Perhaps even more important than making your car accelerate faster, is making your car stop before you crash.
Modifying a car always starts with increasing horsepower and torque. And then to handle the added muscle, we proceed to upgrading the suspension with more capable shocks and beefier springs. A wheel and tire package comes next for more contact patch. By now, we may have made Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car.
But then to make a turn so we won’t fall off a cliff, we need to upgrade the car’s brakes. And brakes aren’t just essential for our fast road cars, it is also a very important part of racing. Drag cars need strong brakes to not end up in a tree. Formula 1 even uses carbon fiber brakes to make sure the cars stop properly before taking the fast, sweeping chicanes at Imola.
The ideology that comes with “bigger is better” isn’t always accurate.
Unless you have a wonderfully set-up chassis and suspension, bigger wheels in rubber-band tires will always result in a harsh ride. A large capacity engine might give you all the power that you need but it is very heavy and very thirsty.
On the contrary, this idea might be accurate on a car’s braking system. Big cross-drilled brake rotors are more effective in stopping your modified car especially when paired with multi-piston calipers and big brake pads.
However, to have a more effective braking power, you need a more capable master cylinder and stronger steel-braided brake lines.
Mind you, because of small-ish wheels, Formula 1 cars only have 12- or 13-inch rotors. Tiny, yes, but made of carbon fiber which makes it cost more than a fully-optioned Ford Mustang Bullitt – and that’s only one disc. So Formula 1 brakes are big … in cost.
Unless your daily driver is a Porsche 911 GT3, most OEM brake rotors are designed for road use only. It can take most daily use in the concrete jungle, in stop-and-go traffic. But once you decide to carve canyons, your stock brakes might not be up to the task – especially if you have a potent engine under the hood.
Many big brakes kit will use multi-piece rotors which are lighter than the stock rotors, resulting in less un-sprung weight which will improve initial turn-in and steering response.
On most vehicles, you can make plenty of improvements to your stock braking system. This is why high-performance rotors are typically installed on high-performance vehicles, and why some of them are even created from better quality materials and designed with the latest technologies.
Plenty of stopping power compared to stock, solid discs but won’t make a run for your money in a way carbon-ceramic rotors will.
These rotors can feature either a sequence of holes (drilled) or slots (slotted) which have many functions. These design patterns offer an exit way for hot air and gasses produced at the surface between the brake pads and brake rotors. They also constantly cool down the pad surface, guaranteeing optimum, reliable gripping force between the pads and rotors.
Because, as we all know, heat is detrimental to braking distances and braking in general. Heat also introduces brake fade that performance car drivers dread so much.
These upgrades also allow a clearing effect which helps prevent water and other materials from getting stuck between the pads and rotors. Thus, you will have pads and rotors that will last a bit longer than OEM ones.
Carbon-ceramic brake rotors have become the standard in almost all high-performance braking systems for a long time. The material used for building these types of rotors was initially used in the world of aerospace and motorsports.
Ferrari uses this type of rotor in virtually every modern car they produce because 1.) It is race proven and 2.) You would be hard-pressed to find a “slow” Ferrari.
And because carbon-ceramic brake rotors are built from a compound mix of lightweight and attractive materials, they possess numerous advantages. They are lighter, stronger, last longer, resist brake fade better, and massively improve braking performance. They also look good at a standstill peeking through those beautiful wheels you have.
While they are possibly the ultimate high-performance brake rotors, they are also extremely pricey. For this reason, they are generally used purely in high-performance vehicles such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Aston-Martin, and more.