Truck Place


Better Braking

By: Dan Sanchez

Simple ways to improve your truckís braking power

There are many ways to go fast, but stopping is another matter. Braking performance is just as important as accelerating and once youíve slammed on your brakes to avoid an accident, you may realize how important brakes can be.

Most factory brakes are adequate, but once you begin adding larger diameter wheels, engine performance items and even a boat or trailer behind your truck, the brakes can quickly fade. The major cause of brake failure is heat. Too much heat generated by your brakes quickly limits the stopping potential of your vehicle. Stopping distances increase and your chances of getting into an accident are greater.

There are many ways to limit the heat generated by your brakes. First, is to use a good, quality pad that increases the friction of the brake and limits the amount of heat generated. This sounds like a contradiction of terms, as higher friction usually equals higher temperatures. This is a trade-off that brake pad manufacturers consider when designing a brake pad.

High quality brake pads, have a higher coefficient of friction and can dissipate heat quicker than standard pads. The combination of ingredients in a brake pad compound is the key and none of the brake pad manufacturers want others to know their recipe.

Generally speaking carbon metallic pads leave a film of carbon that increases the padís friction and works much better than standard pads made from organic materials. In fact, most OEM brakes now come with carbon metallic pads. Kevlar pads are also being used more often as they too have higher friction capabilities, but can dissipate heat much more quickly than carbon metallic pads.

Larger diameter rotors can also dissipate heat more quickly, but are most often used to create a larger friction area for the brake pads. A larger area will stop a vehicle quicker and when the rotors are vented, they can dissipate heat and brake pad gasses more quickly. Vented rotors are designed in different ways, they can be axial vented which swipes the pad clean as it passes over a vent, or they can be cross-drilled. Cross drilling allows the gases produced by hot pads to leave the surface of the rotor, causing less brake fade and increased stopping power. The drawback however, is that any time you remove material from the rotor, you are taking away a portion of its surface area. This is one reason why cross-drilled or axial vented rotors are larger in diameter than the factory rotors.

High performance calipers are also available as they too can provide increased stopping power by producing higher brake pressure. Usually available as a performance brake kit, aftermarket calipers and Rotor kits can provide as much as 20% improved stopping power over stock. Some of these systems can be expensive, but when you consider the needs of your truck, either in towing or high-performance use, the cost is worth the performance.

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