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A Guide on Upgrading Brake Systems


A Guide on Upgrading Brake Systems

If you’re planning to upgrade the brake system of your car to performance brakes, you should know that there are many performance brake manufacturers out there. Choosing one can be a bit difficult if you do not know the basics; of course the primary function of any braking system is to slow down the wheel rotation to stop the vehicle, and the kinetic energy of the vehicle is converted to thermal energy and in turn, the system produces a lot of heat. Therefore, while looking for performance brakes, you should take into account the efficiency of the braking system to convert energy and how it deals with the heat produced.

Before upgrading the braking system of your car, you need to keep in mind a few important factors like your budget, your driving style, and the intended use. Most of the stock braking systems are designed to offer competent stopping in both cold and hot conditions. In most of the cases, the components of the braking system are usually not intended for extreme and severe use or for repetitive stops. This does not mean that you need to buy a six-piston caliper having two-piece rotors. Chances are good that a simple pad, fluid, lines, and rotor upgrade can help you in boosting the braking performance of your vehicle.

Brake Rotors

Brake rotor or the brake disc is the surface with which the brake pads come into contact. When you apply the brakes, there will be very high abrasive friction during low temperatures, i.e. when the brake rotor is cool. This is the friction caused by the brake pads while they rub on the surface of the brake rotor.

With the increase in temperature of the brake rotor, adherent friction will come to play, and in this process, a thin layer of brake pad material is transferred to the surface of the brake rotor and this layer will rub on the brake pad to increase braking. Both the type of friction will allow converting the kinetic energy of the vehicle to thermal energy. The abrasive friction will lead to physical wear of the brake rotors. The latter one will be tougher on the brake rotor and can lead to heat cracking of the same.

Usually, the brake rotors will have many different grades of cast iron. As cast iron is a metal that is well known for its stable heat properties, it is a great candidate for brake rotors. The disadvantage of the material is that it is very heavy. This has made many manufacturers to make rotors out of lighter materials like aluminum, ceramic and carbon, or steel and carbon. Even different rotor configurations are available among these materials.

Vented Rotors for Cooling

As the rotor is the part in the braking system that absorbs most of the thermal energy, it is important to control the heat in an effective way. For this reason, vented rotors are commonly used, as they have internal cooling passages that can work like an impeller. When the rotor spins with the wheel, air is pulled into it through the eye or center and is then evacuated via the outside areas of the rotor. A disadvantage of this type of cooling is the radiant heat, meaning that the rotor will heat up everything around it.

Vented rotors are the best choice for performance brake systems, as the solid rotor should rely on ambient air to check the temperature. In case of vented rotors, it moves air continually through it to control heat in a better way. The increased flow of air through the vented rotor can increase the cooling ability of the braking system.

Some of the streetcars make extensive use of brake cooling ducts that can help in drawing cool air to the surface of the rotor. This can help cut down the temperature by a few hundred degrees, thereby improving the performance of the braking system.

“When we set up a brake system for a customer on a race team, brake cooling ducts are fundamental,” says Emanuele Bruletti, who is the North American engineer for Brembo. “We ask them to focus on the cooling, because cooler rotors allow everything to perform better.”

Now that you have understood why out of the ordinary materials are used to make disc brake systems, you need to take into account the main limitations on the size of the rotor, your intended use, and your funds, of course. You have different sizes, materials, and configurations to select from here. However, when you go for the bigger rotors, you will have to shell out more money. In addition, you will also have to change the wheels to install bigger rotors, and maybe change the tires of your car too. Therefore, it is important to keep these important factors in mind while looking to upgrade the brake system of your vehicle.

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