Understanding Brake Proportioning Valves
Your car’s braking system is extremely complex and intricate. There is more to automobile braking systems than rotors and callipers. The proportioning valve is one of the most important aspects of a vehicle’s braking system. Understanding how the proportioning valve works is vital to finding out when to have it checked by a technician.
How a Proportioning Valve Works
The proportioning valve connects your master cylinder to the entire braking system. This valve helps to optimise the brake balance, also known as the front-to-rear bias. The valve is a spring-loaded element that responds by building up the pressure when the driver steps on the brake pedal. This valve has a plunger that releases the brake fluid to the calibrated range. In retrospect, the spring is compressed, prompting the plunger to block the brake fluid from passing through. By controlling the release of the brake fluid, the valves ensure the even distribution of pressure in the front and rear of the car. As such, the valve is quite reliable when it comes to ensuring optimum braking performance.
Preventing Brake Lock-up
The valve helps to control the brake balance. Since the rear brakes usually receive too much load during rapid deceleration, controlling the pressure is vital. If the proportioning valve is not functioning, the rear brakes are likely to lock up during deceleration. As such, a properly working proportioning valve is instrumental if you want to be safe during the instances of heavy braking.
Types of Proportioning Valves
Some brake proportioning valves are mounted on the master cylinder. After mounting them on the cylinder, the mechanic will attach them to the fluid ports located near the brake lines. The load-sensing valves have levers attaching them to the suspension system since they are located on the frame at the rear side of the vehicle. The third type of proportioning valves is mounted on the combination valve. These valves are part of the pressure differential switch and the metering valve. You will find these valves under the master cylinder. If your vehicle has drum brakes on the rear side, you need to regulate the pressure as too much loading can cause the brakes to lock. The proportioning valves reduce the amount of loading that goes to the drum brakes to prevent this eventuality.
The new vehicles come with the electronic proportion technologies. Anti-lock braking systems serve the same purpose as the proportion valves. The ABS depends on an algorithm that calculates the slip ratio on each of the four tires based on the information from the speed wheel sensors. An ABS regulates the braking power, depending on the nature and curves on the road, as well as the condition of the tyres. With these systems, an algorithm calculates the slip ratio of all four tyres based on wheel speed sensors. The proportioning valves will modify the ABS, depending on the information from the brake line sensors.
Causes of Valve Failure
The proportioning valve can fail in different ways. Besides locking up the rear wheels, the proportionate valves might cause the car to nose-dive when you apply the brakes. In other instances, the emergency brakes might fail, meaning that the car will not stop fast enough when you apply the brakes suddenly. The modifications that you make on your car will have an impact on the brake balance. For example, the modifications that reduce the weight on the front axle, as well as those that increase the loading on the rear axle can affect the brake balance. Raising the vehicle will also affect the centre of gravity, causing the brakes to lose their balance.
How to Diagnose the Problem
As soon as you notice that the rear wheels are locking up, you need to verify that the proportioning valves have a problem. You need to find an empty parking lot where you can test the emergency brakes. You should speed up and make some rapid stops. Once you press the brake heavily, the rear wheels will lock up while the front wheels turn normally. The replacement of the proportionate valves will affect the brake bias.
Repairing the Braking System
Repairs that involve replacing the brake proportioning valves should be left to professionals. The reason is that you might mess up other parts of the brake. Since brakes are some of the most sensitive parts of the car, you do not want to skimp on the professional help. A professional mechanic will not only test the brakes and identify the problem, but such a professional will also insist on genuine parts. In addition, the mechanic will have some specialised tools that help to diagnose the failures that you cannot notice easily. Since the proportionate valves vary widely, a professional will identify the right type when it comes to replacement. Only a competent mechanic has the knowledge and tools required to restore the brake bias.