Before i start, no i never went to college to get a master degree in english, so please excuse the misspelled words and incorrect usage. and no i don't know EVERYTHING there is to know about brakes, if i left something out or got something wrong, don't get mad, just tell me whats correct or should be in here and i will kindly change it.
big shout outs too: Reza for the pic of his car, http://www.JHPusa.com
for more pix, and yahoo for letting me steal the rest of the pix =P
Now that i have that outa the way, i myself have been looking into improving my brake systems because (1) my brakes feel a little sluggish (2) i plan on going turbo and i wanna be able to stop my car lol. im really gonna talk about some upgrades (not really the technique, which can be more important than upgrades), all the way from a few bux to a few grand.
here's some of the really cheap upgrades or restoration.
this can help if you have a spongy brake pedal or if you have just changed the pads. i like a firm pedal w/o too much play, but if you have a firm pedal with NO play, check your brake booster/hose, something could be broken. a soft pedal reduces your reaction time, not by much, but every millisecond counts to me. a spongy pedal can be a few things:
--> air in the system- air doesn't hold its form like brake fluid does. it'd be easier to compress a square inch of air then it would be to compress a square inch of brake fluid.
--> water/contaminates in the system- water kind of breaks the brake fluid apart and makes it easier to compress (hence spongy/not firm pedal). if you live somewhere where it rains/snows a lot it would be a good idea to check your fluid every time you check your oil.
--> bad master calender seal- not much you can do here but replace or rebuild it. it leaks brake fluid (usually in or on the brake booster, not good). when your m/c goes bad you'll usually see on the brake booster directly under it, peeling paint or rust.
you usually wanna do a flush any way if your fluid is black for safety reasons because your brake fluid will absorb all the water it comes in contact to from leaving the top off to condensation. if you go to race events it is a good idea to flush and fill your system before and after each event. there are plenty of DIY's on the internet on how to bleed brakes, im not gonna get into that here. there's a couple different fluids you can use from regular to synthetic. how much you wanna spend is up to you. check YOUR owners manual to see which type of fluid is for your car
--> DOT 3
--> DOT 4
it is ok to use a high temp DOT4 instead of DOT3 but DOT4 can absorb moisture quicker than DOT3 so pick and chose which will benefit you in the long run.
--DOT 5.1 - this is a glycol-based fluid designed for ABS which aren't too happy with DOT3 or 4.
NEVER USE DOT5 INSTEAD OF DOT5.1 OR DOT3/4. it is silicone based and will eat at your brake system.
your brake fluid can get hot and will break down when it boils (turns from liquid to gas). the dry boiling point is the temperature when pure 100% brake fluid begins to boil. the standard dry boiling point is anywhere from 400F to about 510F, these listed are for higher performance and from about 590F to 620F
Castrol SRF - 590F
MotoulRBF600 - 593F
Brembo Racing Lcf 600 - 601F
Neo synthetic super DOT 610 - 610F
Cobalt Super XRF - 620F
wet boiling point is when it is fully saturated with all the water it can hold. the wet boiling point is probably the most important because it can never be 100% dry for daily driving. the standard are about 285F to 360F. these are in the higher range 390F to 518F
ATE TYP200 - 392F
Brembo Racing LCF 600 - 399F
Motul RBF600 - 420F
NEO Synthetic super dot610 - 421F
Castrol SRF - 518F
here's a pic of a few different kinds of fluid
Using sweat bands on resivors:
like many things done to cars, these are usually for a bling factor. all they do is soak up excess brake fluid that may drip out the master cylinder.....thats it.
spoon resivior covers
front brake assembly:
now before you start replacing pieces for high performance parts on your front brake setup, wouldn't you like to raise the potential first? by this i mean getting better oem parts, and starting from a higher platform. for example, a good upgrade for a DX civic would be an EX/Si/integra front knuckle assy. if for a reason you cant or dont want to, im not gonna force you too. but the best bang for the buck upgrades involve oem parts (unless you drive like an ITR =P )
one of the easiest component to upgrade on your brake system. they usually range from $20 autozone pads to $120 high performance pads. but there are some variables, some are catch 22 as in good performance while sacrificing daily drivability. here are some stuff you might wanna look up before upgrading your pads:
--> pad wear
--> rotor wear
--> effective heat range
those are pretty much self explanatory. there's a lot of pads on the market that can out perform oem ones while still being daily drivable. some names include: AEM, Hawk, Endless, Project Mu and etc.
project mu pads
most of the time upgrading these are more for a bling factor as opposed to function. cross drilled and slotted rotors on stock systems should be avoided, no they don't dissipate heat faster, and the groves and notches act more like a cheese grader to your pads wearing them faster.
a good street upgrade for rotors would be resurfacing them or getting new oem ones, don't waste your money on blingy rotors unless you get a compete setup with bigger rotors and calipers(explained below)
read more here: https://honda-tech.com/zerothread?id=1437513
drilled and slotted rotors vvv
cooling your rotors is also a good way to improve the performance under hard braking situations. you can cut away the dust shield behind the rotor to help dissipate heat. but remember, the will expose suspension and steering components to heat and brake dust. you can also create a brake duct that will pull cooler air from the front of the car to the brake components. this can be fairly cheap for some dryer hose (about a few bux or free if you dont wanna dry your clothes) to a few hundred for custom ducts and hoses. if you do this PLEASE make sure it is not close enough to melt (brakes get hot) and tied down so that id doesn't bind in anything.
as you can see the ducts in this pic
here's a behind the scenes look and cooling ducts
now it would make no sense to go out and spend $1500 on some spoon calipers if you cant control or use them to their full potential. thats where stainless steel brake lines come into play. most of the line from the m/c to the caliper/drum is a professional bent hard line, then there is about a foot and a half of rubber hose. this rubber hose will expand, crack, balloon and maybe even burst (probably not tho) under hard brake usage. the stainless steel lines wont expand and keep you with a firm brake pedal. these range anywhere from $100-$400 depending on name and material. some good manes are earl's, mugen, spoon, and a few more i cant remember at this time.
Earl's stainless steel lines
these are usually upgraded to fit bigger rotors or to have more clamping force. there are a few things that determine a calipers performance:
--> the number of pistons and design of the caliper so it can exert an even steady pressure.
--> the size of the caliper and how much of the rotor it can use to clamp on to (the more, the better)
--> the manufacturing of the calipers:
> Billet calipers - considerably the best because of the solidness and strength, these are also the most expensive
> Forged calipers - shaped under high pressure from a mostly solid material
> cast calipers - made from a mold, these are usually the weakest
i would recommend staying with something OEM here cause the racing calipers have a tendency to absorb moisture into the brake fluid and you might have to flush the fluid every time you drive in the rain. not too much of a hassle for a race team, but can be annoying for a daily driver.
some Spoon 4-Pot Mono Block Caliper