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Brake testing debate

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Thank you for your recent article in the Diesel magazine on brake testing and brake testing equipment. With the well-publicised recent issues around Australia with regard to brake failures and the failure of systems and scrutiny to identify these problems, it was a very timely article.

We are in full agreement, the whole subject of brake testing and brake testing technologies (as well as legislation) should be the number one priority in the industry at the moment. There are too many opportunities for gaps in the system and procedures and testing techniques and it is a major concern across Australia and New Zealand right now.

The article did raise a number of concerns for us however, as we noted a number of major inaccuracies and misconceptions. Some of these are simply false statements. Unfortunately the author takes misguided aim at plate testing equipment.

The writer claims: “the Plate Tester cannot test the entire range of a vehicle successfully”. This is absolutely wrong. Plate testers can, and do, measure all individual brakes on a vehicle. This includes light vehicles and heavy vehicles. This technology is used in hundreds of locations across Australia and New Zealand.

The writer also claims that roller testers can consistently measure brake imbalances, the plate tester cannot: This is also absolutely wrong. The plate tester can and does consistently measure brake balance.

The writer also says “tests on individual wheels to full stop would be too dangerous on a plate tester. This also completely wrong. A plate tester is actually the safest method from all three mentioned in this article. It creates the impression vehicles have to travel at speed and slam on the brakes. This is a fabrication. Plate testing happens at a very low speed of 3-5 km/h and is very safe.

Finally, the author says, “Plate testers are the most space greedy” – sorry wrong again. Plate testers actually need the least amount of space.

We appreciate there are different views on equipment and testing methods and everyone will have their competitive angle, however we believe the focus of this article was all wrong. What should be the key discussion is: What constitutes effective brake testing?

What specific measurements are required from equipment? What equipment options are out there that meet these requirements? This could be plate, roller or anything else.

What is important is that whatever equipment a workshop chooses should be able to provide those measurements. Attacking a particular technology, in this case plate testers is not accurate and is misleading.

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