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Braking system complexities underscore pressing value of training

Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 07:00
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A non-dealership shop “can often perform the repair without hesitation, but may not have the specific scan tool to recalibrate the system once complete,” Rota warns, “resulting sometimes in a follow-up trip to the dealer and an unsatisfied consumer.”

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As aging vehicles remain on the road longer, North America’s aftermarket for rotors, drums and calipers is expected to reach $1.64 billion by 2020, with rotor work accounting for roughly two-thirds of the category’s value, compared to 2013’s sales tally of $1.39 billion, according to Frost & Sullivan analyst Stephen Spivey. “In particular, rotors wear quickly as they have become lighter and thinner and need to be replaced often.”

“Rotors used to be made with more material, which allowed for resurfacing typically at least once over the life of the rotor,” reports Rota. “With manufacturers looking to cut costs and reduce vehicle weight, rotors are thinner and typically only last for one service.”

Consequently, counter personnel, service advisors and technicians face a customer relations challenge when “explaining this exact issue to some of the more seasoned drivers, who were used to regularly resurfacing rotors on older vehicles, and who don’t want to pay for new rotors,” Rota says. “Luckily the cost of brake rotors has also reduced over the years, and the cost to resurface vs. replace has essentially equaled out.”

Integrating electronics

“We’re changing from mechanical to electronic, and it’s becoming increasingly complex,” says Laura Lyons, who sits on the board of directors at the Automotive Training Managers Council (ATMC) and is president of ATech Training in Walton, Ky.

ATech specializes in constructing instructional display models out of braking system components and conducting train-the-trainer classes at its headquarters while also exhibiting at trade shows and hosting onsite sessions at various venues. Coursework materials are provided with the mockup devices to ensure that trainers and their students receive a complete education.

“We teach them how the system works. You can’t drive the car (undergoing demonstrated repairs) because there’s not a safe way to do that, so the students practice on the devices. Technicians learn to be better technicians by practicing,” she says.

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