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Your Brake power regulator worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Slowing down without swerving: the brake force regulator
The brake force regulator is a small, but important component especially used in trucks and older cars. It regulates the braking procedure and the distribution of the hydraulic brake pressure on the front and rear axle. Modern cars no longer have this component as they regulate the brake pressure electronically. Another name for the brake force regulator is the brake pressure distributor.
Strong braking means danger
The rear wheels are important for keeping the car in its track. They only have this tracking ability when rotating. As soon as they block, the car can start to swerve. During driving there is no danger of blocking rear wheels. During a braking manoeuvre this would however unavoidably occur if all wheels would be equally slowed down. In order to keep a vehicle in its track during strong braking manoeuvres, the brake pressure must be distributed. 80% of the brake pressure goes to the front axle, only 20% remains for the rear axle. This slows down the rear of the vehicle adequately and no longer pushes it. As a result the car remains manoeuvrable.
Defects of the brake force regulator
Identifying a defective brake force regulator is often not very easy. Puddles of brake fluid under the car are always suspect. Their causes should always be thoroughly checked. The location of a brake force regulator varies depending on car type. Mostly it is positioned in the vicinity of the rear axle. A backlash of the pedal can also indicate a defect of this component. Principally, as soon as the braking performance changes, a garage should be consulted. A complete brake diagnosis costs 50 EUR (± £45) at most. Following it, you will exactly know what is wrong with your car.
Brake force regulator repair
The brake force regulator component is rather difficult to disassemble, depending on car. Many owners of a Volkswagen Vento or Golf 3 report the only possibility of removing the component with a great deal of force. This is only half bad: the installation of a new component is all the more easy. Replacing a brake force regulator implies opening the brake hydraulic system. This makes venting of the brake system necessary. It is an excellent occasion for checking the brake fluid and if necessary changing it. We refrain from recommending brake fluid change explicitly, as this repair is not without risk: in older cars it can happen that the main brake cylinder fails following a brake fluid change and has to be repaired or replaced. Therefore: an electronic resistance meter which enables checking the quality of the brake fluid, costs ca. 7 EUR (±£6.30). This cheap, but very practical tool should be added to every toolbox. In case the main brake cylinder actually fails after brake fluid change, this is a nuisance, but can be remedied. The component is easy to remove. Prices for a new main brake cylinder strongly depend on the car model. In smaller, cheap cars, the spare part costs about 50 EUR (± £45). For high-performance and heavier cars the component costs more than 200 EUR (± £180). This should not deter any DIY'er. For the main brake cylinder, particularly for the high-quality and more expensive specimens repair sets are usually available at around 50 EUR (± £45).
Cleanliness is mandatory!
The prime directive for all works involving the brake system hydraulics is cleanliness. Dirt penetrating the lines must absolutely be avoided. Therefore a can of brake cleaner should be involved in every repair. Prior to opening a brake line, the opening spot is thoroughly cleaned. An old toothbrush is a useful tool here. Especially in older cars it ir recommended to thoroughly inspect the brake lines. The earlier mentioned Volkswagen models have a tendency for corroding brake lines. The inspection defuses the next "bomb" under the car and you can safely enjoy an intact brake system.
Costs for a new brake force regulator
A new brake force regulator costs between 80 and 200 EUR ( ±£72 - £180) depending on the car type for which it is used. As it is a safety relevant component, be certain to always rely on branded quality.