DETROIT – General Motors’ process for treating brake rotors, potentially doubling their lifespan, will be on 80 percent of the company’s vehicles by 2016.
The automaker said its engineers developed the exclusive corrosion protection process called Ferritic Nitro-Carburizing (FNC), which is used to treat powertrain parts that operate in high-heat conditions, back in 2008. Since then, the automaker said FNC has helped reduce warranty claims on brakes by 70 percent.
Some of the current vehicles that use these brakes are the Chevrolet Malibu, Impala, Volt and Buick Lacrosse and Regal, though currently this technology is on only a small percentage of vehicles in the automaker's portfolio.
In terms of upcoming models that will use this technology, a GM spokesperson said the 2013-MY Chevrolet Malibu, and the 2013-MY Cadillac XTS, will have FNC rotors.
GM stated that FNC treatment of brake rotors can save vehicle owners more than $400 per vehicle over 10 years.
During the FNC process, brake rotors are super-heated to 560 degrees C in an oven and nitrogen atoms bond to the surfaces of the steel rotors, hardening and strengthening them. The coating's thickness is roughly one-tenth the width of a human hair.
A GM spokesperson said the automaker has continued to improve the process since it began using it back in 2008. GM originally used a salt bath process and is now using a more efficient "gaseous" process, which the automaker said improved results.
“Rotors aren’t a cheap thing to replace,” said Webster. “So doubling the average life expectancy of the brake rotors from 40,000 to 80,000 miles is something we think our customers will appreciate.”