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GM Pickups to Brake Better

Significant upgrades will improve performance and customer satisfaction of braking systems for GM’s ’05 fullsize pickups.

By Bill Visnic, Jun 4 2004

MILFORD, MI – General Motors Corp. says its ’05 fullsize pickups will be equipped with an all-new braking system that improves performance and is more pleasing to use.

The rub for GM engineers: Their one-step-back-two-steps-forward solution requires a bit of explanation. At first blush, the uninitiated might be convinced GM actually is cutting back on the pickups’ braking ability.

New front disc is larger, twin-piston caliper stiffer.
When the current Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups (internal designation: GMT800) were launched as ’99 models, GM bragged they were the industry’s first fullsize light-duty pickup trucks to come standard with 4-wheel disc brakes.

Until then, pickups – whose rear wheels typically don’t contribute much to the act of slowing the truck – traditionally used less-powerful, less-costly drum brakes for the rear wheels.

The new braking system for the ’05 Silverado and Sierra returns to drum brakes for the rear wheels, but it is not a retrograde move.

GM engineers, along with co-developer Robert Bosch GmbH, are leveraging their knowledge that pickups rarely use their rear brakes as hard as the fronts. They have taken the savings gleaned from using rear drum brakes and spent it on a serious upgrade of the trucks’ front brakes and other braking-system components.

Because the ’05 trucks’ harder-working front brakes now are considerably more powerful, GM and Bosch promise the new system delivers meaningful performance improvements, despite the return to drums at the rear.

Equally important, the new system, engineers say, will provide drivers with better feedback, require less pedal effort and deliver generally better overall response and “feel.”

Jully Burau, assistant chief engineer-fullsize trucks, says GM’s truck engineers pursued the new braking-system design because of continuous-improvement initiatives. “It’s an evolving product. We’re always driving for better quality, reliability and durability,” Burau says.

New master cylinder stiffer, enhances pedal “feel.”
She also says GM targeted the braking system because of J.D. Power and Associates initial-quality ratings and other consumer-clinic data that show customers believe there is plenty of room for improvement in the performance and feedback of pickup brakes – and because GM was not pleased with the Silverado/Sierra’s rating vs. rivals from Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp.

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