Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
6/22/09 3:22 p.m.

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 not to say that everything parked in our stables is so well equipped. Some older cars weren’t quite as blessed from the manufacturer, while others have had their brakes mangled and neglected over the years—sometimes by a goodhearted previous owner trying to make things better, and other times by someone who was too cheap to do things correctly.

Whatever the cause for the diminished performance, we have 10 tips that will rejuvenate and maximize almost any braking system. In most cases, this work can be done in a day with basic hand tools.

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

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

dean1484
dean1484 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 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. 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.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
12/8/18 10:59 a.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

Brake dust is a sign that you are not a wuss.  Wear it PROUD.

 

 

rslifkin
rslifkin UltraDork
12/8/18 11:30 a.m.

In reply to wspohn :

On a car that sees street use but also some use that's harder on the brakes heat wise (like an occasional HPDE), a BBK can be helpful by allowing you to get away with less aggressive pads that are more streetable instead of having to use super high temp pads that don't work on the street and needing to swap pads (and possibly rotors). 

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
12/8/18 1:27 p.m.

In reply to 759NRNG :

never actually timed it but there is a 1/3 mile strait that I drag them pretty hard at 35-40 mph and I make three runs.  After the first you can smell brakes a bit by the third you can really smell them.  For cool down I drive at normal speeds 30-45 mph with minimal brake use (country back roads stuff). for 10-15?min or so.  Brakes are still warm when parked but you don’t smell them   

 

80sFast
80sFast New Reader
12/8/18 4:26 p.m.

Any places to find good tutorials on bedding brakes? 

tyronejk
tyronejk New Reader
12/10/18 8:58 a.m.

So what's the difference between glazed rotors and bedded rotors?

rslifkin
rslifkin UltraDork
12/10/18 9:23 a.m.
tyronejk said:

So what's the difference between glazed rotors and bedded rotors?

I'm pretty sure it's the difference between hot enough to cut into the surface a little and get some pad transfer (bedded) vs getting them too hot (glazed).  

gearheadmb
gearheadmb SuperDork
12/10/18 9:44 a.m.
MondoMike said:

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. 

The biggest problem i had with customer cars when installing ceramic pads was comebacks for noise. They liked to squeal. This was 8-10 years ago so they may be better now.

80sFast
80sFast New Reader
12/10/18 9:59 a.m.
rslifkin said:
tyronejk said:

So what's the difference between glazed rotors and bedded rotors?

I'm pretty sure it's the difference between hot enough to cut into the surface a little and get some pad transfer (bedded) vs getting them too hot (glazed).  

So how can you tell the difference?

gearheadmb
gearheadmb SuperDork
12/10/18 10:08 a.m.

Any doofus can slap a set of pads on, If you want to step your brake service game up, focus on fitment. Replacement pads are almost always tight out of the box. Clean up the corrosion and crud buildup where the pad contacts the caliper or bracket. If it has shims take those off and clean behind them. Check the pad fitment. It should be easy to move the pad back and forth with your fingers with little to no resistance. If they are still tight break out your file. The backing plate on the pad typically has a burr around the edge from the manufacturing process, plus a thick coat of paint causing it to be bigger than intended. Start filing until you get the proper fit. Then put a thin layer of lube where the pad contacts the bracket. I use antiseize.

Next make sure your sliders still slide. Take the pins out and clean them up good. Now this next part is important, those round slide pins many times ride in rubber orings. If you use a petroleum lubricant on a rubber oring it swells. Then your pins dont slide any more. So you know that little pack of synthetic brake lube the parts guy tried to sell you? It turns out hes not an idiot, or a corporate toadie. That synthetic stuff serves a real purpose. Use it on your pins.

If the last guy didnt follow these steps, and you do, you will feel an improvement in braking performance.  I hope this helps somebody.

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