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Braking system complexities underscore pressing value of training

Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 06:00
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Educational requirements for brake repairers and the distributors who serve them are showing no signs of slowing down as an alphabet soup group of terms – ABS, ESC, TCS, EBD and AEB – are increasing the levels of knowledge needed to make the correct diagnosis and fix the related computerized circuitry that may be at fault.

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Anti-lock braking systems (ABS), electronic stability controls (ESC), traction control systems (TCS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and automatic emergency braking (AEB) are just a few of the newer technologies breaking into a rapidly evolving brake category that previously involved replacing parts typically located directly behind the wheels.

Under an agreement recently reached among 20 automakers and American regulators, AEB will be standard equipment on all light vehicles sold in the United States by 2022.

“It’s definitely more complicated than it used to be,” says John Gardner, an instructor at Chipola College of Automotive Technology in Marianna, Fla. and host of the “Tech Garage” television show on the Velocity Network, sponsored in-part by Advance Auto Parts.

“One of the most viewed topics is brakes – right back to the basics. I tend to want to lean into computer-command control and sensors, but when we get back to the basics it’s always the highest views,” he says. “You can do a brake job in your driveway as long as you don’t have codes to diagnose.”

For do-it-for-me professionals, “you have to break it down by pieces. There’s a lot more theory involved – it used to be all hands-on. The more complex it gets, you need more technicians who are able to do it, and there’s a shortage of technicians who are properly trained,” says Gardner. “A lot of the training has to be theory, hands-on and mentoring in the industry.”

Chipola’s brake education, also offered onsite at hotel conference rooms, distributorships, retailers and shops throughout the U.S. and underwritten by vendors, encompasses 60 percent theory and 40 percent hands-on.

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