Austin Blankenbeckler
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New GM Brake Testing Facility Creates the Sounds of Silence

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Earlier this year, a new GM brake testing facility was opened at the GM Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. The testing center is a 14,000-square-foot development facility with the sole purpose of providing the best, most quiet braking experience in the industry. In fact, an all-new brake chassis dynamometer allows engineers at the new GM brake testing facility to simulate braking in a multitude of weather conditions, ranging from Alaska’s harsh tundra to the hot sands of a tropical island.

A look inside the new GM brake testing facility

A look inside the new GM brake testing facility ©GM

That dynamometer was developed in conjunction with GM supplier, Link Engineering. Reportedly, the all-new facility can run 24 hours a day, and is capable of changing humidity and temperatures drastically in just 15 minutes and simulating underbody airflow.

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“The ability to control and replicate the conditions that our customers’ vehicles are driven under is just as important as the ability to control the brake pressure, vehicle speed and direction,” Brent Lowe, GM performance engineer for brake noise development, reported.

New GM Brake Testing Facility

Previously, GM had only been able to run 1,000 stops (brakes) in two weeks. At the new facility, however, the engineers can run up to 1,900 stops in just two and a half days.

“If we do our job correctly, the customer won’t notice our work,” noted Lowe. “Watch any movie and you’ll hear brake squeal every time a car stops because Hollywood loves to add the brake squeaking sound effect, and nothing bugs me more. We work to make sure our brakes lead the industry in silence.”

New GM Brake Testing Facility

The test chamber of the new facility is prepped for the ultimate sound proofing so that engineers can listen for subtle nuances.

“The concept of a silent brake is actually very complicated,” said Lowe. “Braking creates friction and the more friction present amounts to more noise. Though the sound of brakes squealing is something every driver can easily identify as a nuisance, it is one of the more difficult things to actually remove. We have been very successful at taking on that challenge at GM.”

New GM Brake Testing Facility

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Lowe concluded, “With our previous methods and equipment, we became really good at finding and mitigating approximately 85 percent of existing brake noises. With this new facility, we’ll be able to locate and address the remaining 15 percent of brake noise frequencies so that we can continue to be leaders in the industry.”