How to improve braking performance (semi-DIY)

Discussion in 'News and Features' started by Izso, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. Izso

    Izso Boooooossst
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    How to improve braking performance (semi-DIY) part #1

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    The difference between life and death when in a vehicular emergency partially depends on how well your brakes work, paired with the condition of your tyres and the overall environment. Having had a near death life-flashing-before-my-eyes situation happen to me recently made me want to do something about my slushy brakes. I already am using super grippy nearly-semi-slick Yokohama AD07 tyres (and I suspect this was the only thing that saved my car from a serious accident) so the only thing I concluded that needed improving would be my brakes.

    So here I am discussing on ways to improve your car brakes. I realise there many ways to go about it but I'm specifically going to focus on minimal modification methods, ie-brake bleeding, changing brake pads, changing to steel braided brake hoses, performance rotors and servicing your calipers.

    As much as I get complimented for doing my DIYs, I still make mistakes. I have to thank Drexchan from EA Autoworks for being a great friend and helping me with this project which I'll be describing over 2 or 3 parts. Without his help I probably would have gotten myself into more trouble.


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    Things needed : DOT 4 Brake fluid, brake pads, cross drilled rotors, grease and tools. Caliper service kit is optional.


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    The first obvious thing is to loosen your wheel nuts and jack up the car.


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    It helps to clean the wheel well and all the bits and pieces there. I cleaned off the mud and baked dirt to lessen the chance of contaminating anything (or just basically to keep my finger nails clean).


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    Loosen (do not take out!) the top size 14 bolt (this bolt size applies to Myvi. May differ for other cars) and remove the bottom size 14 bolt. Open up the caliper to reveal the brake pads. Remove the pads and the metal brackets holding them in place.


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    Look carefully at how the brake hose connects to the caliper. The hook on the hose fits snugly at a certain angle in a carefully placed hole on the caliper. The hoses have to be aligned back exactly the same position when re-installing. Don't lose the size 12 bolt holding it down!

    Also, this will get messy as you'll be leaking brake fluid. So prepare the oil catcher box/thingy.


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    After that you can remove the top size 14 bolt and slide out the caliper and remove the caliper pins, brake pads and the metal brake pad brackets if you haven't already.


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    To remove the caliper bracket you'll need to remove 2 x size 17 bolts at the top and bottom.


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    So now you should be able to easily remove the rotor. You'll have the caliper bracket, caliper, 1 x size 12 brake hose bolt, 2 brake pad shims, 2 x size 14 bolts, 2 x size 17 bolts, 2 x caliper pins, 2 brake pad holder clips, 2 x caliper pin rubber boots and the bleed nipple and cover should be snug in your caliper. You can use a size 10 opener to open the bleed nipple to separate it from the caliper.

    This is for one side only. Do not lose anything!


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    Inspect everything and replace whatever that doesn't look good. In my case I replaced all my caliper pins (since the old Myvi's were famous for having problems with this), replaced the size 14 bolts too because the head was starting to wear due to overtightening. I even replaced the bleed nipple because I destroyed one due to overtightening as well.

    As a general guideline, the smaller the bolt, the less torque it needs to tighten it. So never overtighten otherwise you might spoil the bolt thread or head. I learnt the hard way.


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    If you look at the bottom of the picture, you'll see two pistons. This had to be pumped out from the 2 calipers with a pretty strong airgun. You need to aim the airgun at the hole where the brake hose was connected to and compress the piston out. Use a cloth to cushion the piston when it pops out, it'll be very violent! Obviously I don't have a air compressor at home so I went to my local friendly tyre shop and borrowed their gear.

    This step isn't completely necessary if the rubber bits on the piston is in good condition. Putting back the dust cover boot around the piston is a real pain in the you-know-where so do this only if you know how or if really necessary. I did it because I wanted to use the caliper service kit I bought.


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    I know this doesn't do nuts for improving my brakes but hey, they were out. Might as well take the opportunity to spray them black! High temp black no less!

    Take extreme caution to identify which is left and which is right. They are not the same!!


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    I had some old cross drilled, slotted and ventilated rotors lying around so I thought it'd be good to use them again. Performance rotors like these don't improve your braking, what it does is improve braking efficiency. To understand what that means you have to understand what the slots and drills are for.

    The cross drilled sections allow for gas to escape to lessen the chances of brake fade when under heavy braking. I'm not quite sure how the gas is produced but a quick Google will help you answer that. The slotted sections skim even layers off your brake pad to ensure a clean layer of the brake pad is in contact with the rotor. Essentially performance rotors help reduce brake fade. Bewarned though, more holes or slots doesn't mean it's better. It also means the brake pads have less surface contact with the rotor which means it takes more effort to brake so don't go drilling your OEM rotors just because you want to!

    (And yes.. I know the wrong side rotor is installed in this picture)


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    As mentioned earlier, putting the rubber bits back with the piston into the caliper is really difficult. It took me an hour plus to fit it in! I used some brake oil to slide the piston in and some high temp grease on the inside to stop or prevent rusting.

    Note : Be careful when using the brake oil. Brake oil will dissolve all the spray painting you did earlier!


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    This isn't absolutely necessary but I put some high temp grease before putting the shims back on the pad to be installed back into the caliper.

    At this point you should be able to reinstall the bracket, caliper pins, caliper, brake hose and the metal brackets holding the brake pads. Essentially reinstall everything you dismantled earlier in reverse order.


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    What I'm doing here is compressing the piston back inside using the inner side brake pad, the rotor and some leverage. I installed the inner brakepad, closed the caliper, positioned my flat screw driver in such a way I could lever it to push the pad which'll in turn push the piston back into the caliper.

    Ideally you should use a brake piston compressor or whatever it's called. It's easier and safer to use but since I don't have it, this 'bawah pokok' mechanic method will do.

    Finish up by installing both brake pads (inside and out) with the shims and all.


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    And there you have it folks. A completely serviced brake caliper with new pads.

    Now, if you have keen eyes, you'll notice the bleed nipple is facing downwards in this picture. That's because I had the wrong caliper installed. I switched the left and right calipers and that's a big no-no! Thanks goes to Drexchan for realising this and fixing the problem for me!

    To be continued : How to bleed your brakes.


    Btw, for those interested in changing pads, you can skip the parts where you have to remove the calipers and just focus on removing and reinstalling the pads. But read part #2 for more info.
     

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    #1 Izso, Sep 21, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
  2. tofu_manic

    tofu_manic Senior Member
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    neat write-up!
     
  3. VectorX2

    VectorX2 5 Year | Silver

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    brake piston compressor => Piston Spreader :proud:
     
  4. es2611

    es2611 Senior Member
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    first, excellently written!

    but one qs bro, i saw some cars installed their rotors the "wrong" side where the slits facing the opposite side. any chance of that arrangement will increase stopping efficiency?
     
  5. TitanRev

    TitanRev ModMod
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    I think the direction of the slots not that important. Is the venting vanes between the rotors are more important. I've run cross drilled/slotted disc on the opposite direction and it still bite very well..
     
  6. ddv_nk12

    ddv_nk12 5 Year | Silver

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    nice write up. valuable info with great pics.

    i would like to share what a mechanic told me once about brakes. he went like this "Jangan bawa sampai 180kmh. 160kmh ok lagi. 180kmh ada kereta masuk u punya jalan, apa l**c*u brake u pakai pun, mesti tak boleh berhenti, mesti hantam itu kereta".

    lol.. pardon me for the language. those were his exact words. what u think about it? i never experienced it and never want to experience it. anyone mind to share ur experiences on what he said?
     
  7. VectorX2

    VectorX2 5 Year | Silver

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    depending on the brake material and design, if the brake cannot operate in the temperature where a car travelling at 180KM/H producing at the rotor... den u hv no brakes... haha

    come to think of it... how does F1 car slow down if "apa l**c*u brake u pakai pun, mesti tak boleh berhenti, mesti hantam itu kereta" :proud:
     
  8. ddv_nk12

    ddv_nk12 5 Year | Silver

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    that is what i was also thinking to myself when he told me this. now i think i get it, we should use brakes that can withstand higher temperature in order to stop a car at high speeds. but the design and material is also important. guess the temperature is determined by the material used and its design rite?
     
  9. VectorX2

    VectorX2 5 Year | Silver

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    the factors that should be taken account is not speed exactly, but in some cases yes, as in the braking response, fast can the material and design and response at high speed braking, more importantly is the load that the brake is going to stop, of course the faster the speed you are at, the greater the force you need to stop the car, as well as the heavier the vehicle the more force is required, and the greater the force, the more force is converted in heat. thats why, we cannot compare a braking force between a truck travelling at 80KM/H and a car travelling at 120KM/H. different brake applications have different material and design... some brakes works best with lower temperature for average driving, some brake work at high temperatures for spirited driving and some for heavy duty vehicles where heat capacity is a concern since the amount force required to stop huge masses is larger.


    but i tink the guys actually means... if you're travelling at 180, in a standard street car, applying emergency brake, the car would skid anyway and hit the car that takes your lane...

    F1 has good aerodynamics, center of gravity and alot of downforce, braking from that speed would less likely skid than a average road car when braking at that speed
     
  10. ddv_nk12

    ddv_nk12 5 Year | Silver

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    thanks for the clarification. have a better picture now. appreciate it alot.
     
  11. drexchan

    drexchan Senior Member
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    Can't wait any longer for part 2.
     
  12. kcng

    kcng Senior Member
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    izso... its bawah pokok... not bawak pokok when translated literally means u bring a tree... LoL

    nice write up tho....
     
  13. chiewwl

    chiewwl Senior Member
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    even if u hv super duper braking system BUT u unable to brake in time while drivng 160kmh also 'mesti hentam itu kereta'...
     
  14. SE86

    SE86 Senior Member
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    good write up..
     
  15. drexchan

    drexchan Senior Member
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    I need to point out that a ratchet is not the best tool to loosen a big bolt such as those for the caliper bracket. A ring spanner plus a hammer (or your strong palm) is the best way to loosen them, and unscrew them with your two fingers. Use ratchet only if they are hard to be unscrewed out after being loosen up.
     
  16. ixeo

    ixeo Senior Member
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    cars on the Autobahn does speeds in excess of 200km like eating rice. my buddy's 330 does 260km/h day in day out (i sat in it), and other cars on the bahn does >200km speeds. my buddy is still alive.

    the problem in Malaysia is not speed, its driving etiquette (or lack thereof). remember, speed doesn't kill, sudden stops kill.
     
  17. Izso

    Izso Boooooossst
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    Well, if you have crap tyres, 30km/h will also kill you. My previous MY01 got me into so much trouble it's not funny. On the other hand my current AD07's saved my bacon.


    You know what? I lost the pictures of the brake bleeding. Gonna have to improvise.


    LOL!! Thanks. I failed malay in school... and I failed really badly.


    Good point. I used a fixed length tool to loosen the bolt but used the ratchet to remove it, which was when I took the picture.
     
  18. keegs

    keegs 5 Year | Silver

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    Cool write up. I agree with that. I was wondering how's the grip of the Neova(s) on wet road? Am thinking on which tyres to get next for my 15inchers.
     
  19. Izso

    Izso Boooooossst
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    You can't get AD07 anymore. Mine was one of the last batch of 14" tyres.

    Grip wise? I can't get the ABS to activate no matter how hard I try cuz the tyres just grips forever. It's so sticky it affects my FC... LOL
     
  20. jimmyae101

    jimmyae101 Senior Member
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    for better braking performance is use high performance brake pad,high brake oil,stell braking lining hose,and bigger pot or double it(from single to twin)with bigger rotor disc brake drill hose or line cut...(better buy original one,not self drill as i know it cant or not good enough to stop at high speed)
    anyway,thank for sharing ur great info about improve brake performance bro.cant wait what in next post
     

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