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Braking Better – Improve Your Jeep’s Brake Performance
Brakes are an often-overlooked component on Jeeps, but they shouldn’t be. Along with steering, brakes are the most critical component on any vehicle driven on the street. We often upgrade steering systems with hydraulic ram assist and heavy-duty tie rods, but the braking system is ignored. Larger rotors and calipers are often part of an upgrade to one-ton axles, where the goal is increased strength to live with large tires. Brakes are a system though, and larger calipers often require a different master cylinder that moves more fluid, along with the proper booster, residual valve, and pedal ratio.
That was more than we were looking for on our LJ Rubicon project, though. We just wanted to regain some of the braking power that was lost when we upgraded to 35-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts on AEV Pintler wheels. You may recall (“What concessions are made when adding big tires?”) that the new tire and wheel combo is 40 pounds heavier at each corner and that extra rotating weight increased our 60-0 braking distance from 137 feet to 218 feet. That extra distance is equal to at least a couple busses full of nuns.
Fortunately, EBC had a solution (as it does with a number of Jeep models) with its high performance replacement Heavy Duty Orange brake pads and Ultimax USR slotted rotors. The Heavy Duty Orange pads have increased friction when compared to stock pads, with a broad temperature range for safe stopping in a wide variety of conditions—or, in our case, stopping big, heavy mud-terrain tires. The Ultimax USR rotors are made from high-quality gray iron to exacting standards and slotted to provide improved outgassing and keep the pads from glazing. The discs come with a long-lasting corrosion-resistant Nitrotherm coating that uses warm nitrogen to produce the black finish. While the finish is swept away from the rotor surface, it does an excellent job keeping the rest of the rotor corrosion free, particularly where the wheels bolt on to the brakes.
The EBC parts bolted on easily in under an hour with minimal tools. The hardest part was getting the 106-pound tire and wheel off and back on at each corner. We performed the installation on a lift since the brakes were installed at the same time as other components, but this is an installation that could easily be handled in the driveway during an afternoon. We didn’t get back everything we had lost with the larger, heavier tires, but for the cost of a little coin and a few hours, we were able to decrease our average braking distance by more than 20 feet. There should be more braking efficiency gained in the future once the pads are fully bedded, and we’ll report back on that in our next installment in which we add an intake, programmer, and exhaust to regain lost acceleration.