crashes did not cause any injuries, one driver reported a hurt knee while pressing the brake pedal in an affected F-150. The source noted that, as with the Dodge recall, Ford promised to replace additional braking system parts if leaks occurred.
Testing brakes always matters
Every element of a braking system is worth testing, at every step of production. It's clear that problems can come from any part or element, and all parts of the supply chain have their own areas of expertise.
Organizations responsible for any part of the automotive manufacturing process can assess their own testing needs via a complimentary Greening brake testing consultation. No matter the part involved or the potential issues to screen for, this consultation is a great first step to setting a rigorous training regimen.