Maintenance and Care of your Big Brake Kit
Proper routine maintenance of the brake system is essential to keeping your brake system functioning safely and properly. Periodic inspection of pads, rotors, calipers and hoses is necessary. Take a few moments to look over these parts every time you change your oil- this will force you to remember when to do it.
Pads should wear evenly top to bottom, and not be cocked in the caliper for best performance. If there is less than 30% of pad material left on the steel backing plate it is time to change the pads. It will be easier and more cost effective to replace pads before they allow damage to the rotor or caliper. After installing new pads always refit the bridge bolts which keep the pads in place. It may be necessary to file the edge of new pads for a good smooth fit into the caliper. When fitting new pads it is best to replace them one at a time. Remove the old pad and clean off the exposed pistons using a nylon tooth brush and some Brake Cleaner before retracting them. This keeps the dirt out and should allow the piston to move back easily. Open the bleeder fitting on top of the side being worked on and gently work the pistons back into the caliper body one at a time- don't squirt yourself in the face... Resist the temptation to force the piston in. It must go in squarely and not at an angle. A suitable prying tool may be used if used CAREFULLY. When the pistons are square and the bleeder open, they will go back in with light finger pressure. When done with one side fit the new pad and replace the others in the same manner. Close all the bleeders and re-bleed the system. You must now bed in the new pads in the same manner as original installation.
Calipers should be kept clean and free of debris and foreign materials. Replacement seals, pistons and bleeders are available if necessary. Periodic bleeding should be performed to keep the fluid fresh and moisture out. Check all hardware to ensure the bolts are tight.
Rotors should be smooth for best performance and life. If your rotors have become scored for any reason they can be re-cut or turned by a reputable brake shop. Do not remove the rotor from the hat for this process. Minimum rotor thickness may vary however a 10% reduction is a good rule of thumb. If replacing the rotor, remove the hat to rotor bolts and plan to replace them along with the rotor. They should be red loctited and torqued: to 21 foot pounds. Also be certain all surfaces are clean and flat prior to assembly. When installing the rotors onto your car be sure to place the rotor on the proper side of the car as they may be directional.
Hoses should be checked for leaks, chafing and binding. Being stainless steel does not mean they will last forever. While stronger than the factory rubber lines, they will offer great flexibility and performance for a number of years, but replace them at the first sign of chafed braid or weeping of fluid.
Tuning of the brake system consists of alternate pads, adding gas grooves to the rotors, alternate brake fluid, adding heat shields or fitting duct work for improved cooling. Therm-Lock pistons may also be added at a later date to many kits where high temperatures are a problem. When shopping pads there are many options available from various suppliers such as; Wilwood; Porterfield; Performance Friction; Ferodo; Hawk and others. When selecting an alternate pad you should consult with the supplier to be sure you are getting a pad suitable for your needs. High temp race pads are not going to be very effective on the street, and conversely a street/performance pad will have limited use on the race track. If you are considering such alternates please feel free to contact TCE for some recommendations.
High temp brake fluids are very good for racing, but may not be suitable for street application. Generally these fluids are more susceptible to moisture and have a short working life. If you need this type of fluid for track use be prepared to flush it thoroughly and bleed daily. When done, the stock fluid should be added back to the system for street use. The use of heat shields in the calipers and the addition of brake cooling ducts is a personal preference and you should consult a local fabricator to meet your needs.
The life cycle of these parts and how often you service you brakes will depend largely on how much use (or abuse) you place on them. Some people may get 40,000 miles from a set of pads while other may need replacements at less than 10,000. The more hard use applied the more you will use up the pad life. Pads and rotors should be considered expendable items as brakes require large amounts of friction and heat to do their job well.
Replacement parts for your brake system are available from our SERVICE PARTS page. PADS, rotors, and many caliper parts are stocked for your convenience.