By Andrew Markel,
ASE Certified Technician
Editor, Brake & Front End Magazine
When you are taking back a brake caliper core or a customer is returning a brake caliper, there are some things to look for so you won’t get stuck holding a non-returnable core.
1. Look at the catalog: Not looking in the supplier’s catalog is the number one mistake counter professionals make when taking back a questionable core or return. Make sure that what is in the box matches what is in the catalog. Many electronic catalogs include digital pictures to verify the correct core.
2. The paperwork is just as important as the core: According to one remanufacturer, the number one reason for delayed core credit is the paperwork is not filled out correctly. Common errors range from forms that are not fully filled out to paperwork that does not reflect the cores being returned.
3. Know the remanufacturer’s return policy: Knowing the remanufacturer’s return policy can save you headaches and lost money on core charges. Most remanufacturers will not deny a core return flat out. Instead, they have list of defects and how a specific defect will affect the core’s value. Defects like a broken bleeder screw or a missing piston will cut your core credit in half while other defects like cracks or extreme bore scoring will cause a complete loss of the core credit.
Making sure you know the manufacturer’s core return criteria ahead of time will let you adjust the customer’s core credit at the time of the return, instead of getting a surprise when you return the core to the remanufacturer.
4. Make sure everything is in the box: If the manufacturer included new caliper brackets, make sure the core’s bracket is in the box. Many technicians will separate the floating caliper section from the bracket thinking the remanufactured unit it will not include the piece. When it is time to box up the core, the bracket is often left on the bench. Make sure your delivery drivers know to check for the bracket when they pick up the core. Rear brake calipers should also include any emergency brake hardware that was replaced with the new caliper.
5. Check the ports and bleeders: If a shop is returning a new or remanufactured caliper, take a look at the inlet port and bleeder. Some technicians will cross-thread or damage the threads for the brake line connection. Instead of restoring the threads with the proper tools, they will return the caliper to your store leaving the next guy to deal with the problem. Some remanufacturers include new banjo bolts to prevent the problem happening in the first place.
6. Pay close attention to aluminum caliper cores: Make sure to check your remanufacturer’s core policies on aluminum calipers. Aluminum calipers, like on the Chevrolet Malibu, can have corrosion around the inlet port where the banjo fitting makes contact. The two dissimilar metals create galvanic corrosion that can lead to pitting of the surfaces and eventually a leak. Most remanufacturers will not give you credit for an aluminum brake caliper core if it is severely pitted.
Since aluminum is a soft material, look for damaged threads in the inlet port if a shop is returning an aluminum caliper they say they did not need.