May 9, 2007 update to the Mazda STS2 Miata project car

Braking news!

Our old, dead Carbotechs and a scored rotor
Hawk HP Plus pads and NAPA rotors
Vise grip and spare jack stand make the job much easier

As you may recall from our early build-up entries last year, we have been balancing our brakes front/rear via staggered compounds. In the front we’ve been running some generic parts store pads and in the rear were Carbotech’s 913 compound. Well, as you can see from the first picture, our Carbotech’s have finally given up the ghost. Given that, we decided to try out some of Hawk’s products since they are big supporters of SCCA Pro Solo.

Changing the rear brakes is relatively simple on the Miata, if you follow the factory service manual carefully. For example, make sure and back the piston out via the allen screw in the back of the caliper. Failure to do so can result in major badness (been there, done that, have a new caliper). Likewise, its also critical to re-adjust the piston position carefully after new pad installation as per the FSM, and then readjust it again after the brakes have worn in.

It’s also handy to use a vise grip to hold the pads in place while the spring clips are installed and the caliper lowered into position. Otherwise, it takes three hands. Use a spare jack stand to hold the caliper out of the way during this process and a lug nut to hold the rotor on the hub.

While we typically use OE Mazda parts only, we found good quality OE-spec rotors at NAPA for less than $15 each. That’s a LOT less than Mazda wanted.

We’ve been quite happy with the feel of the new combination, though we still have to heat up the rears to get them to bite early in the run. Driving up to the start line with the parking brake on does the trick. We’ll be trying some other Hawk compounds in the near future to try and avoid pre-heating.

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