Top 10 tips for reliable and optimal braking performance

Carl
By Carl Heideman
Mar 2, 2024 | brakes, Tech Tips, shop talk | Posted in Shop Work , News and Notes | From the April 2007 issue | Never miss an article

Photography by J.G. Pasterjak

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2007 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]

Out of all of the systems in a car, the brakes have to be the most important. A car that can’t come to a safe, sure stop has no business being on the road or track. 

While today’s cars come from the factory with solid, capable binders, that’s …

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Comments
Alfaromeoguy
Alfaromeoguy Reader
12/7/18 7:43 p.m.

No. 3 and 8 photos.  Alfa Romeo spider  front brakes...lol

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/7/18 7:53 p.m.

It has always amazed me when I take an older car and put a new set of good quality rotors and carbon ceramic street pads. 

My 2007 Saab had decent stock drakes but after swapping in zimmerman rotors and the above pads I can easily stop the car with light pressure from my big toe.  

The technology improvements in stock replacement brake pads in just the last 10 years is amazing. 

MondoMike
MondoMike New Reader
12/7/18 8:18 p.m.

What are peoples opinion of ceramic brake pads? I just purchased a set for my old MGA. It's not on the road yet so I haven't actually tried them but it seemed like a good idea at the time. 

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/7/18 8:55 p.m.

I have found that new rotors are very important. I bed them in by getting them very hot by making a series or aggressive stops followed by dragging them while driving getting them even hotter. Then drive the car like normal letting the cool. Once down to a normal temp I park the car and let them cool completely.  Every vehicle I do this way has spectacular brakes the next time I drive it and they get better after a couple more drives. 

Flynlow
Flynlow HalfDork
12/7/18 8:56 p.m.

Hammertime!

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
12/7/18 10:18 p.m.
Flynlow said:

Hammertime!

Disappointed this was not the first post. 

759NRNG
759NRNG SuperDork
12/7/18 10:29 p.m.
dean1484 said:

I have found that new rotors are very important. I bed them in by getting them very hot by making a series or aggressive stops followed by dragging them while driving getting them even hotter. Then drive the car like normal letting the cool. Once down to a normal temp I park the car and let them cool completely.  Every vehicle I do this way has spectacular brakes the next time I drive it and they get better after a couple more drives. 

How long is the dragging while driving  portion of this exercise &then driving like normal part....overall time spent???

Knurled.
Knurled. GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/8/18 10:18 a.m.
MondoMike said:

What are peoples opinion of ceramic brake pads?

 

They are fine as long as you treat them like Mogwai.  Don't let them get wet,

 

Most of my scary "brakes are not working!!!" moments are related to ceramic pads and wet-weather condtitons.

rslifkin
rslifkin UltraDork
12/8/18 10:48 a.m.

Personally, every set of ceramic pads I've worked with have been garbage.  Yeah, they don't dust much (and the dust is hard to see anyway), but they don't like heat (I've seen a few sets crack and others glaze very easily).  And none of them have stopped all that well in general.  I'll gladly take more aggressive pads that are harder on rotors and make more dust because they actually work. 

wspohn
wspohn Dork
12/8/18 10:59 a.m.

Ceramic pads are great - they produce very little dust and assuming that you select a suitable compound they have excellent fade characteristics.  I've had excellent service with the EBC Redstuff material, but if you want great street performance from pads that aren't ceramic, the Porterfield R4-S are very good as well.  Neither are race pads; both have significantly better initial grab and heat performance than lesser pads for the street.

On most cars, big brake kits are really big ego kits.  It is comical to see the people that want them for the street trying to rationalize how they ar 'necessary' when drivers running the same cars in SCCA with stock brakes at far higher speeds and producing far more heat than any conceivable street use could possibly produce have no issues at all with them.

Mike, the MGA has limited pad selection as that Lockheed caliper wasn't widely used, so you have to look a bit to find decent pads.  Hopefully the ceramic pads you found are good ones.

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