How can I Improve my vehicles braking performance?
Brake performance will be positively impacted by improvements in the following areas:
Assuming that you have good tires on your vehicle- the simplest, and most cost
effective improvement comes from BETTER BRAKE
- #1) Better Tires
- #2) Better Brake Pads
- #3) Larger Diameter Rotors (more brake torque)
What brake pads are the best?
The answer here is subjective. Only you know what you want out of your braking system. Some want more performance- some want less dust, etc... Every manufacturer that we carry is a 'class of the field' performance brake pad manufacturer. If there was ONE pad or ONE compound that was better than any other- then we wouldn't have all of these different manufacturers - would we?
In general, we always recommend using a high-quality, semi-metallic pad.
Semi-metallic pads offer premium stopping power and fade resistance. Many of the semi-metallic or hybrid pad compositions also offer very low dust and are noise free.
Lastly, I can tell you this: BRAKING IS A TRADE-OFF
You cannot have better braking performance with less dust and/or less rotor wear. If you want better stopping power- then that comes with the price of potentially more brake dust and more accelerated rotor wear. If you give up a degree of performance- then you can have less dust and less rotor wear
Why don't you recommend Ceramic Brake Pads?
Let's start by saying that ceramic brake pads have a place in the automotive industry. They were designed to be a low-dust, noise-free brake pad. They came into popularity after the discontinued use of asbestos-based brake pads. At that time, semi-metallic pads exhibited problems with higher noise and dust levels.
Ceramic Brake Pads were NEVER designed to be a performance brake pad! Some companies have done a terrific job marketing their higher-priced, ceramic pads to the consumer as a performance pad. Ceramic brake pads typically have lower friction coefficients, and act as an insulator - raising rotor temperatures in cast-iron disc systems. When you have a vehicle that has persistent braking problems- the last thing you want to do is install components that have a LOWER friction coefficient and that RAISE effective operating temperatures! See our section on how this can cause ' Warped Rotors "
Premium-grade semi-metallic or hybrid pads are more effective for handling elevated temperatures and dissipating heat away from rotors. Most, if not all, semi-metallic pads have a degree of ceramic content ALREADY IN the brake pad.
Premium-grade, semi-metallic pads can offer LOW-DUST, NOISE-FREE Performance without sacrificing stopping power and increasing rotor temperatures!
Most organizations with fleet vehicles and other extreme-service applications already know what we're telling you: High-quality semi-metallic pads offer the best combination of stopping-power and extended-wear of any brake pad type on the marketplace today!
Should I use the same components as specified as OEM?
OEM means Original Equipment
Manufacturer. Translation: A component manufactured
by a third-party company and selected for use
in the original vehicle. An OEM manufacturer
will typically manufacture their part based
on specifications and designs supplied to them
by the vehicle manufacturer.
Your vehicle manufacturer
selects components used in your vehicle based
on a variety of factors. These include PRICE,
quality, deliverability, and many others. In
most cases, the manufacturer will not select
the BEST product available. If all of the items
that went into your vehicle were the best -
your car would cost 5-10 times as much as you
paid for it! The manufacturers certainly make
decisions, in most cases, to use an adequate
product- that meets their demands for price
and quality. They may not use the cheapest component-
because it would result in too many warranty
However, there are thousands
of recalls every year for components which the
manufacturer has deemed defective. You can check
them out for your vehicle here:http://www.alldata.com/recalls/
The vehicle manufacturers make mistakes too!
In the aftermarket, you can choose from a range
of lesser-cost, lower-quality components OR
higher price, higher-quality components. You
have the choice! Just because it was specified
as OEM- it doesn't make it better!
All of the components
we sell are EQUAL TO or BETTER THAN the OEM
specification for the original component.
What causes brake pad failure?
There is no single answer to this question - there are simply too many variables.
However, in general, pad failure is caused by excessive heat. Brake pad compounds are designed to operate within a certain temperature range. When the pad is overheated to a temperature above what the material was designed to handle- it will wear at an excessive rate, crumble, decompose, and the like.
What causes brake pad glazing?
Brake pad glazing is caused when the brake
pad friction material is overheated.
This results in crystallized friction material
on the pad surface and the brake disc.
Typical symptoms of glazed brake pads include:
Poor stopping performance, vibration or brake
shudder, and cracks or fissures in the brake
Pad glazing is typically caused by operating
the brake pads at a temperature above the specified
temperature range of the friction material or
not properly following the 'Bedding-in' instructions
for the brake pads. Always follow the manufacturers
brake pad bedding-in instructions and use a
brake pad that has a temperature range that
is sufficient for its intended use.
What is better- Slotted or Drilled Rotors?
Again - this is a subjective question. As
they say- liars can figure- and figures can
lie. Proponents of both sides will espouse the
benefits of each.
We prefer 'Slotted Rotors' Why?
A few different reasons:
1) Many companies who produce aftermarket performance
rotors may not use the best 'blanks' to start
with. They do this because it allows them to
make the rotors at a lower cost and sell them
to you for less than other competitors- or,
this way, they can compete with the larger manufacturers.
Now, if you have a somewhat sub-standard rotor-
and then you 'cross-drill' it - What do you
think you're doing? Well, you're compromising
the integrity of the rotor by drilling completely
through the surface- and then it heats up- and
if it isn't a quality blank- made from quality
steel and alloy- What do you think happens then?
Well, more likely than not- it will crack. Remember,
we're not saying ALL 'Cross Drilled' rotors
2) Cross-Drilling (in most instances) removes
more braking surface area than slotting does.
3) A brake rotor is designed to do one thing:
Convert kinetic (moving) energy to thermal energy
(heat). What handles more heat- A cast-iron
kettle or a pizza pan with holes in it?
4) Can you think of any professional race teams
who still use cross-drilled rotors? Most importantly:
"You get what you pay for!"
If you buy a $20 set of brake pads or a $30
rotor- and then you have to change them every
5,000 or 10,000 miles - Is that really a bargain?
Why all performance rotors are not created
Some manufactures do not take the time to create
a program specifically for the rotor in question.
The result is that the machine has drilled though
one of the cooling veins and has compromised
the structural integrity of the rotor. SP Performance
creates application-specific programs for every
rotor that it manufactures - This insures performance,
safety, and reliability.
Incorrect programming and layout can cause
the drilling and slotting pattern to be non-symmetric.
To 'fill in the gap' additional randomly-spaced
holes had to be inserted to 'make the rotor
This can create a situation where the rotor
in question would be out of balance.
SP Performance ensures the highest quality and
performance by creating application-specific
computer programs for every rotor that it produces.
All SP Performance rotors are custom machined
by highly-skilled, factory-trained technicians,
and the rotors are computer balanced after manufacturing.
It takes a little bit longer and may cost a
bit more, but- ask yourself...... What would
you rather be riding around on?
Are Big Brake kits really better?
Big brake kits that are incorrectly designed
can actutally perform worse than your stock brakes.
Bigger pads and rotors primarily do one thing:
They dissipate more heat than the stock brake
setup. They do not necessarily stop you in shorter
distances. Stopping distances are impacted by
the coefficient of friction of the brake pad
used and the clamping force applied by the caliper.
Bigger brake pads do not apply more pressure-
they only apply the same pressure over a bigger
area. But- Don't take our word for it: www.stoptech.com/technical/balancedchart.htm
Note that the stock brake system on the 350Z
(non track model) utilizes a 11 3/4" front
rotor. For their test- they upgraded this to
either a 13" or 14" rotor!
So- you can put a 13" or 14" rotor
on the front of the car - and it still only
stops about 7 feet shorter than the stock 12"
We applaud StopTech- they seem like good people-
and they are one of the few companies providing
REAL information. They tell you exactly what
we told you earlier:
If heat dissipation is of primary concern- then
a big brake kit will reduce the rotor and caliper
temperatures. Otherwise, Premium Grade Brake
Pads with higher temperature range capabilities
and a higher coefficient of friction will provide
the best improvement in braking performance.
Can I use racing brake pads on the street?
Simple answer: NO.
If you use
racing pads for street driving - a few things
1) YOU WON'T STOP. In fact, you will probably
blow-through the first 2 or 3 stop-lights, stop-signs
and the like everytime you first get in your
car and drive it. FACT. Just like other brake
pads- racing pads are engineered to operate
at a CERTAIN TEMPERATURE RANGE. They will not
stop you for a hill of beans BEFORE they get
to that temperature range.
2) YOU WILL DESTROY YOUR ROTORS. Racing pads
are a much harder compound than streetable pads.
When these pads are cold- they produce an EXCESSIVE
amount of wear on the rotors. In some circumstances-
the pad material can be 'as-hard-as' - if not
'harder-than' the rotor material itself!
Take a look at a Formula1 race sometime- you
will see the team throwing out $1,000.00 Carbon
Fiber Rotors after every session - and the pads
are still good!
What makes Brake Pads work?
If you got to this section- You are a die-hard
braking fanatic! - Congratulations! Now onto
the SCIENCE OF BRAKING! ?
The simple answer is friction. BUT- that's only
part of the answer!
Brake pads work with a combination of TWO FRICTION
1) ABRASIVE FRICTION
This involves the braking of molecular bonds
between the pad material and the iron in the
brake disc. Pads that function on this basis
(typically organic pads) tend to have a high
wear-rate and low resistance to high-temperature
2) ADHERENT FRICTION
Adherent friction is developed when a transfer-film
of the same compound of the pad material is
deposited as a very thin 'film' on the surface
of the rotor.
In this instance, the friction is caused by
a breaking of molecular bonds between the two
like friction materials amongst themselves (one
on the pad and one on the surface of the rotor)
Most performance brake pad manufacturers now
manufacture pads that function as a combination
of these two technologies. These pads tend to
have higher coefficients of friction over a
wider range of temperatures.
All of the manufacturers that we carry - Hawk,
Ferodo, and Performance Friction use a combination
of abrasive and adherent friction technologies
to stop you safely- Whether it's going to the
corner store- or slowing from 220 MPH in a F1
or Indy Car!
You can benefit from the same technology that
race drivers like Jeff Gordon, Michael Schumacher,
or Michael Andretti use to stop their race cars
What causes 'Warped Rotors'?
Typically warped rotors are caused not by
a failure of the rotor itself. Warped rotors
(in most instances) are caused by the brake
pads being operated at temperatures outside
of their specified range. When the pads get
too hot the pad material actually melts and
'fuses' itself to the rotor surface and creates
a 'bump' on the surface of the rotor. In most
cases this is not noticeable to the naked eye.
This creates an annoying vibration when the
brakes are applied. The only solution to this
is turning (grinding) the rotors or installing
We do not recommend turning rotors: It removes
additional metal and reduces the the thermal capacity
of the discs.
The best way to combat this condition is to
use GOOD QUALITY street performance brake pads
which have a higher operating temperature range.
Properly 'bedding-in' the pads and discs is
When mounting new rotors- they should be installed on the vehicle and indexed with a dial indicator to minimize runout. New rotor runout is typically between .002" - .005" However, failure to mount the rotors ON THE VEHICLE and measure TOTAL runout can cause a vibration even with brand new rotors. You should check hub runout as well- since a very small amount of hub runout (even as small as .002") can create additional runout of as much as .006" - even with perfectly true rotors.
This is similar to mounting and balancing tires. Often times a rim and tire combination that would require additional weight to correct balance can be rotated and then require less or no weight to balance.
This means you should test the rotor in a number of configurations and install it in the configuration which results in the LEAST amount of total runout.
What makes my brakes squeak- and how do I
High-pitched brake squeal is caused by a high-frequency
vibration between the pad and the rotor. Brake
noise is not caused solely by the brake pad.
The brake rotor diameter, and stiffness of the
disc are also factors in the offending noise.
Metallic-Carbon pads (as opposed to organic
(asbestos) pads) typically produce more inherent
noise than the older organic pads. Different
brake pad manufacturers use different and varying
amounts of substances in their pads: Iron, Copper,
Zinc, Other Alloys, Lead, Carbon, Ceramic compounds,
Kevlar, and numerous other fillers. This variation
in pad composition, geometric design of the
pad, and the stiffness (density) of the pad
material itself can also contribute to the noise.
Lastly, all of these factors can be affected
by environmental factors such as temperature
Now, how do I fix it?
#1: Make sure you have straight and true surfaces
on your rotors and pads. Turn, or replace rotors
as necessary- do the same with the pads.
#2: Inspect calipers, caliper sliders, and all
other mounting surfaces and metal-to-metal contact
areas. (This includes the rotor to hub mounting
surface which commonly becomes contaminated
by rust and other debris!) Lubricate all metal-to-metal
contact areas with moly grease or lube. Inspect
complete system and make sure that rotors and
pads are lining up 'true' when brakes are being
#3: Apply anti-squeal moly lube or similar to
backing plate of the pads - or use an anti-squeal
shim between the pad and the piston contact
areas. This will change (dampen) the frequency
of the vibration and will help reduce the noise.
#4: Chamfering of the leading and trailing edge
of the pads will also help to reduce noise levels.
#5: Inspect related suspension components to
make sure worn components are not placing undue
stresses on the braking system, calipers, and
Do I really need these more expensive, premium-grade components on my car?
In most instances, car disc brakes and rotors
will last anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 miles
or more before needing replacement. If we estimate
on the conservative side- and say they only
last 30,000 miles- and the typical cost of premium
components (rotors and pads) may cost $300.00
That averages out to a cost of 1 CENT PER MILE.
Now, what does it cost to put gas in your car?
You pay probably $1.50 per gallon for gas- and
get approx. 30 miles per gallon. Based on that,
you are currently paying 5 cents per mile- just
That's over FIVE TIMES AS MUCH as you pay to
maintain the braking system on your automobile!
How much is it worth to maintain your vehicle's
proper braking operation, your safety, and have
the benefit of improved braking performance
over the lifespan of the components?
In fact- the true ADDITIONAL COST of premium
components is probably less then 1/2 OF ONE
CENT - since inferior replacement parts typically
do not cost less then half of the price of the
premium parts we sell.
The 'Lifetime Warranty' Myth
Some manufacturers and repair shops offer
brake parts with a 'Lifetime Warranty'. Why
do you suppose this is?
Without question, every brake component will
fail with eventual use. It is a wear part.
Could it be that these companies have an incentive
to have you keep coming back time and time again?
More disconcerting is this fact: Inferior parts
will fail sooner than Premium grade parts. Installing
inferior brake components will cause not only
the part in question, but also OTHER PARTS TO
You decide: Is it worth it to buy an inferior
part- and keep getting it over-and-over again
replaced for free- BUT have to pay labor, and
pay for other brake components that have failed
as a result of the part in question- OR
it be easier to buy the best, Premium Grade
Components and have them last?