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Thread: Brake Upgrade

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    Brake Upgrade

    Anyone have recommendations for some better performing pads and rotors?

    How often should the caliper pins be serviced?

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    Registered Member Anchorman's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by GJ-Molestor View Post
    Anyone have recommendations for some better performing pads and rotors?

    How often should the caliper pins be serviced?
    Here’s a cautionary tale. Before we start, I spent 17 years testing and developing friction material for Ferodo. For a while I had an office in Smithville TN and would fly up to the vehicle builders in Detroit on my rounds - it where my name anchorman comes from!!!

    Firstly I would ask “for what”. If you are thinking of doing competitions, fair enough but if its just for your Mazda 6, beware. It was already fitted with ideal friction material when it left Japan and they will have gone through masses of development work with it. You’re going to get people telling you to buy greenstuff and red stuff and all sorts of stuff but my mate has just rebuilt his BMW 325 and fitted competition calipers and pads and now he can’t stop it. You have to look at the formulation and intended use and if you use competition pads they won’t start to work well unless you really push the temperature up toward 400C (the discs will glow cherry red at about 550C). I personally would either get more Mazda pads (that will be made by one of the propriety friction manufacturers) or source something like that yourself. Only go the competition route if that is what you intend doing.

    I would only grease the guide pins either when you change the pads or you have the wheels off and you feel there is a need to do it. I use Ceratec which can also be used to grease the pad contacts and a dab on the back. Do not use copper based grease anywhere on a brake. it is horrendous stuff and will congeal in no time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anchorman View Post
    Here’s a cautionary tale. Before we start, I spent 17 years testing and developing friction material for Ferodo. For a while I had an office in Smithville TN and would fly up to the vehicle builders in Detroit on my rounds - it where my name anchorman comes from!!!

    Firstly I would ask “for what”. If you are thinking of doing competitions, fair enough but if its just for your Mazda 6, beware. It was already fitted with ideal friction material when it left Japan and they will have gone through masses of development work with it. You’re going to get people telling you to buy greenstuff and red stuff and all sorts of stuff but my mate has just rebuilt his BMW 325 and fitted competition calipers and pads and now he can’t stop it. You have to look at the formulation and intended use and if you use competition pads they won’t start to work well unless you really push the temperature up toward 400C (the discs will glow cherry red at about 550C). I personally would either get more Mazda pads (that will be made by one of the propriety friction manufacturers) or source something like that yourself. Only go the competition route if that is what you intend doing.

    I would only grease the guide pins either when you change the pads or you have the wheels off and you feel there is a need to do it. I use Ceratec which can also be used to grease the pad contacts and a dab on the back. Do not use copper based grease anywhere on a brake. it is horrendous stuff and will congeal in no time.
    Thank you for the informative response. The Mazda is daily driven by my father who is a very conservative driver so the OEM brakes are totally fine for our needs, but Iím just looking for a slightly better performing pad for a firmer brake pedal. Iím also just curious to know the names of some rotors that are tougher.

    My bmw for OEM equipment has some damn good brakes, the pads need to be slightly warmed up on a cold day for best performance. The black dust all over my wheels is absolutely atrocious, but pedal feel and stopping power is simply excellent. These brakes are ready to go straight to the track as long as you got sufficient ventilation for the front rotors.

    Me and my dad are never going to switch cars because he loves his Mazda and itís not a manual (why would I switch from an auto to another auto) but if I did get the 6, Iíd love to get an ECU tune, some cosmetic mods, a LSD, beefier tires ETC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anchorman View Post
    Here’s a cautionary tale. Before we start, I spent 17 years testing and developing friction material for Ferodo. For a while I had an office in Smithville TN and would fly up to the vehicle builders in Detroit on my rounds - it where my name anchorman comes from!!!

    Firstly I would ask “for what”. If you are thinking of doing competitions, fair enough but if its just for your Mazda 6, beware. It was already fitted with ideal friction material when it left Japan and they will have gone through masses of development work with it. You’re going to get people telling you to buy greenstuff and red stuff and all sorts of stuff but my mate has just rebuilt his BMW 325 and fitted competition calipers and pads and now he can’t stop it. You have to look at the formulation and intended use and if you use competition pads they won’t start to work well unless you really push the temperature up toward 400C (the discs will glow cherry red at about 550C). I personally would either get more Mazda pads (that will be made by one of the propriety friction manufacturers) or source something like that yourself. Only go the competition route if that is what you intend doing.
    Thank you for injecting some sanity into the ongoing topic of "brake upgrades". Manufacturers do indeed put a ton of development money into these components and unless you have a really good reason to make a change, it's best to stay with OE in this area. I was on Miata forums for years and was always impressed with how many owners came to this conclusion about their rides. And these guys are performance zealots!

    I would only grease the guide pins either when you change the pads or you have the wheels off and you feel there is a need to do it. I use Ceratec which can also be used to grease the pad contacts and a dab on the back. Do not use copper based grease anywhere on a brake. it is horrendous stuff and will congeal in no time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anchorman View Post
    Here’s a cautionary tale. Before we start, I spent 17 years testing and developing friction material for Ferodo. For a while I had an office in Smithville TN and would fly up to the vehicle builders in Detroit on my rounds - it where my name anchorman comes from!!!

    Firstly I would ask “for what”. If you are thinking of doing competitions, fair enough but if its just for your Mazda 6, beware. It was already fitted with ideal friction material when it left Japan and they will have gone through masses of development work with it. You’re going to get people telling you to buy greenstuff and red stuff and all sorts of stuff but my mate has just rebuilt his BMW 325 and fitted competition calipers and pads and now he can’t stop it. You have to look at the formulation and intended use and if you use competition pads they won’t start to work well unless you really push the temperature up toward 400C (the discs will glow cherry red at about 550C). I personally would either get more Mazda pads (that will be made by one of the propriety friction manufacturers) or source something like that yourself. Only go the competition route if that is what you intend doing.
    I would only grease the guide pins either when you change the pads or you have the wheels off and you feel there is a need to do it. I use Ceratec which can also be used to grease the pad contacts and a dab on the back. Do not use copper based grease anywhere on a brake. it is horrendous stuff and will congeal in no time.
    Thank you for injecting some sanity into the ongoing topic of "brake upgrades". Manufacturers do indeed put a ton of development money into these components and unless you have a really good reason to make a change, it's best to stay with OE in this area. I was on Miata forums for years and was always impressed with how many owners came to this conclusion about their rides. And these guys are performance zealots!
    Last edited by paris1; 09-16-2017 at 01:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GJ-Molestor View Post
    Thank you for the informative response. The Mazda is daily driven by my father who is a very conservative driver so the OEM brakes are totally fine for our needs, but I’m just looking for a slightly better performing pad for a firmer brake pedal. I’m also just curious to know the names of some rotors that are tougher.

    My bmw for OEM equipment has some damn good brakes, the pads need to be slightly warmed up on a cold day for best performance. The black dust all over my wheels is absolutely atrocious, but pedal feel and stopping power is simply excellent. These brakes are ready to go straight to the track as long as you got sufficient ventilation for the front rotors.

    Me and my dad are never going to switch cars because he loves his Mazda and it’s not a manual (why would I switch from an auto to another auto) but if I did get the 6, I’d love to get an ECU tune, some cosmetic mods, a LSD, beefier tires ETC.
    The pads won't change the pedal feel, the have a similar density to cast iron. What makes the brakes feel spongy is the amount of pressure the servo applies - in excess of 100 bar (getting up 1500 psi). They should do, they are about 70% steel fibre and the rest are nearly all heavy metal and mineral. If you want to feel how hard your pedal is in reality, pump the pedal until all the vacuum has gone (engine off) and it will go rock hard. German friction material contains a lot of abrasive (usually silica) and that requires toning down to control the friction through a temperature range so they add a lot of carbon black which is where your black dust comes from on the beemer. Normal discs are just plain old grey cast iron so if you want your car to feel like a BMW, use German pads and don't moan when the wheels get covered in dust. I don't know what you can buy over there but if you can get your hands on Textar, Pagid or Jurid, they are the main suppliers to BMW. I'd be wary of American or Japanese brands as they go for long life and no black dust but they lend themselves to brake judder or they sieze in the caliper before you can wear them out. Healthy brakes will always have bright shiny discs but no black patches or blotches. It's hard to work out how shiny discs can give good performance but it's the same principle as a 100 ton locomotive pulling a 2000 ton train up a steep grade. The secret is in the contact area of the wheels. A hugh amount of pressure on a tiny footprint and perfectly smooth surfaces. You don't need rough surfaces for good friction - it's the nature of the material and how hard you push them together. Over here, Mazda use European friction material but you may well get something different. See what you can get and if you really struggle to find some German stuff and you aren't in a big hurry, I'll bring some over to Florida in June and post them to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by paris1 View Post
    Thank you for injecting some sanity into the ongoing topic of "brake upgrades". Manufacturers do indeed put a ton of development money into these components and unless you have a really good reason to make a change, it's best to stay with OE in this area. I was on Miata forums for years and was always impressed with how many owners came to this conclusion about their rides. And these guys are performance zealots!
    Yes, I know what you mean. The mind is a powerful weapon but I've never been able to really judge brake performance without some serious instrumentation in a development vehicle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anchorman View Post
    The pads won't change the pedal feel, the have a similar density to cast iron. What makes the brakes feel spongy is the amount of pressure the servo applies - in excess of 100 bar (getting up 1500 psi). They should do, they are about 70% steel fibre and the rest are nearly all heavy metal and mineral. If you want to feel how hard your pedal is in reality, pump the pedal until all the vacuum has gone (engine off) and it will go rock hard. German friction material contains a lot of abrasive (usually silica) and that requires toning down to control the friction through a temperature range so they add a lot of carbon black which is where your black dust comes from on the beemer. Normal discs are just plain old grey cast iron so if you want your car to feel like a BMW, use German pads and don't moan when the wheels get covered in dust. I don't know what you can buy over there but if you can get your hands on Textar, Pagid or Jurid, they are the main suppliers to BMW. I'd be wary of American or Japanese brands as they go for long life and no black dust but they lend themselves to brake judder or they sieze in the caliper before you can wear them out. Healthy brakes will always have bright shiny discs but no black patches or blotches. It's hard to work out how shiny discs can give good performance but it's the same principle as a 100 ton locomotive pulling a 2000 ton train up a steep grade. The secret is in the contact area of the wheels. A hugh amount of pressure on a tiny footprint and perfectly smooth surfaces. You don't need rough surfaces for good friction - it's the nature of the material and how hard you push them together. Over here, Mazda use European friction material but you may well get something different. See what you can get and if you really struggle to find some German stuff and you aren't in a big hurry, I'll bring some over to Florida in June and post them to you.
    I see, thank you. I have Textar in my BMW right now and theyíre very good pads... I clean the front rims every 300KM but Iím happy with the performance. My bmw is at roughly 75k, so I did a brake fluid change (likely for the first time of the cars life) and it made the pedal MUCH more firm and sensitive. It became easier to modulate and required less movement of the pedal but rather foot pressure required to modulate the brakes. I will do this on the Mazda when itís time for a brake change.

    What sort of rotors can I go with? Are there any options?

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    Well like Paris 1 says, there are always pundits for "upgraded discs" so they will part with their money for groves or drilled discs but in reality, your beemer and your 6 have good old grey cast iron discs and they'll handle most things you can throw at them off a race track. Over here, a lot of discs are coming painted or treated to stop them rusting and to me there is nothing worse than seeing red rusty discs up inside your nice alloy wheels so I would look for plain cast iron discs that are painted. Pagid sell discs that have been chemically dipped and will not rust even inside the ventilating slots. Get a tube I'd ceratec or similar grease which you can use on the guide pins, pad backplates and caliper contacts. Smear it on the hub and the wheels will drop off looking like new instead of corroding to the hub. Your BMW will have DOT4 brake fluid but the Japanese have always stuck with DOT3 which has a lower boiling point but is superior for lubricating rubber parts and stops the inside of that very expensive ABS pump from corroding. Bleeding the brakes can have an effect on the pedal feel but again, pump the pedal with the engine off to feel if there is any air in it. The pedal should be solid and I mean solid apart from the design freeplay right at the top. If you keep the brake pressed hard then start the engine, you will feel the pedal go right to the floor under pressure which is normal. It's surprising how many bleed the brakes and then try doing that and think they have done something wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anchorman View Post
    Well like Paris 1 says, there are always pundits for "upgraded discs" so they will part with their money for groves or drilled discs but in reality, your beemer and your 6 have good old grey cast iron discs and they'll handle most things you can throw at them off a race track. Over here, a lot of discs are coming painted or treated to stop them rusting and to me there is nothing worse than seeing red rusty discs up inside your nice alloy wheels so I would look for plain cast iron discs that are painted. Pagid sell discs that have been chemically dipped and will not rust even inside the ventilating slots. Get a tube I'd ceratec or similar grease which you can use on the guide pins, pad backplates and caliper contacts. Smear it on the hub and the wheels will drop off looking like new instead of corroding to the hub. Your BMW will have DOT4 brake fluid but the Japanese have always stuck with DOT3 which has a lower boiling point but is superior for lubricating rubber parts and stops the inside of that very expensive ABS pump from corroding. Bleeding the brakes can have an effect on the pedal feel but again, pump the pedal with the engine off to feel if there is any air in it. The pedal should be solid and I mean solid apart from the design freeplay right at the top. If you keep the brake pressed hard then start the engine, you will feel the pedal go right to the floor under pressure which is normal. It's surprising how many bleed the brakes and then try doing that and think they have done something wrong.
    I see. I would never get anything but just regular cast discs... slotted and drilled rotors are a complete waste. Iím just looking for mild upgrades over stock.

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    The OEM pads are fine. I like how low dust they are, and mine have made it to nearly 65k miles with no signs of nearing the end yet. I plan on replacing with OEM once they do, or the rotors warp too much for me to take it any longer.

    As to brakes though, the most ghetto brake job I did turned out better than anything at a dealership. I had a 2002 Infiniti G20. I replaced the pads at 120k miles or something with ceramic pads. Left the rotors alone. Bled the system very well (completely drained it and refilled it basically) via the 2-man pedal-pumping method. Then, I broke the brakes in on the way home through the Ouchita "mountains" . The rotors were grooved rather heavily, and the pads were flat of course. By the time I was through the mountains, my stopping distances had gone from "does it have brakes?" to "RACECAR!". Pedal was firm as a rock.

    Really though, I'd stick with OEM on the CX5. it's super low dust and they last a long time, and I have never even come close to overheating them even beating on it in the "mountains". The rotors do warp easily though. Mine are, and it's frustrating to have so much brake material left and wasted rotors, but I plan to have brakes done as part of the 75k mile service, and as long as they stop, until then...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Unobtanium View Post
    The OEM pads are fine. I like how low dust they are, and mine have made it to nearly 65k miles with no signs of nearing the end yet. I plan on replacing with OEM once they do, or the rotors warp too much for me to take it any longer.

    As to brakes though, the most ghetto brake job I did turned out better than anything at a dealership. I had a 2002 Infiniti G20. I replaced the pads at 120k miles or something with ceramic pads. Left the rotors alone. Bled the system very well (completely drained it and refilled it basically) via the 2-man pedal-pumping method. Then, I broke the brakes in on the way home through the Ouchita "mountains" . The rotors were grooved rather heavily, and the pads were flat of course. By the time I was through the mountains, my stopping distances had gone from "does it have brakes?" to "RACECAR!". Pedal was firm as a rock.

    Really though, I'd stick with OEM on the CX5. it's super low dust and they last a long time, and I have never even come close to overheating them even beating on it in the "mountains". The rotors do warp easily though. Mine are, and it's frustrating to have so much brake material left and wasted rotors, but I plan to have brakes done as part of the 75k mile service, and as long as they stop, until then...
    Agreed, the OEM rotors warp too easily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GJ-Molestor View Post
    Agreed, the OEM rotors warp too easily.
    I've found most all of them do, really. I have had warped:

    370Z OEM Sport rotors
    Z1 slotted 370Z rotors
    Jeep Grand Cherokee rotors
    01 Trans Am rotors
    And now, CX5 rotors

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    I was very disappointed in the brakes of my new '17 CX5 compared to an also-new '15 CX5. The '17 had problems stopping for the first 1000 miles until they seated in. I took delivery of it with 205 miles on the odometer. My '15 was just off the truck and had 12 miles on it. I could modulate stopping power precisely from day 1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Unobtanium View Post
    I've found most all of them do, really. I have had warped:

    370Z OEM Sport rotors
    Z1 slotted 370Z rotors
    Jeep Grand Cherokee rotors
    01 Trans Am rotors
    And now, CX5 rotors
    Thats “true” Japanese friction material (sometimes made under license in the USA) that does that. They hate black dust with a passion and tend to use very expensive fillers and friction modifiers to prevent it. The material lasts longer than anything we at Ferodo or the other European manufacturer could come near to but it has a problem. The wear rate is low enough that it doesn’t self clean and that is the black on the disc I was on about above. Some of the material and wear debris get transferred onto the disc and as it is often patchy, there are times when the pads work on the disc and times when it travels over transferred friction material. The result is known as DTV (disc thickness variation) so not warped as such but thick and thin as the pads travel. This was first recognised by Ferodo back in the early 90s when Ford were having problems with the Sierra. The answer is to bulk up the abrasive which effectively sands the discs clean and keeps them dead true. You will never get a BMW, Audi or Merc with warped discs unless they have been stood for months. They use super aggressive pads which keep the discs very bright but will wear them out. The discs are seen as sacrificial but the performance stays good.

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