We recently reported about a GM patent application for what appeared to be a unique set of Chevrolet brakes… or, more specifically, rotors that branded with the Chevy Bow Tie emblem. While some outlets reported that this is likely for aesthetics purposes, we’re not convinced. Rather, we think the design is actually intended to help dealerships and mechanics quickly and easily identify whether or not a part is a genuine OEM piece from GM.
Let’s start with the patent abstract description, which lists the filing as relating to “a brake rotor having a decorative insert” that can “provide a method to effectively and lastingly mark components without adding prohibitive cost to the manufacturing process or compromising component quality.” Nothing in there explicitly suggests that aesthetics is the purpose. Sure, the “decorative insert” part might be a bit misleading, but objectively, it doesn’t make sense to do this simply because it looks good. After all, one of the badges is found on the rotor hat, which would be fully concealed by the wheel. And to see the other logos, one would have to look really closely at the rotor. It’s one thing to brand a caliper… but quite another to brand a rotor for the purposes of aesthetics.
All that leads us to believe that the much more likely scenario is that GM wants a quick and easy method for mechanics to identify which parts are genuine OEM. In other words, which are OEM Chevrolet brakes, and which are not. After all, brake rotors are wear items that can get warped or cracked and will be in need of replacement.
What’s more, some aftermarket brake rotors tend to be substandard when it comes to quality. In fact, there have been cases where sub-par aftermarket brake rotors were responsible for poor braking performance, leading to accidents and associated lawsuits. In other cases, low-quality aftermarket rotors caused damage to other vehicle components, sticking the automaker with the bill (or a lawsuit) when it came time to repair the vehicle. In all of these cases, a branded rotor would make it easy to identify whether or not it’s OEM, or not.
We’re also curious how GM would implement this in a way that won’t negatively impact braking performance. These “decorative inserts” need to be designed in a way that doesn’t accelerate wear and tear on not only the rotor itself, but also on other brake components, such as the brake pads. Meanwhile, the branding should also not decrease the overall contact area between the pad and the rotor, otherwise known as the swept area. We would imagine that large, Bow Tie-shaped divots in the rotor surface would quickly tear through a set of pads, and possibly lead to cracks in the rotor surface as well, especially with hard use. Of course, if GM is patenting the idea, engineers probably found a way around that problem.
Either way, this new patent is almost definitely not for aesthetics. You heard it here first. For more firsts, be sure to subscribe to GM Authority for more Chevrolet news and around-the-clock GM news coverage.