Optimal Braking Performance from Stock Brakes
A lot of the posts on the forum about brakes revolve around swapping drums for disc brakes at the back and/or going big or going home for the front brakes...
I have a different question - my car doesn't make big power and while I like, sorry LOVE, the brakes on an SVTF - I can't see myself spending tons of money for used brakes and then upgrading wheels and tires for the same purpose. Okay, ST rears would be pretty neat too, but where am I gonna find those things?
Instead, I'd like to set out to optimize my current/stock brakes.
My car is fast approaching 60k miles and front brake rotors still have life in them however they do have significant scratches/scarring on the surface of the rotors. Also, the rear drums still do their work.
I purchased my ride at 40k and 20k miles later, I would like to do a "fix it before it's broke" type thing. Considering the car's previous owner did not keep the most in-depth records of services - I have no way of knowing what has happened with the car wrt brakes.
So - let me hear from you - the town elders, the experts, the naysayers and everyone else on how to optimize the brakes for the best braking performance without upgrading the size of the rotors AND/OR installing a rear disc brake kit.
2004 D23e MTX
"FRPP kit" = progressive rate springs from ford racing + SVT dampers
K&N FIPK II = love the growl
CFM lower engine mount = never torqued it, still a little play from engine
HID Euro headlights = "I can see clearly now the rain has stopped..."
Autolite 103's (I don't think these are even working any better...)
16" SES wheels shod with Continental DW tires = <3
And what matters to this post the most:
Stock front discs and stock rear drums
If you don't want to upgrade the size then get the rotors turned so they are nice and smooth with no more grooves/scratches. That's if they have enough thickness left for that. Otherwise new replacement stock rotors would be needed. Then get you some new pads. Same thing for the rear. You could add stainless steel brake lines for $100 to replace the stock rubber ones. Can really help with firmer peddle feel.
Sorry, My experience with high performance motorcycles show ME (anyway) that smooth rotors do not mean squat.
The grooves in the rotors match the grooves in the brake pads perfectly, and the brakes. grooves or not work just as well.
Same thing for replacing pads, no need to do ANYTHING to a grooved rotor. The brake pads will set to the rotors in a hundred miles.
Some 'experts' excoriate me for this comment, who cares. I know what actually works. I guess mechanics just like the extra money they make on 'fixing' rotors. The ONLY needed thing is rotors should be replaced once they are below the minumum thickness or if they have cracks
Then avoid tire shine like the evil plague it is. Get ANY of that on your brake rotors and the stuff will get into the pads.. If you use a LOT of tire shine, you will basically ruin the pads.
So use tire shine very sparingly, and never spray it directly on tires. Spray it on a cloth to rub on tires, so no overspray get on the rotors.
Then if your brakes are 'dirty' a few high speed stops will clean off the pads.
My favorite activity was to run my SVT up to 130 (on a track) or so and hit the brakes hard. Usually the first time the brakes would start to fade due to gassing stuff off the pads.. After a few runs the fade would disappear. Then my brakes would just work well for months. All the crap had been burned off the pads. Even freeway speeds (with no one else around to endanger) and hit the brakes hard and hold them, slowing from 70 to 30 or so will heat up the brakes and clean off the crud. As I wrote, ususally the first time the brakes will fade fast. that is natural as the gas off the oil and dirt is created. a few times and the brakes will respond much better.. for months/year.
This is 48 years of driving experience.
Wow high performance motorcycles. Know 3 that race professionally that would kinda argue that point. As well as several in autocross and nascar. Don't know of a single person in motorsports that would advocate worn pads and rotors over new. I mentioned resurfacing the rotors/drums and new pads cuz he said the car had 60k and probably no work done.
Your reference to what you did on your svt is not the correct way to bed in new pads exactly. Should never run up to speeds that high and hit the brakes to bed in the pads. Lower speeds like you those on the freeway are more appropriate. And pads depending on brand and material will not always burn off the crud as you said. Sometimes they will glaze over and become slick. Just stating a possibility. A new pad and rotor will perform better than old ones. Has alot to do with heat dissipation and even brake force. Yes some places may try to make money off you when its not totally needed. But he asked to get the most out of stock components without doing a brake swap. What you said realistically addressed nothing. And yes as she mentioned tire shine everywhere don't get it on the rotors or pads cuz it will reduce braking on your first stop. After that it is burnt off.
Do what you want. Only got 43 year of driving experience, 6 years of racing and 2 family members with a combined 22 years pro racing experience. Coulda typed alot more and got into real detail but not going to. Best of luck.
The stock drum/rotor setup can be improved upon to work almost as good as a four corner disc one does. Both Mintex (AF's) and Porterfield (R4S) make a matching performance pad and shoe combo for most Foci. Naturally, these should be used with fresh rotors and drums. The most popular (and usually affordable) drums and rotors tend to be Centrics although there are others. Always use a fresh fluid (I like Castrol LMA or Valvoline Synthetic for their low moisture absorbing and temperature properties). A set of stainless braided lines (or new stock replacement hoses) will improve and/or restore pedal feel. And remember, tires are what stop a car. All the braking power in the world doesn't mean squat if you don't have good tires.
How does one know when it's time to change the brakes anyway? I get the feeling that the car is taking longer distances to brake but that is only a feeling and could be due to slightly harder driving.
As I have never done a brake job, how hard is it to do? And the pads/shoes would replace the centric stuff? Where is a good place to buy them?
Here are some recommendations:
Where to get: Check out the vendors like C-F-M, they will have everything you would need. Also tirerack has good selections.
Brakelines: Rubber degrades over time, so new ones will flex less and improve feel.
Brake fluid: Clean fluid is important, don't need anything fancy, just clean.
Rear drums: Might as well get the drums with new wheel bearings in them.
When to change: I run mine until I'm out of pad in front, never worn through a set of shoes.
To expand on some of wrc's comments:
Stock/rubber brake lines are under very high pressure. Over time they begin to expand and contract. This translates in the need for more pedal pressure to accomplish the same stopping distance. SS braided lines do not expand or contract resulting in full pressure every time and all the time. They take some time to get used to (modulating pedal pressure) but those that do really like them.
Brake fluid by its chemistry (alcohol based) attracts atmospheric moisture. The moisture mixes with the fluid and when submitted to high temps turns to vapor. Vapor compresses very easily (not what you want for braking efficiency) and results in brake fade (aka a very spongy pedal to no pedal pressure at all). Fluid should be changed every two to three years under normal driving conditions (more often if you live in a high humidity area). If you participate in motorsports it should be changed much more often (sometimes as much as every event or multiple times during an event). Racing fluids while they can operate under much higher temps (without fading) are not always good for daily driving. Some have formulations that attract moisture much more quickly than those sold for normal street driving (i.e DOT type 3 and 4 fluids). As such they require bleeding more frequently.
Brake jobs are fairly straight forward but naturally your life depends on doing it correctly. It's best to have proper guidance if its your first time. The most essential thing I can pass on is to keep everything clean. It's critical to keep greasy fingers of of brake linings as they are impossible to clean if contaminated. Finger prints on drums and rotors (as well as grease on calipers and the braking plates of drum brakes) can be cleaned with special aerosol brake cleaners available at any part store. Do not use carb cleaners etc as these often contain petroleum products.
Centric is a VERY large brake component manufacturing company. They make just about everything needed for a proper brake job including pads, shoes, rotors, drums, and more. Their premium rotors have proven to be especially good (and come with e-coated hubs and vent edges to even make them look pretty). They have very low run-out (rotationally very true) which is a sign of a well manufactured product and reduces potential brake shudder problems significantly. I'm currently experimenting with a set of their semi metallic Posi Quiet pads on my Mazda6 and so far so good.
In your previous post you recommended two other brands for shoes and pads - which combination would be better vs Centric?
So the SS lines would definitely feel different but more or less the same modulation would be required over time?
I checked out C-F-M and as usual they have plenty of items.
Tirerack does not have any brake drums or shoes at this time...
What's the deal with the brake drum stud and/or other items that seem to be important on the drums, clearly I'm not well versed with the way a drum brake works or what is needed...
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