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GM brake rotors delay rust, dust buildup

Posted by Bill Griffith  December 8, 2011 05:10 PM

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Brake rotors fresh out of the oven in Flint, Mich.

My 1997 Toyota Camry taught me a lesson about rusty brake rotors.

At the time, we lived on a high hill. Every day when I’d head out, I heard this scraping noise from the front wheels. It’d go away after I used the brakes while heading down. After a few days, I realized the discs had accumulated some surface rust overnight, and the brake pads were scouring off that buildup.

So it was interesting to read that General Motors has developed a corrosion protection process that superheats the rotors to 560 degrees Celsius for a day and bonds nitrogen atoms to the rotor surface, hardening and strengthening the rotor for longer life and less corrosion.

So far, the technology is used on the Buick LaCrosse and Regal plus the Chevrolet Malibu, Impala, and Volt.

“Doubling the life expectancy of the brake rotor from 40,000 to 80,000 miles is something we think our customers will appreciate,” says GM technical expert Jim Webster.

The surface treatment, called Ferritic Nitro-Carburizing (FNC), is equivalent to one-tenth the width of a human hair. It allows for sufficient braking friction and effective braking performance while providing corrosion protection.

With so many drivers opting for larger, thin-spoke wheels that show off brake hardware such as bright-colored calipers, the rotors stay shiny and rust-free for a longer period. That early-morning scraping, hopefully, will be a sound of the past.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
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