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Old 06-01-2010, 07:33 PM   #1
Scooby Guru
Member#: 23676
Join Date: Aug 2002
Chapter/Region: NESIC
Location: de_dust and Orgrimar

Default This is going to get a lot of you bent out of shape. RE: Brake upgrades


The point of this thread, since no one seems to be able to get this, and I will add it to the first post is

99% of people, with increased power, the only time they are going to need stopping power greater than what a bone stock brake/tire setup can offer, is when they are going down the road and have an "OH ISHT" panic brake situation.

And in that situation, there is no brake setup on the planet that will stop you any faster than the OEM pads/rotors/lines/fluid will.
The ONLY thing that will shorten that distance, is a stickier tire.

And for most people, they mod their car and they go out and rail on it from a stop or roll, usually in a straight line. The braking power they have to worry about is going to come into play

when they see a cop
When they hit a red light
When something is coming out in front of them
When there is some reason they need to get on the brakes hard and fast to avoid hitting something.

None of those things would see any benefit whatsoever, from upgraded pads,rotors, lines, or fluid, or any combination of them. Only a stickier tire is going to make the car slow down or stop in a shorter distance.

So, to be clear, if in an effort to make the message of this post look incorrect, you are posting something completely irrelevant if you

1. You bring up power gains
2. You bring up racing
3. You bring up anything other than the type of street driving that 99% of people actually do.
---Most people don't do canyon runs or anything similar to that.

Unfortunately, those 3 points above, encompass at least half the responses in this thread
Point is, stop trying to come up with situations that I am not talking about, just to make this post look incorrect, to justify what you spent on your brake kit. Maybe you do something that requires it, most people however, even with 400+whp, don't, and won't.

And just to make it clear once again.

For 99% of people with increased HP, the main brake performance issue is going to be

Panic braking in an emergency situation (be it a cop, old lady pulling in front of them, or just oh **** a red light)

When people talk about modding their car to make more power, someone almost always comes in and tells them that with more power, they need more handling and more braking.

While this is solid reasoning, its not always a necessity.

My personal philosophy is that when upgrading a vehicle, address everything, to maintain a nice balance.

However, there is a flaw with part of the logic of "if you upgrade one you must upgrade all 3 in order to remain safe"

If you go from stock, to 400whp, upgrading the brakes, IS NOT NEEDED AND YOU WILL BE NO SAFER THAN YOU WOULD BE ON STOCK BRAKES.

Now, I know a lot of you are now no longer reading this and are already forming your replies, and unfortunately many of you will base them on beliefs you have formed by reading what others have said on the internet, who only said what they said, because they read it on the internet. Or based on misconceptions. (some of you may have well thought out and solid arguements as well) Those of you about to say I am wrong, I assure you, are wrong. Please do me and yourselves a favor, and make sure you UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM SAYING before replying.

Here is the thing.

A WRX with @170whp (stock 2.0L typical) traveling at 10, 40, 60, 130mph, will take the exact same force to stop, as a fire breathing alcohol fueled 800whp WRX traveling 10, 40, 60, 130mph.

Take either of those cars, put a $14000 stoptech 8 piston f/6piston r setup, and do the same full boogie panic stops, and what do we get?


(now, lets leave heat induced fade off the table for now, as it isnt something that 90% of people that would argue that you have to upgrade the brakes would ever run into on stock brakes anyway) For the sake of this discussion, lets look at what people are really talking about. Panic stops, someone pulls in front of you OH ISHT nailing the brakes to avoid hitting them, stopping or the rate at which you can slow down enough to avoid impact (since you dont always have to stop)

Why is that?

What stops cars? What is the ultimate force that determines what point the traveling vehicle will no longer be traveling?

Friction. Not the friction between the pads and the rotors, but the friction between the tire and the road.

Now, lets take 2 cars again.

First WRX, 170whp, bone stock brakes. 225/45/17s in a dot legal R compound.

Second car, whatever WHP, and $7k in brake upgrades. Stock tires. Heck lets even say they went to stock STI 225/45/17 RE070s.

Send both cars down the same road, in the same weather conditions at the same speed. Have someone pull out in front of them.

Tell me, which one will stop short enough, or be able to slow down fast enough to avoid a wreck?

I bet more than half of nasioc would pick the car with $7k in brake upgrades. Those people would all be in an accident.

How does a car stop? Well, how does it move? What moves, that causes the big hunk of metal to move?


What gets a car off the line faster? Less wheelspin. WHat gets you less wheelspin? Stickier tires.

What gets you through a corner faster? More traction, what gets you more traction? Stickier tires.

Just like when you are trying to accelerate a vehicle, the amount of grip the tire has on the road, will determine how fast you can get moving forward (or backwards if you are a launch in reverse type of guy ) Its the EXACT SAME THING when trying to slow or stop.

OEM brakes have FAR more than enough power to lock up even a big wide sticky r compound tire.

People like to cite that the STI has a shorter stopping distance with its Brembos. The brembos have nothing to do with it. The RE92s have everything to do with it.

So a lot of people at this point, will argue that "well then why do they put brembos and big brakes on sports cars if they dont stop you any shorter"

The answer is intended purpose, and as much as many people dont want to believe, LOOKS/CUSTOMER PERCEPTION.

The "intended use" for the STI is hard performance driving. Track days, racing, its a car with actual motorsport use in mind. Even if they have watered it down and softened it for normal day to day use, its still a car that was built for motorsport use.

Big fixed mount calipers with lots of pistons, and large diameter rotors offer something a floating caliper with normal sized rotors dont offer. Mass. More mass=more resistance to heat induced fade. They also offer a more consistant and precise pedal, which allows finer braking control into corners.

They also offer a look. Like the new WRX, look at how many people complain that they "downgraded" the brakes. When in fact, from a stopping distance standpoint, there is no change.

Look at the competition for the STI, the EVO. What would happen to STi sales if they removed the brembos and the EVO kept them? That would sway those people who are on the fence, a little more towards the EVO.

Finally, lets look at the group-N STI rally cars. What brakes do they run?

That's right, not the Brembos. They run the older FHI 4 pot/2 pot setup in order to clear the smaller rally wheels. Yet they stop JUST FINE.

Lines, well lines are, from a stopping distance and fade standpoint, completely useless. Nail the brakes, things lock up rubber or steel lines makes no difference. Heat the brakes up, stainless lines have nothing to do with anything.

What lines DO get you, is a more consistant pedal, allowing more precise control.

Fluid, unless you are doing repeated hard braking enough to boil normal fluid, going to "upgraded" fluid, is a waste of money, and $18/bottle motul wont get you anything that $3 autozone fluid wont.

Rotors? NEVER an upgrade unless your factory rotors are damaged/very worn. Or if you go to a larger diameter rotor. Even then, that will only increase the amount of force per bit of pedal travel, to the point where they just lock up. Which would have happened on OEM sized rotors anyway. Slotted/drilled, at this point, is pointless and is for looks. Modern pads dont off gas like they used to, so having the slots/dimples/holes to vent off the gasses, well there is no need. Not only that, but 90% of drilled rotors will end up cracking. So if you want the look, GO FOR IT!, but buy a rotor that was cast with holes, not a solid that was drilled after. Break out the wallet though, and be prepared to search, not many people carry them and they arent cheap. If you do shows, do what I did, carry a set of $99 ebay cross drilled rotors with you and slap them on at the show. It takes 20 min.


No, it doesnt. It has a lot more INITIAL BITE.
95% of people will mistake initial bite and/or decreased pedal travel, for the ability to stop shorter.

A locked tire is a locked tire. And while big brakes can lock a tire without having to push the pedal as hard, stock brakes can still lock the tires instantly if you nail the pedal. Therefor, stopping distance and rate of slowing down, is unchanged.,

So what can you do to make the car safer if you up the power?

Well, for one thing, if you are driving responsibly and within the law, why do you need to upgrade the brakes at all? Ok so obviously that is a dumb point to bring up

No but seriously, you upped the power and you want the car to be able to stop shorter

Well, as we have established, the grip of the tire on the road is the ultimate determining factor, so you want wider and or stickier tires. Preferably, both.

There is another aspect to look at too. Weight. A heavy object takes more force to accelerate or decelerate than a lighter one.

Put your car and yourself on a diet.

I think its hilarious that someone adding 50whp, and refusing to upgrade the brakes, is shunned and flamed, yet someone adding 200lbs of stereo gear/other things, no one even mentions the brakes. Rest assured that 200lbs of weight WILL increase stopping distance measureably.

Handling, thats another story altogether. A car that handles better is always safer than one that doesnt. In fact if you are so worried about safety, handling should be your first priority. Guess where the very first place you should look when it comes to handling Yup, those same black round things that will make you stop shorter.

This is a bit of a mind dump, so forgive me if it jumps around a bit or if I missed something or repeated myself.

Ill add more or edit it as needed when I get a minute.

Last edited by Davenow; 11-01-2010 at 02:24 PM.
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