Disc brakes

Brake replacement & upgrade options

It doesn’t get all the ink that performance technologies like engines, turbos and free-flowing exhaust systems do but the brakes on your car are performance items too.  Think about it, after you have invested in all the stuff that makes your car go fast, what good is it if it doesn’t stop fast. In this article, with help from Ken Garff West Valley, a West Valley, UT-based Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, we will look at the various options you have when you are modifying your vehicle brakes or just performing a routine brake job.

Performance vs Replacement

The first thing to determine is what level of performance are you looking for. Are you looking to perform a standard brake job on your regular car or upgrade the brakes on a performance car. In either case, the two main components to consider are the pads and rotors. Lets look at both.

Brake Rotors

Brake rotors are the flat circular discs that are part of disc brake systems. They are factory equipment on most cars today. If you have alloy wheels on your car, you may be able to see the brake rotors through the spokes. They are the shiny metal surfaces you see. If your vehicle is equipped with disc brakes, you have a few options for replacements.

OEM – These rotors will generally be your lowest cost option and are what most vehicles are equipped with from the factory. They are commonly made of iron. OEM style rotors will have a flat surface and can either come solid or internally vented.

Slotted – Slotted rotors have shallow channels engraved on the surface of the rotor. These channels help to dissipate heat and allow water to flow off  the rotor surface. Slotted rotors do, however, cause pads to wear down a bit more rapidly.

Drilled – Drilled rotors are built for performance applications. These rotors have dozens of holes drilled through them to maximising heat dissipation. They have a nice performance look to them too.

Brake Pads

Brake pads are the devices that squeeze the spinning brake rotors and create enough friction to slow them down.  The problem is that this friction wears them down over time and need to be replaced.  You are probably familiar with the term “brake job.” Replacing the brake pads is what a mechanic generally does when doing a brake job.  Brake pads are categorised into 3 main groups:

Non-metallic – Generally the lowest cost option, these are your standard pads. They perform well but usually don’t last a long time.  If you think that you will be selling or trading your car soon, these standard pads will work fine.

Semi-metallic – This is a mid-range option as far as cost and durability. These pads have a harder feel but will last a long time because of metallic threads embedded in them.

Ceramic – These higher cost pads are a performance option for most vehicles. Ceramic pads provide more stopping power than the semi- and non-metallic types while being extremely quiet.

Bet you didn’t know there were so many options for brake pads and rotors!  That being said, don’t be intimidated by the choices, your local dealer or mechanic can help you decide which is best for you’re your car.