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Old 03-06-2010, 03:03 PM   #1
tittykaka7
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Default '04 WRX Brakes for track day - on the cheap!

I've been reading a TON on here about options to upgrade my 2004 wrx brakes for a track day. What I'm look for are comments from people who have gone through this and can now comment on the best option to get WRX brakes ready for track use. Please refrain from commenting if you have not tested your setup in real heavy braking / track situations, or if you just heard what works 'from a friend'.

The track I'll be frequenting this year has a couple sections where I got to about 120 mph in my WRX. Sessions run 20 minutes long and by the end, my stock brakes were smoking and shaking the steering wheel bad. I do NOT want to risk damaging my wheel bearings / tie rod ends etc as I have ready many people have done.

After reading on here for a while, I've come to the conclusion the stock WRX rotors simply are not big enough for extended track use. It seems like a couple options are STI brakes + STI wheels, or Wilwood 6 pot BBK. Both are fairly expensive even if used. Are these my cheapest options to have a track competent brake setup? Can anyone recommend other options that might be cheaper without risking frying my front end?
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:08 PM   #2
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A pallet of autozone front rotors. GOOD track pads and fluid. And home-made ducting. I also recommend the H6 rear upgrade.

How often do you track? What tires?

IMHO, by the time you get good/really into it, you'll want something other than a WRX. So don't dump tons of money into a BBK, etc. At least not until you really get into it, so much so that you're running a lot of events a season.

What pads did you use at your last event? The shaking was from pad deposits on your rotors, likely from cooking whatever pads you were running. Properly bedded track pads will resolve that issue for you.

As far as wheel bearings go, yes, you'll replace them "sooner", but we're not talking every 10k miles here, even for a regularly tracked car. You might just get 50k from them instead of 80, with fairly heavy use. People have had long wheel bearing life by packign them with better grease when they do replace them.

Last edited by SoapBox; 03-06-2010 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:36 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response.

I'll be tracking probably 3-5 times this year, 20 minute sessions all day so probably a good 2-3 hours of total track time.

Running Kumho Ecsta ASX tires. Brake systems / pads are entirely stock equipment.

I realize the WRX will not be a perfect track car, but my goal is to have this car be my daily driver and be competent on the track. I've got some 24mm sways on the way to help with understeer and tire roll.. will probably need to upgrade to STI wheels + better tires anyway so I'm wondering if used STI brakes will be the best option?
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:36 PM   #4
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I forgot to mention the most cost-effective upgrade:

Front LGT brakes. Almost STi sized rotors, much larger calipers with none of the cost.

Last edited by SoapBox; 03-06-2010 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by tittykaka7 View Post
Thanks for the response.

I'll be tracking probably 3-5 times this year, 20 minute sessions all day so probably a good 2-3 hours of total track time.

Running Kumho Ecsta ASX tires. Brake systems / pads are entirely stock equipment.

I realize the WRX will not be a perfect track car, but my goal is to have this car be my daily driver and be competent on the track. I've got some 24mm sways on the way to help with understeer and tire roll.. will probably need to upgrade to STI wheels + better tires anyway so I'm wondering if used STI brakes will be the best option?
On all seasons (for now) and only doing a handful of events a year, I'd certainly stick to disposable rotors (generic blanks) and good pads.

Once you add stickier rubber, consider the front LGT rotor/caliper upgrade. But again, for a handful of events a year, your money will be better spent on items that will increase your driving pleasure on the street as well as the track. Like tires, suspension, etc.

On an average track, at stock-turbo power levels, you can maintain strong, fade-free braking with stock rotors. You just have to invest in pads, perhaps every few events depending on your speed.

Rears pads should last a season or two (considering you # of events), fronts will last anywhere from 2 days to 10 days depending on the track, driving, and tires. Certainly closer to 10 considering your tires and experience level.

Keep in mind, these are pads you'll be changing at or right before the event, and changing out when you are done. Look at Carbotech XP8/10, Hawk HT10/blues, Ferrodo DS3000, etc. as solid, cost-effective track pads. They are expensive, but a necessity as your pace increases. Heck, even EBC yellows will be a big improvement for you, and they are as cheap as it gets.

I'm actually shocked your stock pads make it 3 laps let alone multiple sessions!



As for upgrading to STI wheels...if you upgrade your rotors and need 17" wheels, that's fine. But if you're staying on stock rotors, 16" wheels are cheaper, as are tires. A 225 50 16 wheel and tire setup can be had on the cheap. Pick up a set of stock wheels for $100-200, find any good deal on a decent summer tire and off you go.

Last edited by SoapBox; 03-06-2010 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 03-06-2010, 05:10 PM   #6
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Thanks again for your help.

My car is new to the track, but I'm not. I've taken motorcycles on this track many times, and I'm certainly not taking it easy on my car out there. I like to see how far I can push my equipment so I was smelling brakes after 4-5 laps (its a short track). At that point I'd drive slow and let everyone pass until they cooled off a bit, which caused me to break off some really fun competition.

Anyway, if I'm understanding you correctly your saying Legacy turbo brakes will bolt right up for me? I assume they fit with 16' stock rims? Then throw some track pads in and I'm set? Which pads have you found to be the best bang-for-your-buck?

P.s. my car is cobb stage 2, TBE & airbox removed. Koni adjustable strut inserts with STI springs.
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by tittykaka7 View Post
Thanks again for your help.

My car is new to the track, but I'm not. I've taken motorcycles on this track many times, and I'm certainly not taking it easy on my car out there. I like to see how far I can push my equipment so I was smelling brakes after 4-5 laps (its a short track). At that point I'd drive slow and let everyone pass until they cooled off a bit, which caused me to break off some really fun competition.

Anyway, if I'm understanding you correctly your saying Legacy turbo brakes will bolt right up for me? I assume they fit with 16' stock rims? Then throw some track pads in and I'm set? Which pads have you found to be the best bang-for-your-buck?

P.s. my car is cobb stage 2, TBE & airbox removed. Koni adjustable strut inserts with STI springs.
I don't think you should jump into the LGT brake setup just yet. After you've run a proper track brake setup on the stock rotors and calipers, then decide if you need something more.

The use of proper pads will be eye opening for you. You will not have to adjust your pace to allow your brakes to recover.

If you're not running Rcomps, or are on relatively small tracks, you may never feel the need to upgrade to LGT brakes (rotors, calipers, and brackets). If you decide to though, they require 17" wheels.

I recommend:

Cheap autozone front rotors (buy 2 sets to start, they will essentially be disposed of after 3-6 events if you're moving....which is fine because they are $30 each)
Good pads front and rear (see below)
Good fluid (ate blue for a cheap, good fluid)
and maybe SS lines

(also look into the "H6" rear brake upgrade (basically an inch larger rear rotors at very little cost, shifts some of the bias to the rear).

Pad list, starting with the cheapest (but still trackable):

1. EBC yellow front and rear (not a lot of bite, but they'll keep fade away especially on street tires)
2. Hawk Blues front and rear, or Blue front HP+ rears
3. Hawk HT-10s, maybe HP+ rears or blue rears
4. Ferrodo DS3000 (if you can even still buy them) front and rear, or DS2500 rear
5. Carbotech XP10's or 8's, maybe 10 front, 8 rear
6. Hawk DTC70
7. Not sure if Performance friction makes pads for your calipers, but if so, PFC01/6's are great.
8. Pagid yellow or above, if they make them.

Again, definitely start here before laying out all that money for LGT brakes and 17" wheels.
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:10 PM   #8
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If it were me I would go with the LGT fronts. They will help your bearings last much longer. I used them on my car with DTC60's and had plenty of brake and never saw the limit of them. I was on R's and never had to worry about my front bearings going bad. I bought a front set for $250 with rotors, resurfaced the rotors and bought the hawks to go with them. If your moderate or hard on the brakes and have no cooling to them. You maybe looking at new bearings within a few months after. I have seen farely new bearings go out after a weekend of tracking with WRX brakes. It's all about keeping the heat away from the bearing and hubs which also can go bad. The LGT rotors are the same as the STI in venting size and width but 10mm smaller in diameter.
My front bearings and hubs have seen 3 track days on R-Comps and many autocrosses on WIDE r-comps since Sept 2008 with no issues. I will probably replace them soon just too have fresh ones.
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:52 PM   #9
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If it were me I would go with the LGT fronts. They will help your bearings last much longer. I used them on my car with DTC60's and had plenty of brake and never saw the limit of them. I was on R's and never had to worry about my front bearings going bad. I bought a front set for $250 with rotors, resurfaced the rotors and bought the hawks to go with them. If your moderate or hard on the brakes and have no cooling to them. You maybe looking at new bearings within a few months after. I have seen farely new bearings go out after a weekend of tracking with WRX brakes. It's all about keeping the heat away from the bearing and hubs which also can go bad. The LGT rotors are the same as the STI in venting size and width but 10mm smaller in diameter.
My front bearings and hubs have seen 3 track days on R-Comps and many autocrosses on WIDE r-comps since Sept 2008 with no issues. I will probably replace them soon just too have fresh ones.
Just keep in mind he's on all-season tires. Even if he goes to summer tires...he'll still be building significantly less heat than you were.

While I think the LGT fronts are a great upgrade. This is a guy on a budget, who's most recent experience was with completely stock brakes (pads and all). Not only are the LGT bits going to cost him $$$, he will then be forced to run 17" wheels year-round. That's $texas.

I'm with soapbox, he's jumping the gun on rotor and caliper upgrades. He hasn't even tried proper pads, nor proper tires. He's getting ahead of himself.

And at only 3 events a year, the upgrade gets even harder to justify.
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Old 03-07-2010, 11:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tittykaka7 View Post

After reading on here for a while, I've come to the conclusion the stock WRX rotors simply are not big enough for extended track use. It seems like a couple options are STI brakes + STI wheels, or Wilwood 6 pot BBK. Both are fairly expensive even if used. Are these my cheapest options to have a track competent brake setup? Can anyone recommend other options that might be cheaper without risking frying my front end?
I'd go right to the Legacy GT set (front Calipers have to be from a 2005 or newer model, or from a Tribeca).

To stick to your budget, get them from a salvage yard. By now, the LGT has been around for 5+ years, should be easier than ever to find them.

The OEM Subaru LGT rotors are under $70 a pop from Nasioc vendors, and you may even be able to get them at a parts store in a pinch. Good luck getting Wilwood rotors or STI rotors at a part store if you have a problem at a track event.

Downside is you need 17" rims, but this is the cheapest solution that's going to give you the bigger rotor and should keep your front end bits lasting longer. Can't say how much longer.
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Old 03-07-2010, 11:29 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the comments guys.

While I think it might be possible for me to get by with stock system + good pads, I don't think that will be enough for the long haul.. I plan on going enough times that I will probably see the limits of my brakes again, especially since I plan on upgrading to better tires, might as well go for 17" rims since that setup will have less sidewall flex.

And it looks like LGT front end setup can be had for around $250, and I really like the idea of keeping everything running cooler. I know how damaging heat can be and would rather have too much brakes than not enough, or just barely enough.

Last question. Should I go for LGT brakes front & rear, or just front? Maybe LGT fronts with good pads all around? I want to save money, but I don't want to throw my braking way off balance either so let me know if this is a good / bad idea. Ideally I would love for my braking to be more balanced, closer to what it 'should' be for tracking.
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Old 03-07-2010, 11:55 AM   #12
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TI plan on going enough times that I will probably see the limits of my brakes again.
2.0l wrx's have been raced professionally on stock-sized rotors on race rubber. With the proper pads, you will not "see the limit" of your brakes, at least from a fade standpoint. Yes, you will be going through rotors and pads faster, but you will not see any on-track performance issues with sufficient pads.

Not advocating you don't go with the LGT brakes...

But you are on all-seasons with stock brake pads. You have yet to even try correct brakes on your car and you're already looking to spend serious $$$ for 17" wheels, etc. simply on assumptions, the biggest one of all not being true (that you will see the limits of stock sized rotors in 20 minute DE sessions).

Just trying to help you spend less money here!

Buying 17" wheels for less sidewall flex? If you're getting good track tires, the sidewalls will be plenty stiff in 16" sizes. For someone who says they want to be "on the cheap" you sure are looking for reasons to spend money!

Cheap guys drive to the track on their fancy 17s, and take them off to put on 16" track wheels!
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Old 03-07-2010, 12:07 PM   #13
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Haha.. ok fair enough. But I've currently got a spare set of 16"s with snows that I plan on selling anyway, I guess in my mind I'd be trading the stockers + all seasons and my snow tires / rims for 17" rims + sticky tires.
The deal I found on the LGT brakes is gone anyway, so maybe I'll just try some better pads.. seems like its a 50/50 opinion on here so I guess thats the cheapest thing I can try.

Thanks again guys!
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Old 03-07-2010, 12:25 PM   #14
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Haha.. ok fair enough. But I've currently got a spare set of 16"s with snows that I plan on selling anyway, I guess in my mind I'd be trading the stockers + all seasons and my snow tires / rims for 17" rims + sticky tires.
The deal I found on the LGT brakes is gone anyway, so maybe I'll just try some better pads.. seems like its a 50/50 opinion on here so I guess thats the cheapest thing I can try.

Thanks again guys!
I'm not really of either opinion. LGT setups are a cheap, smart upgrade. But if someone is on a budget, well, there are steps you can take before laying out all that cash. And you may very well be happy enough with it.


From a bias standpoint, I'll see if I can track down the excel sheet with all the data on it. An H6 rear upgrade might get you enough torque shift to teh rear to make up for what you're gaining up front with just front LGT parts. You may very well want to go with the rears as well though.
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Old 03-07-2010, 04:33 PM   #15
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I'd say try some expensive full race pads. They are actualy quite cheap in the long run. These cars are heavy, and hard on brakes. I DD on Ferodo DS2500, but need DS3000 up front at the local track.
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Old 03-07-2010, 05:41 PM   #16
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Having been tracking for almost 10 years here is my take...

Always upgrade your pads until you can't upgrade anymore, then and only then move up to larger rotors and or calipers.

For a WRX I'd go with Hawk HP+, if you burn those up, get DTC30s, and continue up the chain.

Also make sure (which I'm sure you have) you flush your brakes often if you are tracking it. Use ATE Superblue or Amsoil Racing Brake Fluid.

For rotors, we like to use Centric or Mountain Rotors which are just generic blanks but are a bit more superior than the stockers.

After that I'd move up to Brembos. As long as you are going to have to get 17" rubber and wheels you might as well spend the about $600-800 on Brembo fronts over the LGT calipers. Pads are easier to change and there is more range on what's available on them.

I did this process on my LGT. I exhausted every possible pad I could on the stock setup before going to the brembos. I got spoiled with my CTS-V 4-pots on track (coincidently same pads for the front of that as the STi).

-mike
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Old 03-07-2010, 06:49 PM   #17
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While I agree with your overall theory...

Spending $100 on HP+'s and DTC30's is just plain a waste of money for someone buying dedicated track pads. Even an averagely aggressive driver will quickly out drive those pads and be left wanting.

There is no good reason not to start with dedicated pads that are going to work for an intermediate driver just as well as they do for an advanced guy.

All the "real" pads mentioned in here are easy to modulate, etc. so what is the rationale behind starting with something so weak? We can post lots of threads about HP+'s not being up to snuff on a full-weight WRX.

Last edited by REX8; 03-08-2010 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:38 AM   #18
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Ok so if I go with just better pads, I'm now wondering which pads. I agree with REX8 it makes more sense to just jump to an advanced pad right away, since I'll only run them at the track anyway and would rather have more pad than I need than not enough.

I'm seeing pad names mentioned in this thread but other than SoapBox's earlier post, not much in terms of performance level VS cost.. which pads are the most cost effective 'advanced' track pad? DTC60? 70? Ferodo DS2500 / 3000? I'm not sure which to go with.
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:09 AM   #19
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Ok so if I go with just better pads, I'm now wondering which pads. I agree with REX8 it makes more sense to just jump to an advanced pad right away, since I'll only run them at the track anyway and would rather have more pad than I need than not enough.

I'm seeing pad names mentioned in this thread but other than SoapBox's earlier post, not much in terms of performance level VS cost.. which pads are the most cost effective 'advanced' track pad? DTC60? 70? Ferodo DS2500 / 3000? I'm not sure which to go with.
Staight cost to performance?

Can't beat DS3000's or HT-10's. They have been around forever, and while they aren't exactly state of the art compounds, they'll get the job done without you having to worry that they are holding you back.

Carbotech XP10s and Hawk DTC-70's I'd say are a step above, especially when it comes to rotor wear, modulation, dusting, etc. but you pay for those benefits.

Pagid Orange+, Performance Friction PFC01's, and possibly some Kobalts (not sure if they make D929 fitments yet) are getting into the pricey category, although are really nice pads. Again, I'm not sure they make all of these for the late 02-05 WRX front caliper.


You can use Hawk Blue or HP+, DS2500s, Carbotech XP8's, etc. as your rear pads to start if you're looking to save a little.

On the budget end of things, you can probably make Hawk Blues or XP8's work up front. Even EBC yellows can take some heat, although they don't exactly deliver a lot of bite when hot. Again, when it comes to pads, you largely get what you pay for.

Last edited by REX8; 03-08-2010 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:30 AM   #20
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I just wanted some clarification:

Not for autocross, but for track, as the OP was saying, go to 120 MPH on the straightaway, then slow down to 30, for the turn after that, and keep doing that over and over and over for 5-6 laps.

With THAT in mind, you guys are saying that you can getaway with stock brakes, on the '02-'04 2 pots, with getting the right pads and replacing rotors often, with good brake fluid?

Also, STi brakes will give you knock-back, no? What about LGT, are they not floating calipers?
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:59 AM   #21
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I just wanted some clarification:

Not for autocross, but for track, as the OP was saying, go to 120 MPH on the straightaway, then slow down to 30, for the turn after that, and keep doing that over and over and over for 5-6 laps.

With THAT in mind, you guys are saying that you can getaway with stock brakes, on the '02-'04 2 pots, with getting the right pads and replacing rotors often, with good brake fluid?

Also, STi brakes will give you knock-back, no? What about LGT, are they not floating calipers?
Yes, that is what we're saying. He'll go through pads and rotors relatively quickly, but he can easily keep fade away on all but the largest race-compound tires. 120 on a straightaway isn't exactly high-speed mind you (compared to larger road courses). He should have no trouble on an average road course, doing 20 minute sessions (that's more like 10-12+ laps including a warmup and cool-down).

Keep in mind, good pads have temp ranges well beyond 1400 degrees in some cases. You are simply not seeing those temps, even on stock-sized rotors. Stress-crack the rotors after repeated cyclings? Sure. Wearing through pads relatively quickly? Sure. Fade? Not so much.

The "real" calipers on the STI are prone to knockback yes, less so than on the sliders on the LGT. In any case, a little tap on the pedal with the left foot before entering the braking zone is all that is required to tighten things back up.
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:07 AM   #22
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Vlad, I don't agree with them at all but, whatever. HT10's are garbage. They crumble when they get too hot. I've had them crumble on my Brembo's. It would be worse on WRX brakes. EBC's are crap too. HP+'s are poor to marginal. Not enough pad for WRX brakes though.

XP-10/DTC-60's would be the minimum if you ask me.

Quote:
Also, STi brakes will give you knock-back, no? What about LGT, are they not floating calipers?
If you have knockback, you have bad wheel bearings. LGT calipers are 2 pot slidy calipers. Like large WRX calipers. The best thing about LGT brakes is the rotor is 30mm thick and nearly as tall as the STI rotors. The downside of the LGT's is they're heavy as hell. My LGT brakes were a match for my STI brakes. If anything, the LGT's felt better, I think because they were so ridged.

I think as a Newb, a decent set of pads and fluid will get you through your first 2-3 track events. As you speed up though, you'll outgrow them quickly.

My experience with the WRX is that it's a crappy track car without alot of work. If that's what you want, want to take a slow car and mod it to make it faster, then a WRX is pretty good for that. If you don't intend to make many mods, you'll be one of the slower cars on track.
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Old 03-08-2010, 12:04 PM   #23
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MK, thanks.

I'm only in this (track) to learn. When at the track, I was wondering about my brakes capabilities. I was most worried about them, to the point where I didn't allow myself to go over 110 on the straightaway.

I do have a quite good amount of experince with cars (including actually working in a shop) and my education is in this field too (mech. engineering). Also, I've owned a bunch of italian sports-oriented cars and did all my work. I'm a track beginner though.

My car is already not that bad, engine-wise, I'm making 300 WHP and I am begining to have some handling mods and drivetrain mods as well.

If I understand this correctly, knock-back is typical only for fixed calipers, I didn't think floating calipers had it. I think knock-back is probably seen only at the track.
I'm guessing that some fixed calipers show this more than others

I own a car with fixed, my Mercedes, had a Maserati, wife has a 328i. I own a car with floating, my WRX, had an Alfa, VW Scirocco, etc.
Floating is much easier to keep in top shape and much less likely to grab unequal left-to right, I think.

I need to add that I'm on 225/40/18's

Last edited by Vlad; 03-08-2010 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 03-08-2010, 12:09 PM   #24
MasterKwan
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Quote:
If I understand this correctly, knock-back is typical only for fixed calipers, I didn't think floating calipers had it. I think knock-back is probably seen only at the track.
I'm guessing that some fixed calipers show this more than others
This isn't true. WRX's are probably more prone to it because of their crappy wheel bearings but, pad knockback can happen to any style brakes. All it takes is for the rotor to wobble because of bad wheel bearings, and the pistons can get shoved back into the caliper. Fixed calipers might be more prone to it but, it happens to other types too.
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Old 03-08-2010, 12:15 PM   #25
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One little trick is to use Ti backing shims. They cut the heat from the pads to the fluid.
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