Tire changes and brake work are the bread and butter of many service departments. Check out these brake tech tips to make sure your technicians are doing everything they can for the customer and providing opportunities to upsell important service extras.
When a street bike rolls in for a new set of tires, most techs will check out the brake pads to see if they are also in need of replacement. This is a good start, but another important and often neglected component of the brake system is the fluid.
Most bikes and ATVs call for the brake fluid to be replaced and bled every two years or if the feel becomes soft and spongy. Under most circumstances the brake fluid will not deteriorate to the point of becoming unusable in two years. However, if the brake fluid is allowed to stay in the system for an extended period of time, it will begin to crystallize.
Eventually, the hydraulic components will become locked up and no longer function. This is why the caliper pistons will refuse to move on that bike that has been in storage for years. Once the crystallization has set in, the brake system will be in need of a total overhaul.
Anytime a vehicle comes in, check the feel of the hydraulic brakes and ask about the last time the brake fluid was changed. Explain why this is needed and show them the maintenance chart for the model. If they opt in, it’s good for you, the machine and the customer’s safety. If the customer puts it off, let them know it should be done as soon as possible.
When changing the brake fluid, remember to use fresh fluid from a sealed container. Also, make sure to double check the type of fluid to use. Most will use the standard DOT 4, but some manufacturers such as KTM and Harley-Davidson call for a specific fluid. Often, this is imprinted on the top of the master cylinder, or you may need to consult a model-specific service manual like the online manuals found at Cyclepedia.com.
Another great thing to check out is the condition of the brake discs. Most manufacturers give a service limit on thickness as well as warpage. Many times, a warped disc can be detected by a quick spin of a free-floating wheel. Replacing defective brake discs is beneficial to all parties.
In addition to paid services, there are also some steps you can take to provide an overall better service to your customer. When the brake pads are being inspected, clean the grime off of the caliper pistons. If new pads are to be installed, thoroughly clean the pistons to avoid pushing debris into the piston seals when the new pads are installed and check if the pads have or require shims as these are not always included with new pads.
Telling the customer that you included a small extra service is a great way to show attention to detail and build goodwill. Also when the new pads are installed, always clean the pad pins and apply a light coat of silicone brake grease to the sliding surface of the pin. This will make sure the pads will move smoothly. In an added benefit, this will also make the job easier the next time around.
Taking the extra steps on common brake work is a great way to earn the trust of customers and keep their machines performing well. Additionally, you can produce extra income for the service and parts departments. While the machine is already in your shop, make the most of it for the customer and your business.