Brakes are an essential part of any car, but they have their peripheral issues, such as grinding, squeaking, and groaning. Thankfully, General Motors is hard at work making brake noise a thing of the past.
Earlier this year, General Motors opened a state-of-the-art 14,000-square foot braking facility. The testing chambers can simulate underbody airflow and adjust in temperature and humidity within 15 minutes, and run 24 hours a day.
“If we do our job correctly, the customer won’t notice our work,” says GM performance engineer for brake noise development, Brent Lowe. “Watch any movie and you’ll hear brake squeal every time a car stops because Hollywood loves to add the brake squeaking sound effect, and nothing bugs me more. We work to make sure our brakes lead the industry in silence.”
Besides its weather-adjusting capability, the facility includes a high-tech brake chassis dynamometer (developed with supplier Link Engineering) that can simulate braking conditions that range from snowy frontiers to sandy beaches. The dynamometer allows vehicles to make up to 1,900 full stops in 2½ days, instead of 1,000 stops in two weeks. This gives engineers a better opportunity to locate and resolve any issues related to brake noise.
“The ability to control and replicate the conditions that our customers’ vehicles are driven under is just as important as the ability to control the brake pressure, vehicle speed and direction,” Lowe adds.
The facility has a soundproof design to provide a quiet environment for testing and to spare other testers outside noises or vibrations that may disrupt testing.
“The concept of a silent brake is actually very complicated,” says Lowe. “Braking creates friction and the more friction present amounts to more noise. Though the sound of brakes squealing is something every driver can easily identify as a nuisance, it is one of the more difficult things to actually remove. We have been very successful at taking on that challenge at GM.”