By on April 30, 2014

John writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’ve had a 2009 Dodge Caliber SRT4 for a few years and it’s coming up to its first all-around brake job at 50,000 miles / 80,000 km (I drive like a granny). I work at a dealership (different brand) but can get parts at a bit of a discount. Still, OEM brakes + pads on this thing are $980+tax Canadian. From what I’ve seen I can get aftermarket ones for a quarter of that. One of the mechanics here suggests I put on OEM pads and aftermarket discs.

What do you recommend? Any good aftermarket manufacturers who meet or exceed OEM standards? I know with this car you’ve got the weird fake differential that uses braking to adjust for wheel slip, would non-OEMs eff this up? When I private sale this next year, will having aftermarket brakes effect the resale value with the type of people who buy these cars?

The car has been surprisingly reliable, but I’m only doing 8,000km a year. Debating getting employee pricing on something more…Swedish.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Sajeev answers:

I’d be shocked if Chrysler makes the brake bits that rest in their branded boxes.  Brakes, like many other parts, are usually made to OEM specifications by a third party supplier. Which is great, except when it’s not. A few thoughts lifted directly from my experiences:

  • Brake pads: high quality ceramic street pads from any parts store (i.e. not the cheapest) stop, leave similar amounts of dust and be silent like an OEM pad.  Plus, if you know a bit more about materials, you can choose an aftermarket pad’s composition (organic, ceramic, semi-metallic, full metallic, etc) to tune the brakes to your particular needs.  I prefer carbon metallic pads, as I’m easy on the brakes (Houston is flat, and metallics heat up quickly here) and they do an amazing job when I do need them.  If not, maybe ceramics are more your speed, so to speak.
  • Brake Rotors:  Even though the dudes at the parts counter swear that the pricer USA-made rotors are better,  I’ve had amazingly good luck with the cheapest, Chinese-made stuff. Perhaps it’s partially because of a friend that tows for a living; he mentioned they are all the same, too.  IMO, the USA made stuff has nicer machining around the hub, but that’s about it.
  • Brake Rotors II: Avoid the ricey aftermarket slotted/drilled rotors (crack prone) and stick with the conventionally vented units.  High Performance cars may have factory drilled/slotted rotors, and if so, stick with OEM just to be safe.

With this in mind, let’s answer your questions:

 1) What do you recommend?

Your car’s rear brakes are like any other Caliber, so I’d recommend any high quality ceramic pad on a cheap replacement rotor. Since the fronts are lifted from the Chrysler LX cars, get a cheap LX rotor and your choice of pad.  Me personally?  Get semi-metallic (carbon metallic) pads all around, especially since a common upgrade for the SRT-4 appears to be the same semi-metallic pad used on the LX Cop Cars.

2) Any good aftermarket manufacturers who meet or exceed OEM standards?

I’m not interested in endorsing one big name pad manufacturer over another for pads. They are all good, and I have yet to regret owning cheap rotors.

3) I know with this car you’ve got the weird fake differential that uses braking to adjust for wheel slip, would non-OEMs eff this up?

I seriously doubt it. But that’s a question for the forums: do some homework, don’t listen to me.

4) When I private sale this next year, will having aftermarket brakes effect the resale value with the type of people who buy these cars?

I think saying that you upgraded to semi metallic pads like the LX Cop Car is a huge plus given the intended buyer.  So maybe you should listen to me.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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83 Comments on “Piston Slap: High Caliber Aftermarket Stoppers?...”


  • avatar
    carrya1911

    I’ve always had good luck from Hawk Performance Street pads. The key with any of them is to properly bed the brakes when you do it, as that makes them dramatically more efficient. Also don’t forget to bleed the brakes.

    Doing those two things will yield much better pedal response and a lot more stopping with less pedal travel.

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      Bleed the brakes, why? If the hydraulic system hasn’t been opened (at the lines/calipers) and air induced, why should they need to be bled? I get the whole flushing the system to replace the old brake fluid but not bleeding. Thx.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        The only reason I can think of is if you’ve opened the bleed valve to make it easier to push the caliper back in place. If you didn’t do that, I can’t think why you’d need to do a brake bleed either.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        One thing I consistently see people doing is forcing the piston back into the caliper without opening the bleeder. That invites the chance of debris being forced back into the brake line potentially clogging the line or damaging the ABS unit upstream. So its probably good practice just in case if properly servicing the brakes.

        I wasn’t aware of this until I read an article in a trade magazine some years ago. In the article it discussed the problems of a tech rushing through the job by taking shortcuts and the issues that might pop up. at a more honest shop it would be loss in time and money having to replace the ABS unit as a good faith repair.

        However I suspect most techs aren’t aware of the problem they create when simply forcing the piston back into the caliper without opening the bleeder so it just ends of costing the customer who thinks the ABS unit failed on its own.

        In my case a set of rotors and pads lasts about two years so when I do a brake job the system gets flushed anyways as Ford recommends flushing the fluid around a two or three year period.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          You’ll be hard pressed to find a mechanic who’ll open the bleeder when pushing the piston back in for 2 major reasons.

          1. Flat rate doesn’t pay for a brake bleed on a pad/rotor swap
          2. If the car’s ever spent time in the rust belt, you generally don’t touch the bleeder screw unless you have to for fear of braking it off and potentially ruining a caliper.

          I agree its a good idea to bleed the fuild at the caliper end during regular service, but it’s usually more trouble than it’s worth. If there’s “debris” in your braking system’s hydraulic circuit, you have bigger problems and a full flush is required.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            That’s funny, as all of the mechanics I know in my area DO open the caliper bleeder screws when resetting the piston. But I do live in the PNW where rust typically isn’t an issue.

          • 0 avatar

            yeah, no way. If I’m doing pads and rotors I don’t touch the bleeder. If I’m flushing the brake fluid (Volvo does every 37.5) then I do. Why do extra work you’re not being paid for? Just open up the reservoir, compress in the pistons, slap in pads, on your way

            Of course nothing ruins my day faster than rear brakes on a car with an electronic parking brake where the inner pad is metal on metal. Sigh.

        • 0 avatar
          Kinosh

          You hit the nail on the head. I’ve effed up an ABS sensor myself.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        How would you replace the brake fluid in the system without bleeding?

        Generally you change/bleed the fluid during a brake job because it’s a convenient time to do so, not because the actual job introduces any air into the system. Brake fluid is hygroscopic (absorbs water) and for this reason needs to be changed occasionally (manufacturers suggest every 2 years). Failing to do so can result in rusted components in your brake system over time, and will definitely lower the boiling point of the fluid. Boiling fluid = gas bubbles = your brake pedal will sink to the floor and do nothing when you need to slow down the most. For this reason, racers will often bleed their brakes before every event. I try to do mine annually.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick Astley

        You guys do realize that brake fluid will absorb water and has a nominal service life, right?

        Here is your very generic answer:
        http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/brakes/brake-problems/air-in-brake-line.htm

        Long story short, for the camry driver out there a 2 year service life would work well. I flush my fluid after every track day (only own one car so it serves duty at the track and to work the following day) and every spring.

      • 0 avatar
        jrhmobile

        Bleed the brakes because you should periodically replace the fluid.

        Brake fluid is hydrophilic, and just loves to drink any moisture up. Since water can be easily compressed, this results in a softer brake pedal, the potential for corrosion and damage to rubber-line parts of your system. It generally doesn’t result in brake failure, per se, but it can aggravate other factors, over time tat will result in brake failure.

        Cycling fresh fluid to replace the older fluid in your braking system firms up the pedal and should provide you better results — even if the old fluid has been in the sealed system for five years or so, in the case of our OP.

      • 0 avatar
        Jacob

        I heard bleeding brakes sometimes is a good idea because the fluid can “cook” when the brakes are overheated, and then it can lose its properties. In such cases, flushing the whole brake system may not be necessary because the brake fluid in the reservoir did not overheat, so it’s still good. Personally, I always try to flush all fluid when I change worn out brake pads.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I’m not going to doubt you’re experience but I had hawk performance on my Crown Vic once and it was a sad experience till I could replace them with Red stuff brakes again. I think everybody has their own preference and Hawk performance felt soft, it didn’t have that immediate bite I prefer in my brakes.

  • avatar

    Really? Recommending Chinese parts ?

    I have learned the hard way that you go OE, or OE supplier, unless you are doing brake mods.

    Agreed with the slotted/drilled. You stop like God himself is grabbing you, for 12k miles, at which point you have issues, or your pads are cheese grated.

    No matter what you use, degreaser on the discs-make sure they are clean when installed….I use gloves.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I have ordered many auto parts direct from Pacific Rim via eBay with no problems. Actually most non-electrical parts today are from China. I thing that brake rotor foundery left the US over a decade ago.

    • 0 avatar

      Well if the solid rotors from China gave me (and my buddy that tows large trailers) an ounce of trouble, I wouldn’t recommend them.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Sorry, Sajeev, but the “El Cheapo” China rotors from Ebay, Auto Zone, et cetera, are not the way to fly, my friend. The few bucks in savings is deemed insufficient in comparison to the subpar quality (warpage, warpage, warpage) and longevity.

        Although if you drive a lot, and I mean a whole stinkin’ lot, you could do the Auto Zone hustle, and buy their cheap stuff rotors and pads and get said lifetime warranty option.

        In other words, buy them, use them up, and replace, courtesy of Auto Zone.

        But boy, are they cheap. Prepare … for the wear…. if you don’t mind doing your brake jobs every year and a half or so.

        I’ve had excellent luck with Brembo blanks and even the slotted EBC’s.

        Avoid the drilled rotors. Those just look “purdy”.

        • 0 avatar
          ellomdian

          I’ve seen far too many pictures of Chinese rotors with premature wear, internal defects, or serious problems with the hat.

          Give me Zimmermann discs over no-name Chinese iron any day.

          • 0 avatar
            Jacob

            Except for a few boutique brands, all rotors are Chinese, including most of those sold on Ebay and Amazon, including those made by reputable brands, like Wagner or Centric. So guys, get over the Chinese made rotors already. Just because there exists a picture of one bad part does not mean that all Chinese rotors are garbage. Personally, I had no issues so far with AutoZone duralast, NAPA, or O’Reilly rotors. I wouldn’t be surprised if they all come from the same Chinese company.

        • 0 avatar

          “But boy, are they cheap. Prepare … for the wear…. if you don’t mind doing your brake jobs every year and a half or so.”

          Except not in my experience…for around a decade of use on multiple vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      Over the years I’ve done in the hundreds of brake jobs, including my own cars, with aftermarket Chinese rotors. Though these definitely look cheaper than their OEM counterparts (through superficial inspection of metal grain and machining marks/quality at least) they have never given me an ounce of trouble or had reduced life compared to OEM.

      For my own cars, I’ve always used top-of-the-line Napa brand pads and rotors, and never had problems with them. The key here, for any brand is to go for the higher end version of whatever aftermarket pad they sell.

  • avatar
    Exfordtech

    Nearly $1k for a four-wheel brake job? What is the parts/labor breakdown? Are the rotors beyond resurfacing? If not, and your dealership has a good on the car lathe (Pro-Cut is recommended by most OEMs) I would think you could get it done cheaper than that. Am I missing something with Canadian vs US pricing?

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      There is nothing surprising here. A set of premium brake pads + rotors from a chain parts store is probably going to cost in the neighborhood of $150-200 per axle. The OEM parts, with that nice 300% dealer markup, will probably cost twice as much per axle, and then add a few hours of that precious $100 per hour dealership labor, and you get $1000 brake job. A chain repair shop will probably charge the same. They buy parts from chain stores, then add a nice premium to the price and still change you a lot for labor.

    • 0 avatar
      jeano

      The local (Canadian) Dodge dealership wanted $2000 for 4-wheel rotors and pads on her Ram 1500.
      I bought premium rotors and pads from Rock Auto for $390 and did it myself. Their hourly rate must be spectacular.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnnyFirebird

      I called several parts stores and Dodge dealerships. The Dodge dealer I first talked to said $1200 plus tax, the parts stores I talked to said $980 plus tax, the cheapest I heard was $880 plus tax through my dealership’s parts department.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    John,

    One thing. You will have pretty much the EXACT SAME performance for the next 50,000 miles that you have had during your first 50,000 miles by using the OEM-stuff.

    Keep in mind, even the OE Rotors from many manufacturers are sourced from China but with closer tolerances.

    Don’t feel like “experimenting” then go back the the OE.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    With the right buyer, a fancy-looking brake system can be a plus. (Some people like painted calipers, for instance.) But barring cosmetics, it makes no difference unless somebody specifically asks about brakes. I imagine most people that are asking about brake brands are just looking for confirmation that you didn’t use bottom-shelf pads.

    I’ve used Akebono’s (on a Solara), Wearever (Advanced Auto) Golds (on a Caravan), and PBR/Axxis Deluxe (on a Passat), and all have been fine, and all for a reasonable price. The Toyota and Caravan got Wearever rotors, and the VW got plain-faced Brembos.

    Speaking for myself, I’ve had perfectly fine luck lately with Chinese “White Box” rotors from a chain auto parts store. Make sure they are around the same weight as the originals and appear to have a similar number of fins (if applicable) and you should be good to go. I imagine that while there are some sub-par batches that come out of the factory every once in a while, no auto parts store that consistently sells parts that result in come-backs will stay in business long. (Frequent come-backs are a really fast way for even the cheapest brake-n-lube to take their business elsewhere.)

    A good pad requires a quality compound that simply isn’t going to be used on a bottom-line pad. A good rotor only requires the correct amount of cast iron and a machine operator that isn’t completely asleep. As long as you aren’t buying your rotors from some random schmuck on eBay, you’ll almost certainly be fine.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “A good pad requires a quality compound that simply isn’t going to be used on a bottom-line pad”

      This. There are significant differences here. An excellent way to test the quality of brake pads was at Gingerman raceway on our 24 Hours of Lemons car. Once we cooked our last set of ceramics, the local Autozone only had cheapies in stock so we took 2 sets just in case. 1 hour on the track and the cheap pads went from brand new right down to the metal backings. Brake dust was just pouring out of the wheels as it rolled into the pits.

      Those parts obviously weren’t meant to withstand those kinds of conditions, but obviously they wouldn’t last anywhere near as long on the street as a quality lining

      • 0 avatar
        JohnnyFirebird

        The calipers are already nice and red, stock! I got what seems to be a good deal on StopTech slotted rotors though Sajeev says they’re not really worth the extra cash. (I am definitely keeping the HPS pads I got with them.)

        The only plus of the slotted would be that the presumably late-teens type who I’ll sell my car to next year might really dig them. I’ll just park inside this winter to spare the rotors.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Sajeev adequately covered the parts issue, you’ll be fine with quality aftermarket parts. Don’t spend a grand at the dealer for this stuff. While it’s not all standard grade Caliber stuff, it is all Chrysler parts-bin stuff.

    Regarding your brake-lock limited slip differential, this is nothing but a different way of using your car’s ABS system. Rather than trying to eliminate wheel slip, this system will apply the needed amount of braking to equalize the wheel speeds. Think of it as a limited slip differential, but the clutches are on the wheel hubs instead of in the differential itself.

    There’s nothing particularly fancy about it that could be screwed up by using aftermarket rotors as long as they are to OEM specs.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Do you actually need brakes? At 50k miles my pads usually still have 3/4 – 5/8 of material left.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      I only needed pads and a resurface at 80k and I drive like a jerk.

      Either the Caliber goes through pads pretty quick, or the OP is the type that brakes on the highway (admittance of granny driving in evidence.)

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I was wondering if it was actually a recommendation made in the manual or from actually looking at the pads.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnnyFirebird

          I bought it used in 2011, so I have no idea how they were driven before 20,000 miles – but the front pads were at 3mm last time it was on the lift (September), and the rears were at 5 last year.

          I’ve only put about 6,000 miles on the car in the past two years, I just park it for the winter and take the train to work at the car dealership. Something odd happened when I had it parked outside for two months – the rotors got caked with mud and the surface now produces heavy vibration at speed, and there’s a big black outline around where the pad rested during those months. Perhaps a good brake resurfacing would work? They’re not rusted at all. The pads definitely need changing though.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Worth investigating. Though my little Honda is the opposite of sporting, I was told by the dealer that the rotors could usually be resurfaced multiple times and that they were relatively overbuilt. For how long it all lasted, I believe it.

            The new pads will want a nice surface to hold on to, I’d guess if the pads are very worn there’s probably grooving but obv. haven’t seen it. I also don’t know if the SRT rotors would take well to resurfacing but I don’t see why they wouldn’t, they’re probably of reasonable quality.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Gravity’s Rainbow, right? I’m about halfway through it…I think about it everytime I see your username. Forgive the tangential comment. Thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Brennschluss?
          Had to look it up.

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          Absolutely, at least in part, though I spelled it wrong. Good catch. Enjoy the book, it is my favorite.

          There is a Hand to turn the time,
          Though thy Glass today be run,
          Till the Light that hath brought the Towers low
          Find the last poor Pret’rite one…
          Till the Riders sleep by ev’ry road,
          All through our crippl’d Zone,
          With a face on ev’ry mountainside,
          And a Soul in ev’ry stone…

          That’s never leaving my head.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Depends on the driving cycle and the type of pad used. I’d hazard a guess that on the SRT vehicles Chrysler uses a fairly aggressive pad which can wear down pads and rotors fairly quickly even in normal driving.

      My car was equipped in this manner and when I replaced the rotors and pads (in this case DBA rotors and Hawk HP+ pads) I received virtually the same amount of service life with what I thought was a bit more aggressive pad with roughly around 30-35k mileage in each instance with a mix of rural and city driving.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I was going to say maybe he should buy a Camry if the brakes on a car like that lasted so long…I get 30K tops on my fun car; 50K out of my hybrid.

      I second Hawk pads, and I use Brembo replacment rotors. And yes, this is the time to swap fluid.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnnyFirebird

        I’ll make sure they do that, thanks!

        I was honestly thinking of leasing a TDI Beetle with a DSG if I don’t go for a V60, although Sajeev would definitely shake his head in despair at this idea.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I use Napa brakes foe replacements. I avoid the low cost replacements for various reasons, which may or may not be accurate. The main reason is brakes are really important as my wife and kids are ussually sitting ‘above’ them. I generally assume the cheap brakes are Chinese knock offs not made with OEM specs.

    I agree with the above questions, why would you need new rotors already? Have you mic’d them? Pull them, turn them, and reinstall them with new pads and you are golden. If they need to be replaced……perhaps you are not the granny driver you purport to be.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      All of parts store brakes are Chinese made, including the ones sold at NAPA. Get over this.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Possibly not true, Volvo OE rotors at least claim “Made in Sweden”, as does alot of the aftermarket stuff I have purchased from IPD. Now whether Volvo Cars buys the parts from China and repackages them I can’t be sure.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnnyFirebird

          It’s funny, when I suggested putting aftermarket brakes on a high mileage 2004 S60 everyone at the dealership looked at me like I was some kind of infidel. I’ll ask the parts guys where they come from.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        Quite possibly, but I ask every time and the box the parts come in have a manufactured stamp from somewhere other than China. Of course, this could mean the box was made elsewhere and the Chinese parts were put in said box. I guess you never know these days.

        But, I can’t get over the crap products they send over to our shores in some instances in the name of lower cost. I will happily pay more for the assurance the product was made in a responsible manner. Perhaps I am fooling myself on this though.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnnyFirebird

      The rotors seem to have warped due to leaving my car sitting outside for a couple of months. I’ll take a picture of them when the wheel’s off. The mechanic suggested I replace them.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I was wondering the same thing. Granny or maniac, why would you need to replace the rotors?

    -edit this was supposed to reply to Hummer’s comment.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Rotors wear out with time. First they become thinner, which reduces their resistance to overheating. But the bigger issue is that old rotors loose their smoothness. Find a car with +40,000 miles on the same rotors, and swipe a finger across the surface when the rotor is cold. On an old rotor, you can feel deep waves and groves as you swipe from the interior towards exterior. This reduces the adhesion with the brake pad and eventually car will start to stop like crap, specially when wet. I personally recommend to change rotors every time you change brake pads. A typical rotor lasts longer than a brake pad. However in most cases, it doesn’t seem the old rotors can outlast the second set of pads, so for about half of the life of the second set of brake pads you may be driving on rotors that are shot.

      Considering the cost of one rotor is about $50 at a local parts store, it’s a cheap and easy replacement for a DIYer. The repair shops will charge a lot more of course for the same.

      • 0 avatar
        cronus

        The rotors rust like hell too. The one time I didn’t replace the rotors on my car when I did a brake job I had to pound them off the hub the next time with an 8# sledge because swinging as hard as I could with the 3# hammer wouldn’t dislodge them.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        At the risk of getting banned, bullshit

        bull-uuuullllssssssshit

        soooooo much bullshit

        the time scale on which rotors that have not seen a closed course expire is geologic. When I was young and stupid there is no one that could possibly have been younger and stupider at abusing his or her brakes. He or she could have been younger, or stupider, but not younger and stupdider. I was just that young and stupid, and abusive towards my brakes.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          Not going to ban you, but I’ll tell you this: I’ve seen BMW rotors on 7-Series wear to the ribs in 40,000 miles.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnnyFirebird

            1 – the rotors in question are ridged and warped. The ridging is from use and the warping is from improper winter storage. I’ll find somewhere to post pictures of them in the forums.

            2 – My job at the dealership is to take care of used vehicles, I can take pictures of the rotors I’ve had to swap out on vehicles with 20/30/40k miles with major corrosion, ridging, etc that had to be replaced. I’ve found that low mileage cars that don’t get driven for months on end, especially those parked outside, in this part of the world can have their rotors prematurely rust and decay. Or be damaged by handbrakes, etc. In Quebec it seems like 80,000 kilometers / 50,000 miles is pretty standard for a full brake job.

            3 – I’m no car expert so I could be totally wrong. I’m always willing to admit this!

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    VW’s are notoriously finicky when it comes to brakes. I trust my mechanic when he replaced mine with an OEM supplier version for much less than the dealer versions and it worked great.
    Find yourself a good mechanic/shop and take their advice.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I suppose the problem has gone away, but in the early 90s and before, U.S. manufacturers (especially Chrysler) used a lot of cheap-ass metal in their discs, which warped pretty readily. The brakes in my ’92 SHO were a little undersized for the vehicle (though not nearly as bad as those in my ’87 GT) and warped out pretty quickly just driving in the mountains in West Virginia. Unfortunately, there was not room to install larger diameter discs. Fortunately, there was a shop in my area specializing in these cars. They recommended and installed some higher-quality discs (German, IIRC) and different pads. After that, no more warping . . . and better stopping.

    So, I would disagree with those who say one disc is the same as another. There are a number of reputable aftermarket suppliers (although I know of none from China) that supply good discs at reasonable prices (in my case, I replaced worn BMW discs with Brembo discs, which were still cheaper than new BMW discs, even mail-order.

    I also replaced my stock BMW pads with Magid red pads, (semi metallic). These give a firmer pedal than the stock ones, and the combination stops really well in normal street driving. Also, they leave little less schmutz on the wheels.

    The OP may have worn his pads and discs quickly because of the “limited slip” system. I found that invoking the traction control on my car a lot in snowy weather, did quite a job on the rear brake pads. . . one reason I replaced them, along with the fronts, which have been on the car for 50K miles.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    At least on my car, even the racers (and by that, I mean guys who time themselves on racetracks, sometimes with double the stock horsepower) swear by $20 rotors and avoid anything with drilling or slotting. Popular opinion is that discs don’t matter, but pads do. Personally I went with Centric rotors – about $25 and have a nice black electroplating on the hats – and StopTech Street Performance pads. Less than $250 for all four wheels and work great.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      I wonder where you get $20 rotors. If you survey the local parts stores, a typical blank rotor they sell costs $45-60 a pop, with the price variation due to size of the rotor depending on car. I agree that going for more exotic rotors, which you have to order online, is a decorative piece and a waste of money for most.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        I got mine from Rockauto. It’s dependent on the car, but that’s the kind of money you spend on Miata rotors. Actually, I’ve seen ones for less than $20. For the average car, $45-60 sounds way high. Even the ones my mechanic put on my old Jetta were in the $30 range, and that’s in Canada, where stuff is typically more expensive.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Some cars will take lower-spec aftermarket brakes, and some won’t. Honda and Audi are two brands that will leave you shaking and squealing if you use anything but original parts.

    Don’t settle for the first dealer’s prices on parts. You can probably do much better if you ask around. I know that locally (to me), one Dodge/Ram/Chrysler/Fiat dealer is typically 50% higher than another.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Don’t forget to run your Super Blue ATE DOT4 Fluid.

    I run that for two years, then swap it out with their Amber Fluid, then back to the Super Blue.

    Zero fade. Complements your rotors + ceramics well.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      You realize that thanks to our nanny state, you can’t buy super blue any longer:

      http://hooniverse.com/2013/08/16/braking-news-ate-super-blue-deemed-illegal-for-us-distribution/

      Our government apparently doesn’t want people topping off their brake fluid reservoirs with washer fluid!

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Unless you’re running hard on the track, fancy brake fluid is overkill. I use regular parts-store brand DOT4 (which is already up-spec from the DOT3 the MOM suggests) and have no fluid-fade problems at the admittedly mild pace I run on the track. For the street, reasonably fresh DOT3 is plenty good enough.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    “Your car’s rear brakes are like any other Caliber, so I’d recommend any high quality ceramic pad on a cheap replacement rotor.”

    That’s not correct at all.

    I show the stock Caliber R/T rear rotor being: 10.3 in, while the SRT-4 uses 11.89 rears….which is off the Avenger R/T setup.

    • 0 avatar

      Gasp! The DriveSRT website lied to me!

      “For this reason, the base Caliber’s rear brake calipers were re-used for the SRT4. The front brakes, however, demanded special equipment.”

      http://www.drivesrt.com/heritage/caliber-srt4/

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    I bought powerstop rotors + ceramic brake pads (as a combo) from RockAuto for less than $80 CDN. It helps to live close to the border. My 2000 Civic had only 100,000 KM and save for the engine oil, none of the fluids were changed. I figured it was just as good time as any to bleed the brakes.

    The results are AWESOME! Though, I would love to get my hands on CR-V front knuckles and calipers. That way I can run a 11 inch disk versus a 10 inch.

    Nowadays I worry about people tailgating me. Little do they know that in addition to the brake job I managed to shed 75 lbs off the stock weight. Front passenger seat was 35lbs! and rear speaker were 15 lbs combined! Now I can stop on dime.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Unless you’ve also drastically upgraded your tires, going to more powerful brakes isn’t going to have a big effect on a single stop from <70 MPH. Stock systems are plenty powerful enough to lock up the wheels in that situation. Bigger brakes will help with fade resistance when doing repeated hard braking, but for most people fade isn't a concern anyway. Going to a bigger front disc and leaving the rear stock will likely INCREASE your stopping distance, as your proportioning will be off and the fronts will lock prematurely before the rears can get to maximum braking. ABS, if you have it, will mask this problem a bit, but it's still far from ideal.

      • 0 avatar
        calgarytek

        @juniperbug

        I just switched from winter tires to regular tires. The regular tires do lock up quicker (but they are also a little worn). The winter tires grip ‘tenaciously’, so I suppose I’m basing my stopping distances on the winters. I don’t have ABS so I should be worried about lockup a bit more than most. Tires are basically my ABS and an excellent set partially offsets the lack of ABS.

        I just managed to get my hands on CRV front knuckles today. It’s an ABS set. I would have to upgrade the rear to discs, though, I wonder if I can somehow pull the ones from the CRV. Do you think that using CRV proportioning valves will help with the big brake upgrade?

  • avatar
    RS

    What causes some brake pads to dust more than others?

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      There are two kinds of friction, adhesive and abrasive. Adhesive friction is used when the brake pad and rotors are hot enough for the brake pad material sort of melt and stick to the rotor, causing braking by these means. The abrasive friction is pure mechanical friction between surfaces. Normally brakes that have strong bite when cold have to rely on abrasive friction for that. In general high performance street brake pads or race track brake pads will dust a lot. Some examples: StopTech Street Performance, Hawk HPS, EBC GreenStuff.

      Another explanation I heard is that dusting is due to color of the materials. Supposedly metallic pads product darker, more visible dust while ceramic have browner/greyer dust that blends better with the rims, so it’s less visible because of that. In my opinion, the materials have little influence on dusting. It’s down to specific formulas. For example, I had StopTech Street Performance ceramic pads, and they did dust like hell. Black, soot like dust that will not be washed away by rain or car wash unless manually cleaned.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    My favorite go-to brake pad for street car is Wagner Thermoquiet ceramics. They have an amazingly strong, linear bite, either cold or hot. The resistance to overheating is very good. I have installed these on three different cars. If you want a brake pad that’s even more aggressive and works both on street and race track, get the StopTech Street Performance brakes. Unlike most track brake pads, they have very good bite when cold too, but they dust a lot.

    Finally, anyone who buys a brake pad should always look at the symbols printed on the side. The DOT requires the brake pad manufacturers to report cold and hot friction grades. They usually look something like EE, EF, FF, etc. The first letter stands for cold performance, the second letter for hot. In general, you don’t want to buy a brake pad with anything less than FF rating. EF means the bite is kind of weak when cold. FE may mean decent cold bite, but friction will be lost if brakes overheat. The Wagner brake pads I mentioned, the ratings were FG (it depends on the car/brake model).

    Finally, for the rotors, I personally think blank rotors, no slots and holes are perfect. On a street car, slotted or drilled rotors are a show off piece. They don’t do anything for performance. On the race track it could be different. On my day at the ALMS race at COTA I did look at the rotors of the LMP1/LMP2 cars, and even those did not have holes, only slots. Don’t worry if the part is made in China. Pretty much ALL rotors are now made in China except for a few boutique parts. Pretty much all rotors and brake pads sold in AutoZone, PepBoys, Advance Auto, NAPA, etc are made in China.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    I have a policy of high-end pads, OEM level rotors. At the end of the day eating rotors will almost always be cheaper than pads. I swear by Red stuff (and now that Yellow stuff is DOT legal that too). I prefer a hard initial bite in my brakes because I grew up driving inner-city streets so a bit touchy brake is something you get used to so you can stop from 30-40MPH in short order. But then again I used to go through brakes every 15-20K miles and I never minded because I had sheer stopping power on my side, small price to pay to avoid really countless accidents…

    http://www.shopebcbrakes.com/

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    For a non-enthusiast vehicle the formula is pretty simple if you’re willing to DIY.

    Wearever silver pads (full set) + turning the rotors (Often free or cheap, ask an indy who does your harder jobs) + spec brake fluid + coolant since this is usually a great time to replace it.

    Add in a coupon code or a price match, and your spending will likely be less than $50.

    Special note… unless you’re hard on brakes, most rotors can be turned once. However it can be hard to find shops that still do this. Most auto parts stores no longer provide this service so ask around. If you can’t find a place, bite the bullet and have your local parts store price match the Rockauto price.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      The cost of turning a rotor at chain stores is about $20 a pop, and the life expectancy will be lower than a brand new rotor, while a new rotor costs about $50, give or take. I personally like to buy a new rotor, and sell the used ones to a metal recycling facility.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I’m a little bit late to the party, but a someone who tracks my S2000 and thus goes through brakes like they’re going out of style, here’s my .02

    I don’t know if Rock Auto ships to Canada, but if they do I’d check them out for parts. Shipping aside, you should be able to get pads and rotors for all for corners with quality parts for under $250.

    Brand-wise, I’m partial to Centric. They have high and low-end stuff, ranging from Stoptech to normal Centric, to C-Tek.

    I’m partial to the Stoptech Street Performance pads since I need the heat capacity for the track, but I only use C-Tek rotors and have yet to have any significant problems. The main ‘difference’ is painted rotor hats, but since the cheap ones handle track abuse just fine, I don’t see the point in the upgrade cost. For your use I’d recommend the following:

    Pads: For all 4, Centric OE formula $59 or Posi-Quiet Ceramic $63
    Rotors: Centric C-Tek rotors $106 for all 4. Upgrading to Centric Premium is another $70.

    With the right tools and knowledge, It should be about an hour or less of work per axle. While you have it up on the lift it’s always a good Idea to flush the fluid as well, as others have said.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnnyFirebird

      Thanks! I’ll check them out for next time, or if I need to source some decent aftermarkets for any of the used cars in my inventory – they do ship to Canada. I don’t want to circumvent the parts department though, but I think we could figure out a good balance.


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