“Power is nothing without control” – Enzo Ferrari, perhaps the most important words said by the greatest car maker to have ever lived.
The fact is, we tend to easily forget how important brakes on a vehicle are with the ever growing complexities of a car and features that steal everyone’s attention. They are not only responsible to stop you from crashing into a tree, but are more incremental in improving the road safety which we hardly realize how important that is. Brakes should not only function but keep functioning consistently and without loss of performance over grueling miles and torture and still ensure the crisp unfazed bite every time you step on the pedal and make sure you stop within the right time. Most pedestrian oriented and radar guided safety systems on a car work very closely with braking systems and ensure that not only the driver of a car but also the people around are safe. Most traction control and electronic stability programs also work in a sync with brake systems as well.
What types of brakes are there and how do they work?
There are primarily 4 types of brakes rotors, i.e.: Plain Discs, Drilled, Grooved and Slotted. There are also other important components to brakes that are vital for one’s understanding on how they work. Basically there is a process between you pressing the brake pedal and the car stopping. When you brake there is a master cylinder to the brake pedal that pumps air and brake fluid from the reservoir to the slave cylinders to each wheels which then wraps pressure onto the discs through a calliper.
Why do my brakes feel soft after driving for a long time?
Coming back to the types of rotors each have their advantages and disadvantages. These brakes are designed to deal with heat at different temperatures pertaining to how exposed they are to travel distances and temperatures they operate at. Usually OEM brakes are not made to withstand higher heat dissipation. Heat dissipation is when a hot object is left in contact with another object at a lower temperature during which kinetic energy is converted to heat. That is why it leave a mushy pedal feel after being used excessively. At times heat dissipation also causes brake pads to catch fire. Heat dissipation leaves a layer of brake dust and gas on the rotor and decreases the effective braking as the brake pads start wearing off. This usually happens on Plain Vented Discs because the heat has no place to escape.
Which type of brakes should I run to avoid these circumstances?
On other types of brakes like Drilled, Slotted or Grooved the heat has a better chance to escape as the gas formed on the surface of the rotors escapes through them. As far as improved road car performance goes Drilled Rotors work best in maximizing braking performance and maintaining uniform brake pressure and effect even after excessive use and also helps cool down faster. But if one does enthusiastically drive on tracks, they may want to choose Slotted Rotors because Drilled Rotors have a tendency to go through heavy temperature changes and form cracking in extreme usage.
Apart from types of discs, there are also the materials that play a major role. Discs are made of Steel or Carbon Fibre Silicon Carbide commonly known as Carbon Brakes which has a higher amount of graphite used in production. These materials play a major part in stabilizing the co efficient of friction to maintain suitable temperatures for brakes to operate in.
Are there any other components that need to be upgraded?
Now, another aspect that affects braking effectiveness is brake fluid boiling which is caused due to poor quality brake pads, so using performance pads will always ensure your brake fluid isn’t boiling through the brake lines. If one does regularly visit tracks they should opt for steel braided brake lines alongside performance pads to ensure that brake heat doesn’t damage the rubber lines and also gives consistency.
The last but not the least important part of brake life is brake fluids. One must always ensure they use the best quality of brake fluids to keep the brakes performing at the best capacity consistently.
How often should my brakes be serviced?
We advise brakes to be serviced every 12000 – 18000 kilometers. SUVs need to be serviced at 12000-15000 kms and sedans between 15000-18000 kms. We recommend a BDX clean. Regular brake service includes calliper cleaning, silicon greasing, brake pads replacement, sensor replace and a complete brake system bleed. A brake paste application to ensure there isn’t brake dust remainder on the rotors and no loss of braking performance is experienced. DOT4 brake fluid is the most common brake fluid recommended and used across in industry standard which we maintain remains best for road use application.
Which are the best brands to go for?
Our expert advice for products we like to use includes the following:
Brembo : OEM Brake rotors and Brake Pads, Performance/Sport Specification for Track use in Sports cars and Supercars
EBC : Performance Brakes and Brake Pads for Sports and Performance Cars for Road and Track Use
Muller : Performance Brakes and Brake Pads for Road Usage, Brake Fluids
K Sport : Brake systems for Full Tuner Cars.
All these brands and products are available at European Performance Automotive Group