Increasing Braking Performance With Caliper Upgrades
Date Posted:2 October 2017
As a car enthusiast, you’re on the lookout for everything that can possibly increase your car’s performance both on the street and on the track. Sometimes these upgrades take the form of acceleration upgrades: headers, chips, air intakes, exhaust systems, or others. But every time you go fast, you have to eventually stop. It’s much better if that stopping is totally under your control!
The first thing that’s important to upgrade your braking performace is making sure your tires are up to par: after all, that patch of rubber is the contact point between your vehicle and the asphalt, and it’s going to make the biggest difference in stopping power. But if you’ve got your tires covered, and you’re still sensing that you need to improve your car’s default braking performance, it might be time to check out the other parts of the stopping system.
How Do You Know If You Need An Upgrade?
Why might you need a boost to your braking performance? While your car’s factory brakes are enough for average daily driving, they’re not built to stand up to extended sessions of repeated braking where your rotors haven’t had time to cool off, and they’re only meant to stop you at normal speeds. If you’ve ever taken your car to the track, or headed into repeated hairpin turns, you might start to feel your brakes fade. You might start to feel as if your brake pedal is soft: that it’s not locking down just as much as you would like it to. This is a sign that you’re reaching the limits of your current braking system: and it might be time to upgrade!
Brakes work by converting kinetic energy into heat: generated by that friction between the calipers, pads, and rotors. When you’ve gone through a few hard or consecutive stops, the temperature range of your factory brake parts can be exceeded. The first part to heat up are the pads. But if you’ve replaced and freshly upgraded your pads, your brake fade can come from all that heat heading into your rotors, calipers, and even brake fluid.
Heat is such an important part of braking performance, and that’s why upgraded brake parts are designed to direct that heat away from the pads and enable a higher heat threshold of operation. An upgraded system will give you more stability at high temperatures, along with better stopping power, braking balance, and ultimately more control of your car.
One of the first upgrades to a car is the tires. If you’ve done this, but still feel that brake fade in demanding driving conditions, you’ve probably also upgraded your pads and replaced your rotors. But the next step: if you’re still taking your car to the limits and need that extra braking power? Caliper upgrades are the way to go.
Brake Caliper Upgrades
Caliper upgrades vary in both size and capability. For a stronger stopping performance, calipers increase the number of pistons to create a stronger force upon the rotor. They’re also much better than the stock brakes in dissipating heat from the pads and rotors, making the conversion between kinetic energy and heat much more effectively. This is called thermal capacity: something that you’ll realize is extremely important once you take your car to the track and realize you’re seeing less and less fade as the day goes on. Heat is handled much more efficiently. Not to mention, caliper upgrades are structurally much stiffer and will hold up to the stress involved in hitting the pavement during a hard day’s driving. You’ll see a marked improvement in braking ability when fitting your car with a brake upgrade, not to mention the advantage of adding a glimpse of a bright red Brembo piston behind your wheels.
As you increase your caliper size (and, of course, the piston surface area within the caliper) you’ll start to have a firmer brake pedal and be able to maintain much more control over your stopping power as you go about the track or road.
At Planet Parts, we’ve got a range of upgrades, especially for Holden Gemini and Commodores. Our upgrade kits include both front and back brake upgrades, along with adaptors and caliper supports for different vehicles. Feel free to check out our offering of brake upgrades, and drop us a line if you’re in need of any other advice or help in optimizing the performance of your car.