Ask any enthusiast what they think about the most, and the answer will probably be “How to go faster”.
We all want more power, greater torque and quicker acceleration.
More experienced drivers, on the other hand, aren’t just concerned with going faster. They’re equally focussed on how a car handles, its responsiveness and most importantly, how well it stops.
In fact, a car’s braking performance is arguably even more important than how much power its engine can produce.
Superb, fade-free brakes are the ticket to quicker lap times and race victories. They allow drivers to brake later, while still scrubbing off speed quickly and efficiently.
Stopping power is appreciated on roads, too. After all, shorter braking distances can mean the difference between a fender-bender and a serious collision.
Here are three sure-fire ways of improving braking performance.
UPGRADE TO A BIG BRAKE KIT (BBK)
Big brake kits are the best and quickest way to enhance your vehicle’s braking performance.
Heat takes longer to build up on larger disc surfaces. At the same time, the larger surfaces also help them cool down faster. BBKs also typically feature ventilated and cross-drilled discs – two design elements that help with cooling.
Once you’ve fitted a BBK, brake fade will become less of an issue.
SWOP TO BRAIDED LINES AND BETTER FLUID
When you depress the brake pedal, brake fluid is pumped by the cylinder through the brake lines/hoses. The callipers then “bite” the discs to slow the car down.
However, regular brake lines are made of rubber, which expands when it gets hot. When this happens, the brakes become less effective, since the fluid pressure is lost.
Braided brake lines prevent this expansion, thus maintaining your braking performance. In fact, you’ll find that the brake pedal will feel reassuringly stiff, since the pressure is more constant.
To complement the braided lines, you need better brake fluid as well, especially if you track your car. Your braking performance will improve when you use brake fluid with a higher boiling point.
When brake fluid boils (due to the moisture it eventually absorbs), gas builds up in the braking system. When there is too much gas, the brakes will no longer work, since the pressure in the lines is compressing the bubbles, instead of the callipers!
UPGRADE YOUR TYRES
Your car’s braking performance isn’t going to be as good as it can be without a set of high-performance tyres.
Just fitting your vehicle with a BBK and braided brake lines isn’t enough. To properly transfer all that braking power to the road, you need the right tyres.
High-performance tyres with sticky compounds and stiff sidewalls are key. Without them, your braking performance potential will be unrealised.
Remember, tyres are the only link between your car and the road. Without them, any go-faster upgrades to your car won’t matter.